The conditions may not yet be ideal, but anyone who wants can now travel the Rota Vicentina again with the “minimum of safety”. The “big shock”, during the August fire, is outdated and the future is already being paved, as evidenced by the interest that the Route continues to generate, day after day.
Marta Cabral is the president of the board of the Associação Rota Vicentina, which manages this large pedestrian route, with around 400 kilometers and two main routes that pass through Odeceixe, in the municipality of Aljezur.
In the town's landscape, the August fire is still very present, which started on the other side of the Seixe river, in the Alentejo parish of S. Teotónio (Odemira), but ended up also reaching Odeceixe, in the Algarve.
All around, there are burnt trees, still scorched vegetation and a desolate picture. So says Marta Cabral who, since the end of the fire, has taken action to restore conditions on the Rota Vicentina.
«We have had some drizzle this month that gives us a certain tone of hope, because there are some herbs starting to emerge...», he tells the Sul Informação, next to border which divides the Algarve from the Alentejo.
The greatest damage caused by the fire, along the Rota Vicentina route, is on the coast of Marta Cabral. It is a pedestrian bridge that marks the division between the two regions, which was badly burned, making it impossible for walkers to use it.
«Structurally, it was the biggest damage we had, because it is a bridge already of some size and represents an important investment», he explains.
Around a month and a half after the fire, intense work has already been carried out to «try to understand its effective impact on the territory».
«Especially on the trails, that’s done. We are also quantifying the need for intervention, we are talking to our partners, namely the public, to find out how we can finance the work to restore ideal conditions», says Marta Cabral.
«At this very moment, we are already on the ground rescheduling, in a somewhat provisional way, but with a minimum of security, the trails, to ensure that anyone who arrives at this time of year to walk does not get lost», he adds.
And the truth is that the Route continues to attract tourists, as proven by the Sul Informação, at the entrance to the village of Odeceixe, when he came across two groups of hikers.
«In this type of market, and we have this feedback, people are very open to what the territory has to offer. Therefore, they tend not to come with a fantasy of something other than what is happening. I would say that walking, for half a day, in an area that burned, could be a very enriching experience», says Marta Cabral.
In this work to restore all conditions – which should be completed in October – Rota Vicentina will also have the support of the Algarve Tourism Region.
This body, moreover, chose Rota Vicentina to hold a meeting of its Executive Committee, last Thursday, September 21st.
André Gomes, president of the RTA, guarantees that the concern to help this «important tourist product» arose «right during the fire».
«After determining the damage, including costs (around 38 thousand euros), we handed this survey over to the Secretary of State for Tourism. Now, together, we are preparing the response mechanism in financial terms, which could involve a specific instrument from Turismo de Portugal itself or even through what is the reduced budget of the Tourism Region», he explains to Sul Informação.
The key word is “speed”.
«Despite the impact that the fire created and despite the fact that all the infrastructure related to this route has not yet been replaced, we see tourists arriving, leaving public transport... The importance of the Rota Vicentina is well demonstrated», he adds.
This relevance, this interest, has a face: Marta Cabral who, despite her efforts, does not forget those August days.
«There was a moment when, in my mind, this stage of the Route was to be crossed out. And now we realize it’s not. The truth is that we continue to look at the landscape and the territory with the same love as before. Are you singed? It is, but it calls for us. And we believe that it will continue to appeal to people too», he concludes.
Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação