After five days of “Walking Water” downstream the Sado watershed, we – 30 people from Tamera and some friends, guided by Sabine Lichtenfels and Bernd Müller – have arrived in Santa Margarida do Sado, a small village at the river. We are digesting many impressions – walking 15-20 kilometers per day, sleeping in remote villages in the cultural centers or with friends on their farms, receiving a simple meal in the evening, getting up before sunrise and walking the first two hours in silence.
Again and again we make the experience how the inner and outer experiences are align.
We walk along highways and cross the river swimming or barefoot, we walk many kilometers through olive monocultures with the air smelling heavily from pesticides, hours without seeing a person, just animals. In the evenings we listen to villagers, sons of miners, managers of water supply systems, bartenders, farmers, housewives, and mayors.
Water is a huge topic in a country that is so dry during summer – and here we are in the middle of October still without rain, and still hot during the days. We see the result of the water management around large dams – water supply during summer creates the possibility of industrial agriculture and makes Portugal for example to the 4th biggest tomato supplier of the world. We also walk through extended rice fields. At the same time the water supply by the big dams creates dependencies: When the regional water price rises and the global tomato price sinks, the farmers have to give up – and only large companies can survive this challenge. We see it over and over again: water is a human right; and treating water naturally provides us with everything we need.
We walk through a region with the wounds of many decades of nature destruction – and still we see incredible beauty maintained in remote places: a well kept sacred spring, a lush garden of people sustaining themselves in the middle of agricultural industries, a wild piece of the river, here and there a giant cork oak or ancient olive tree, a café as a beautiful social meeting place of the village, or the shining eyes of an old lady. In Lousal we bear witness to a painful situation of the earth body after the mining industry left behind a wounded landscape. What would happen if all humans disappear and nature takes over again? Can we see this happen with people included? Can we see healing biotopes appear in many of these places – so that young people find a perspective again, that animals again are respected, that rivers can flow freely?
We try to bear witness – and slowly visions emerge of what our tasks could be.
We have still five days ahead – and we try to keep you updated.