Portugal in the Box #6

Wednesday 4th June 2008

Odemira – Villa Nova de Milantes – Sinnes – Lagoa de Santo Andre

Snakes didn´t haunt my dreams tonight, but Neanderthals did!

My first move today after getting up was to check the situation in the car park. The cave man had not come back, but as expected, many cars had arrived, in fact the parking was full. But people had had the incredible decency to leave free room around us, although we had had the incredible indecency to occupy 4 normal parking places, transversal to the normal parking direction. These Portuguese are really fine guys!

I first made a sketch of some old men sitting and standing by the river… they were quite surprised to see me coming out of the Boomobile and starting drawing, observed me for a little while, but soon went back to their water and ducks contemplation. Portuguese seem to be really good at respecting people’s privacy, I noticed that everytime when I was sketching outside, nobody came to disturb me, except the children from Castro Marim, but well, children are another species, aren´t they?. Many many years ago, as I was in Portugal for the first time, I found it rather negative, interpreting this behaviour as a lack of interest, closed-mindedness and even rejection of foreigners. Today I would call it respect., and I appreciate it very much.

We had a lovely walk along the river and then went into the town, to try to find postacards for the family and bread. It has become a tradition, last year as we went to Scotland, to send my parents a postcard every 2 or 3 days, just writing our itinerary and the stops we make. My father, like me, loves maps and has a big pleasure in following us on the map through the postcards. After some effort explaining what we were looking for, we finally found a little shop selling 4 different postcards. The woman had the kindness to free the stand of a lot of stuff behind which the cards were hidden. I guess nobody had bought some for years!. At the end we payed 60 cents for 2 postcards, loads of work, 1000 smiles and 1000 thanks. This is how the Spaniards were 50 years ago, before the tourists and their money spoiled their souls. I had thought this not to exist anymore, but it does: and it is worth more than a million sunbeams!

The same thing happened as we finally got bread. It had not been easy to find some, I had to ask many different people, and when we finally found the baker, the baker told us with a wide smile that there was no bread left… The woman really sat there, at about 11h30 in the morning, in a totally empty shop! But we got our bread from another little shop, and again, for 70 cents, the guy had a lot of work to do and to smile, explaining with much patience the difference between pao normal and pao integral…

I must say though that language communication is very difficult here. I speak perfect Spanish and one should expect, with both languages being quite similar, at least written, to be able to communicate in Spanish. But it is not easy at all, In fact they don´t understand one word of Spanish! The reason being, I guess, that it is spoken very differently, much softer, closer to Russian sometimes.

But perhaps they just don´t want to understand Spanish? I don´t know the history of both countries, but judging by the big forts we saw close to the border, it can´t have always been very freindly…

We sat then in a lovely square to write our postcards, and Kevin went to post them while I was sketching.. As he came back he put a gift bag close to me on the bench, without saying a word. I opened it and found a wonderful pink Converse bag, never saw such a cute bag before! God was I happy, and so touched!

I have no shame to say it: I love that guy, you have no idea how much!!!!

Before we left the town, we saw an enormous dead tree in the centre of a beautiful roundabout, surrounded by hundreds of wonderful flowers, I thought what a pity that their tree died, just there! Coming closer, we noticed that this was not a real tree, but an iron sculpture, made ou tof thousands and thousands of iron pieces. I never saw such an impressive iron sculpture, I must say!

Later on we drove to the coast and Villa Nova de Milantes. I was a little bit deceived as I was expecting to see a typical fishing village with cute boats, but it was much more a tourist beach. Fanatastic views out to sea, and the dunes.. We had a long walk through the dunes and Kevin enjoyed the warm sand under his feet. At the end we even got trapped by the tide and could not go further, the result being that instead of retracing our steps, which we generally both hate, we started climbing the rock up out of the water. For some seconds I had a very unpleasant vertigo and thought I would fall into the sea…

The aim for today was Sines, the birthplace of Vasco de Gama. We arrived at Vasco de Gama beach, but were then forced to take a diversion which led us up into the town and finally to a highway going back south! Kevin, fed up, made a 180° turn on the highway, and we decided to leave that town as soon as possible. I must admit that I was quite frustrated as I had my heart, again, set on boats.and I hadn´t seen one, except a gigantic trans-atlantic freighter. Not my idea of boat romanticism…

As I write this we are sitting in the Boomobile by some lagoon, a beautiful peaceful landscape but the wind is blowing like hell. We have not the energy to drive somewhere else, so I guess we will spend the night here, but I fear that I won´t have much sleep.

4 Responses to “Portugal in the Box #6”

  1. wrjones Says:

    You make even the hassles seem fun.

  2. helenl Says:

    Miki, These pictures from Portugal are so full of substance and imagination. I cannot write about them quickly enough. These poems, however, take a bit more revision, since this is reality rather than fantasy, and I want to stay a bit closer to what you have actually drawn. I am enjoying your diary so much, having not been away from home in quite a while now – I need input and solitude and quiet thought. Thanks for giving me all of that vicariously. Love, Helen

  3. Susan Cornelis Says:

    I’m really feeling the flow of your adventures – struggling to figure out all those things about a “foreign” culture and strange place without the advantage of a local guide.

  4. Portugal in The Box, The Sketches - #6 « Infinity + some + 2 Says:

    […] Portugal paintings, Portugal painting, watercolour travel sketches Read here the corresponding travel […]


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