Day 6 – Stewed in their own Juice
Saturday, 24th June
Until now, I assumed that masses of clouds were constantly gathering over the Atlantic, which would then move inland to rain someone down. Preferably tourists in sandals and socks. I thought this would keep the temperatures moderate. To prove me wrong, I had to stand in a traffic jam in a car without air conditioning, which cost me a lot of sweat. Strictly speaking, it wasn't a traffic jam in the true sense of the word, just rush hour traffic. But it was true about the sweat.
On the motorway from Pontevedra to Lisbon, I realised that the guy who had started settling in Porto 4000 years ago was not insane. He was certainly exhausted, but still in his right mind. Porto is by far the flattest place on the coast.
Mountain after mountain piles up along the motorway. Similar to what children do when they play with sand moulds. A smaller one is placed on top of each sand cake until no more smaller moulds can be found. Or the stone stackers that have been popping up everywhere recently.
And last but not least, like the apple men of the French-American mathematician Mandelbrot. Why I thought of a mathematician was certainly due to the temperatures. Roughly speaking, Mandelbrot developed a calculation rule according to which points are joined together. This creates graceful shapes that continue in ever more delicate branches and twigs. If you zoom into a branch at any point, you realise that it looks like the original figure.
As a mathematician, Mandelbrot had no problem continuing this game for all eternity. All the children and stone stackers gave up far too soon, because Mandelbrot crossed the gateway to half the dimension through sheer perseverance.
It's very similar here. The mountains continue on a smaller and smaller scale for all eternity. That gives the area something mystical. If you concentrate carefully, you can feel half the dimension. It could also be the heat. Maybe I'll come here again when I'm not cooking in my own juices.
Then I will also investigate the numerous rivers that are constantly announced. A bridge has been built and named over every watercourse that carries more than one or two drops a week. At best, the width of such a river fills a small fraction of the stretch spanned. But maybe you can only see the flow once you've travelled through half the dimension. Perhaps they simply had a few bridges left over. Maybe the picture changes when it rains. The Atlantic is close, it can't take that long.