Earlier this week I grabbed my favorite accessory, and made my way up to the very top of the Serra da Estrela, the highest point in Portugal. It’s the largest mountain region in the country, being home to many cities and even more tiny villages, including the one I grew up making memories. It had been years, over a decade and a half, since I had actually visited the highly touristic “Torre”. It couldn’t have been a better day, the slight chill in the air grew stronger, as winds whistled around the bright sun that cleared the sky making it possible for me to see endless rocky mountains far beyond the eye can see. I had an overwhelming feeling of peace, tranquility and happiness just gazing out the window, but the feeling I got standing above the clouds over the millions of everyday occurrences going on below me, was of absolute freedom.
This beautiful, traditional Serra dog, wouldn’t leave my side as I stopped to take photographs of the Lagoa. I couldn’t help myself from playing with the adorable puppies, wishing I could just take one with me. Handmade leather hats, coats, and slippers are the most traditional artisan pieces you will see in this region, along with goat, cow, and sheep’s milk cheeses, chorizo, and Chestnut and Ginga liqueurs. I brought back a pair of synthetic, yet very warm, slippers, some cheese and sweet Portuguese bread.
As I drove past this site, I knew I just needed to get out of my car. All I could do was just stand and stare at the organic and natural beauty that was all around me. It wasn’t until nearly two years ago, that I truly appreciated the beauty that it was the grow up in the mountains, look outside your window see nothing but nature and gaze into a pitch black sky filled with endless bright stars. I wasn’t, and still am not, a city girl per se either, something is lacking back home in New Jersey, and I know now it’s because I thrive and am the happiest when I’m surrounded by this environment.
Overlooking the lake at the Vale do Rossim, the deep green trees and bright purple flowers growing in the grasses, and the mountains that became the perfect backdrop, I couldn’t help but think that this is where I want to live. Not in Portugal, but this setting, to be able to walk outside my home and no matter the weather have my breath be taken away. As my time here comes to an end, I’m leaving with an even greater love for my heritage and this beautiful country, but also a sense of determination and excitement for the new chapter in my life that awaits me in Arizona.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough.”