Part of me wants to shout how glorious the weather has been since the first weekend when we arrived, as it has been wonderfully sunny.
However increasingly I find I am shaking my head at the forecasts. November should be the second wettest month of the year, with average daytime temperatures between 15°C and 19°C. Instead we have been in the low 20s, and the skies remain steadfastly blue. Consequently the Algarve remains under severe drought conditions, and the reservoir levels are below average, some dangerously low. The land felt very parched on our adventures last week.
The irregular nature of rainfall is one of the characteristics of the climate in the south of the country, and so many might say don’t fret. After all last winter there was a significant increase in rainfall, and for a while the reservoirs were looking full. However it is evident when you track the weather over the past couple of decades, rainfall has become more irregular and drought conditions are becoming the norm. The authorities are exploring options for alternative water supplies, namely piping water from rivers on the Spainish border but climate change is also going to require to re-think about how water and land is used. Something that doesn’t seem to be happening here quite yet. We have been shocked by the increase in the number and size of orange groves and avocado plantations in the two years we’ve been away, the fruits are delicious but they are an environmental nightmare in a region that regularly experiences droughts and fires.
Whilst I am increasingly worried about our planet’s medium to long term future, and regularly ponder what further changes I am going to make to our lives. I admit right now I have been enjoying our moment in the Algarvian sunshine. There is beauty to be found even in the greys and browns which are dominating the countryside.
It’s not just the climate that has been in our thoughts on our walks. We’ve also got a long way to go before we regain our pre-pandemic fitness levels but we are making good progress. Our 6km hike on Thursday felt relatively easy despite the heat and the hills. There again we were stopping repeatedly as the birding was quite good, and we had views and a picnic to enjoy too!