Surf Coast, No Food

Kelsey Breseman
2 min readJan 21, 2024

We're lucky that Howard has brought protein bars from home, because nothing is open in Salema. It's just after sunrise, and since it's the off season, no grocery stores were open last night.

We underestimated the off season. It's the middle of winter, sure, but the sun is shining on golden sand. Surfers sit astride their boards, facing out to the waves. Behind them, the one beach cafe on today's route stands still and shuttered, umbrellas closed.

Caves bubble out of the cliffs. At one beach, a stone labyrinth is half-submerged in an estuary. Someone has stashed a hand drum in a cave. At Praia do Barranca, there's a slack line set up across the beach, winch rusted, but the wind is strong enough that I have no hope of balancing — though I take my shoes off to try.

It's been a long time since I've seen so many Volkswagen vans. Surf bums sit quiet on camp stools, devouring whatever they've brought, refueling after the morning swell.

Around twenty thousand steps into the day, the backs of my heels warm. I have to pick the pilling from my wool socks so they won't rub blisters against my shoes.

What we brought, for the four of us: half a pack of unsalted crackers, a handful of almonds, seven or eight prunes we bought back in Lagos, a couple of protein bars. We're okay, but it's not the greatest. There are no public bathrooms, which would be locked anyway, but we don't need them because there is also nowhere to refill a water bottle. We're rationing sips across the day.

By noon, my stomach is audibly growling. By one, I'm a little lightheaded. But at five hours, we're almost done with the day's trek.

It's not a hardship. The day is warm and beautiful as we approach Sagres. Tomorrow, we round the southwest tip of Europe. Today, we stop here, at an (open) restaurant's terrace overlooking the beach. It's very quiet. It's our first solid meal of the day at two in the afternoon. How could it be anything less than delicious?

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