In the Algarve, it’s all about the heat. We arrived in Lagos one week ago yesterday to slightly cooler temperatures, somewhere in the high 30s. It had hit the mid to high 40s a week or so earlier and people were still talking, someone even mentioned 50 degrees but I can’t imagine it. Some of the students had prepared themselves for the intensification by spending a few afternoons at Estoril just outside of Lisbon. I almost envied them their preparations although I couldn’t have endured the lizarding process. I’m not one for beach culture—I prefer a private kind of torpor and, as a working teacher, I’m primed for schedules and industry.
The beach lovers among us are in the majority, as it should be on a trip that brings us to a tourist hotspot such as this. Our hotel is situated on the edge of the charming neighbourhood of old Lagos. A shuttle bus provides transport every twenty minutes or so from the hotel to the beach that stretches in a great curve from Lagos to the next town of Portimao. The distance between the two towns is packed with resort hotels and, of course, tourists. Our hotel owns a piece of the beach, several long rows of shaded beach chairs, a thatched roof beach house, and, most important, it provides lifeguards.
The beach lovers tell me that on the days the guards put out the red flags the tide runs high and the waves crash over the berm to form a kind of lagoon that almost reaches the deck chairs. The undertow is strong at the best of times–on red flag days, swimmers don’t swim. Yellow flags mean they can go in up to their knees. I made my first beach foray yesterday, hoping Saturday morning would be a quieter, cooler time to plunge into the Atlantic. It was a no-flag day, the beach stretched a long way down to the water, I could have waded out a great distance in the shallows. The shaded beach chairs were free, the Atlantic was buoyant, the breeze was cool, the view of Lagos was beautiful. I floated in the water, stretched out on the lounge chair and let my dialed-up teacher brain unwind on the breeze and drift with the voices of surrounding families—Dutch, Swedish, Spanish, German—I was in many places at once.