What I love about visiting countries where much of the life is lived outdoors is that all you have to do to get some entertainment is find somewhere to sit down and wait.
So when I go to Lagos, that’s what I do. Much cheaper than going to the cinema or theatre (if you ignore the cost of flights and transfers, obviously) you get to sit in the sunshine rather than the dark watching interesting people stories that only you know the plot to (because you are making it up in your head as you go along).
A recent three night visit before the winter set in found my favourite jewel of a town quiet with a hint of bustle, laid back, and most importantly of all, hot..!
The first day was spent sitting on the balcony, ambling around town, swimming in the pool (well, I did, anyway) and sitting on a bench by the marina watching the boats. This, in my view, is excellent entertainment. If you can have programmes where you watch people fish on Shed, you can also have programmes where you watch boats bob up and down whilst not actually going anywhere.
Then it was time to wonder down to Linda’s beach bar for dinner whilst watching the sun set over the Atlantic. Nice. On our amble there we encountered a dog, a curious labradory type thing, sniffing around the sand dunes but we thought little of it. Dogs often take themselves out for walks in Portugal. It’s just what they do.
Anyways, the three of us ate a mellow meal and drank our Portuguese wine as the lights dimmed and we sighed our relaxed sighs, gazing out at the flickering lights of fishing boats in the night time sea.
Successfully walking out of the pitch- black sandy car park without falling over (a constant challenge which I have so far never failed) we discovered a party at the boat yard. Pausing for a while, watching the revellers, we wondered if we could manage to sneak in. We couldn’t. We just stood there pathetically watching other people having a lot of fun.
Then back to the noise of the noisy bit of the marina, walking to the quiet of the quieter part of the marina, to the cocoon of the apartment and sitting on the balcony, almost lulled to sleep by the singing of the cicadas.
Then it was Meia Praia Day, and as we settled ourselves on our sunbeds, we were joined by the strange labradory type dog we had seen the previous evening, who cwched (that’s Welsh for cuddled) up into my sunbed and went to sleep.
After lunch we returned to our sunbeds to find the dog still there, splayed in the sun, fast asleep. Possibly snoring. Obviously quite happy.
The clouds were gathering and the beach began to clear, but we are British and we sat on our sunbeds under our parasols even though there was soon no sun to protect us from.
When the whisp of a rain shower passed by that was it for almost everybody. But not us. We were only there for three days and a scatter of rain was not going to drive us from the beach. (as my dad used to say to us when he dragged my brother and I down Aberavon Beach in the rain for a swim…..”stop moaning, you are going to get wet anyway..”).
Left on our patch of beach after the rain were the three of us (me, Jennet, Claire), strange labradory type dog who by now was sitting up in front of the sunbeds looking charismatically out to sea, two young women doing handstands and such, and a man standing stock still, staring at the sky. He had been doing this for some time.
For a bit of movement a man on a quad bike drove past with a bit of dismantled life guard station on the back, looking left at the young women rather than straight ahead to where we was going.
I laughed. Strange labradory type dog looked round in a fairly disgusted fashion (I think) at me and walked a few yards further towards the sea and sat again. Obviously my laugh is too high pitched even for a dog to feel comfortable with.
She kept turning round to look though….
The man on the quad bike drove past again, this time standing as he drove in order to attract the young womens’ attention. They were totally oblivious and continued with the handstands.
The man staring at the sky started to talk to himself, moving around and waving his arms in a fairly dramatic fashion; occasionally he would pause to stare at the sky again. We decided he was an actor learning his lines in a pair of swimming trunks on a beach. Like you do.
The man on the quad bike drove past again, this time with two friends and some more dismantled lifeboat station, all of them looking left towards the oblivious young women and the sea rather than straight ahead.
The Actor started to act more dramatically.
The dog looked back at me again, stood up and walked a few more paces away from the noise and sat down…(my daughters used to manifest this behaviour when they were young…you laugh too loud, you wore a green coat in the playground..I’m not with you….that kind of thing.)
The quad bike drove back the other way..
Jennet and I decided to have a paddle in the sea and a bit of a walk, just to shake things up a bit. The dog walked with us along the beach until it got distracted and saw two people sitting minding their own business on the sand. Trotting over, it began to burrow into the sandy ridge only inches away from them…by the time we’d turned back the dog was cwched in a little dug out in the sand with her two new friends who were still staring at the sea pretending there wasn’t a strange dog in a hole on the beach right behind them.
So, there we are..Dog was Doug the Dog, because Doug dug…and all Doug needed was one of those special collars like Doug the Dog in Up, and we could have had a proper chat..
It was at this point that the four policemen on quad bikes appeared on the almost-empty beach and started talking to a man and his girlfriend who were taking pictures of the sand dunes with their mobile phone. They then talked to the men dismantling the lifeboat stations. Are they going to question us, we wondered…? Nah, they ignored us, the actor and the women doing hand stands and made a dramatic exit doing hand break turns on the sand…the bit where the sand is dry rather than wet and therefore the grip isn’t so good. ….so it inhibited the drama really, but still. They were in uniforms. Which was nice.
That evening, at least two miles away in the centre of Lagos we settled down for a nice meal at The Caravela.
Then we heard barking. Then we saw a rather drunken man being followed angrily by a strange labradory type dog…it was Doug the Dog. Doug the Dog was in town!
Having seen him off she headed towards the tables and sat next to ours. She began emoting hunger furiously, much in the manner of Puss in Boots in Shrek. It worked. Really. Look…
It was only at this point that we discovered that Doug was in fact a she…and probably pregnant, but it was too late to change her name. I know she has another name, given to her by whoever her owner is, but to us she is Doug…because she digs…etc. etc. ..Up etc.etc..
She then began to work the restaurant sitting there, looking cute, the focus of awwwwws…and the recipient of many a little titbit of meat.
We asked the waiters where she lived…”Along the street, down there…she likes chicken by the way. We look out for her..”
“We saw her at Meia Praia earlier…..”
“Yes, she is often at Meia Praia.”
(to get there, she has to cross the main road, walk along the Avenida, over the Marina Bridge, down past the harbour and over the sand dunes. Which would take 45 minutes with two legs. Either that or she catches the little boat over the river to the beach…which would not surprise me..)
Anyway, she went off to say hello to other waiters in other restaurants, got a bit of food, was greeted warmly by a few shopkeepers and came back.
If she had the magic Up collar on, what would she be saying…”having a good time, girls…next time eat chicken not fish, please.”
Eventually, after a few hours sitting lazily at our table we had to drag ourselves away. Doug had drifted away to greet other acquaintances elsewhere.
As we walked away down a very narrow cobbled street we heard a loud noise. Turning back to look we saw Doug wagging her tail and barking at us. We waved and shouted goodbye. Of course she understood….