We’d spent the entire week adventuring around Portugal; from Lisbon, we’d visited Tomar, Sintra, Alvito, Beja, Evora, Montemor-o-novo, with the roof down on the BMW, the radio blaring whatever CD we had gravitated to for that day’s trek, The Stones, The Stooges, Nick Cave, Moby (18), Kraftwerk, being the go-to’s. He’d already shown me ruins, walled cities, castles, and suddenly decided he just had to show me one of the monoliths.
It was some ways ahead still, and we were not sure we could make it before losing daylight. We excitedly watched the distance shorten with every passing sign. We were giddy and laughing the entire way, even as we pulled up to the small Countryside farm that sat next to the historic site. It was so quiet and isolated, which made us feel even lighter, like we had the World to ourselves.
We quickly got out of the car and tenuously ran down a cement water drain off that lead to where the stone sat. We tried not to twist our ankles, while rushing as the light was slowly turning to a pale orange as the sun set.
We made it to the clearing and both gasped as we took in the simple tall standing stone that sat in the center. It looked so strange just sitting there, amidst the farms in the area.
I walked up to it and touched it gently, it was cool and rough, as you’d expect a stone to be, but as I touched it, it warmed from the heat of my hand. We both took a moment to contemplate how old this rock was, what it had silently seen over the many millennia.
We wondered aloud, only slightly jokingly, about the Druids that must have used this for ritual or at the very least a sundial, perhaps.
But we didn’t have long, and we had no flashlights (cell phones were not commonly equipped with them yet at this point), so we decided it was time to get back to the car before risking injuring ourselves on the cement gully.
I gave the stone one last gentle brush and off we went; much less giggly this time as it had gotten dark and we were focused on our footing.
But we made it, just as the last light drained from the sky. It had gotten drastically colder once the sun disappeared, as it often does in Portugal. The dampness of night had entered the air. We rushed into the car, to turn on the heat and…
It wouldn’t start.
Tried again… still no. The engine would not turn. We looked at each other. We were in the middle of nowhere. It didn’t appear the farm was inhabited and there would be no other traffic down this country road at least until tomorrow, if not days. Oh shit!
The little “lot” before the drain off was slightly angled down towards the grass and trees, and the car was a manual… “Maybe we could manage to jump start it?” He suggested. I cringed. If it didn’t start, it would end up in the drain off, or the trees on either side. Neither were optimal, and also, how strong did he think I was?! This would entail pushing the car up towards the road, a good 10 feet or so.
But I gave in to his whims, and attempted it, for a good 20 minutes before I finally refused to continue.
“We can sleep in the car!” I snapped as I pulled the emergency blanket out of the trunk. He was not thrilled with this. But I found it all very amusing.
Suddenly, lights appeared through the trees, there was a vehicle coming down the road! We both eagerly waved it down, and breathed a mutual sigh of relief as the truck stopped and a man got out.
He exchanged a few words in Portuguese with my partner, and then in broken English, asked me to help him push the car to the road, so he could connect his battery and jump start the car that way.
It took us mere seconds together to accomplish this and soon we had the car started and profusely thanked the kind man for helping. He said that we were fortunate to have caught him on his way home from work, as besides him there likely would have been no other traffic that night.
As we drove off, we began noting that we never saw the man drive away, he had simply vanished after helping us, and we then observed that we passed no homes on that country road afterward… and we, naturally, came to the conclusion that the monolith still had Druids watching over it…
Rest in peace, my love.