Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 17 ~ Horse Ranch en route to Portugal

This morning we were up early and on the road to Portugal.  Unfortunately, we have lost our wonderful sunshine; but we are still dry. On our way to Brito Paes Stud Ranch, we rode through the countryside of Algarve, Portugal. Not far from the ranch, we passed some of the valuable black pigs that feast on the acorns.


Maria Brito Paes, the owner of the horse ranch, greeted us as we entered our large dinning room.


Our delicious meal consisted of soup, salad, rice, chicken and vanilla ice cream with a wonderful sauce. The symbol on the back wall is the family brand.  


The surroundings were beautiful, and this Lusitanian mare loved attention.


This building housed the arena and an upstairs area for us to sit, learn about the ranch, and watch a horse presentation. This stud ranch has been around for two centuries.  Initially, working horses were bred; but for the last 25 years, the ranch has been  dedicated to breeding sport and bullfighting horses.  Currently, there are 15 Lusitanian mares and 5 studs which are Lusitanian, English and German. 


I had a lot of difficulty getting a good photo of these beautiful horses, but the video below gives you an idea of their athleticism.

Lusitanian horse in training ring.

When we left the ranch, we stopped by an area with cork oak which is most commonly found in the Mediterranean region.  Portugal has the largest cork oak forests and produces more than twice as much as any  other country.  Cork bark is not stripped from the tree until it is 25 years old and can be harvested every nine years thereafter. The best cork for production of bottle stoppers is achieved after the third stripping. Notice that the tree below has different sections and numbers. The red section at the bottom with the number 3 was stripped in 2013.  Above the red section, the 6 indicated that portion of the tree was stripped in 2006, and the 0 in 2010.


The upper limbs of a tree are usually not stripped because it is too difficult and not profitable.


Pictured here is  a pile of cork that has been stripped from an oak tree. The black area of the tree in the background has been stripped. 


From here, we continued  to Lisbon.  We arrived at our hotel around 6:00 PM; and after briefly settling in our rooms, we went on a short walk with our program director to familiarize ourselves with the area.  Tomorrow, we will go on a tour of Lisbon. 

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