Never having met one before, I wasn’t at all sure if meeting a Catbird would be scarey. You can tell from the smile on Cathy’s face that it was anything but. In fact, from the second we met, we were nattering away like old pals, and by the time we’d dragged her humungous purple suitcase to the car, we were well into our life stories.
Cathy’s is convoluted, and mine not as straightforward as you might think, so it all took some time to unravel. We each had remembered snippets about the other, but needed to explore the detail. And what fun that was.
For any of you not familiar, a little background. Cathy Dutchak, an American lady, has been working in the Gulf State of Oman for the past eighteen months, and before that in Korea. Intriguing, yes? When I came across A native in the Land of Niswa I just had to know more. I followed Cathy through the ups and downs of life in the rich Arab world and marvelled at the beauties her photography revealed.
Then Cathy announced that her time over there was up and, before returning to the USA, she was spending a month touring Spain and Portugal. It coincided with a visit I was making to Tavira, so how could I not offer a little hospitality? (but a touch nervously, still not too sure what kind of creature a Catbird might be) How glad I am that I did.
Time went all too quickly. We discovered a love of boats in common and, as the temperatures were into the 30s, an expedition onto the water seemed a good idea. The birdwatching and historical tour of the Ria Formosa was perfect (but not before a visit to the Post Office to try to dispose of some of Cathy’s rapidly accumulating luggage- more of that later!)
Back on dry land there was much to see, and we leaped into the car and off to the hills and the village of Alte. It’s a favourite of mine and I’ve written about it and been there many times. Today was about finding a cool spot beside the fontes, or springs, and a cafe extraordinaire for refreshments.
Cathy very much likes ceramic tiles and the Moorish connection, so it was on through cork and eucalyptus country to Silves, with its mighty fortress. I was there in May this year, resulting in S is for Silves, but a few more photos had to be taken. I was pleased to find the Igreja da Misericordia open for an art exhibition, a reward in itself.
We were warm and tired when we made it home, but after a brief “feet up” we were out again, in search of food. At some point I’m sure you’ll read Cathy’s version of this, so all I’m going to say is that she provided enormous entertainment for Luis and Philippe, the owner and the waiter in “A Taska”. The food was delicious, as usual, but while I simply nodded and smiled my approval, Cathy went into full blogger mode.
Charm turned up full (with maybe a little extra confidence from the port), she proceeded to photograph the decor, the menu, the food, and of course, Luis and Phillipe. “She’s funny” said the latter, rolling his dark eyes and minding not a bit. Then it was onto the streets, and straight into the nearest shop. Did I mention that Cathy likes to shop? “Casa das Portas” is a very beautiful place to do it, but for once restraint was exercised.
The case was rather full, and I ended up bringing a good amount of her clothing back to the UK in my hand luggage. She had already shipped some home from Barcelona and I did not want to waste more of the holiday queuing at our post office. It is speeding its way to the USA right now. Goodness knows what purchases she might have made in Lisbon, but the Spanish skirts I saw were extremely nice.
We wandered the warm Tavira night, in search of a promised fig and almond icecream, which sadly we never found. I was sorry to disappoint. But one thing for sure, Cathy did not disappoint me. I learnt a lot, and I laughed a lot, and I think we will be lifelong friends.