Portugal in the Box – #28

Thursday 26th June 2008

Chaves

A good night here, although at some different times the air was filled with loud sounds which we could not identify.At one point I really thought that we were at war and the town here bombarded!
In the morning we visited the town. It looked very old, in fact much older than Ponte de Lima, claimed as the oldest town in Portugal. I could have stopped at each street corner and made some sketches, but again my senses were overflowing with the big quantity of motifs and impressions and I was not very good at drawing. To my excuse  I must add that the architecture is very complicated, chaotic too (which is what attracts me most in fact…), not easy to sketch. And then the continental sun which is brutally shining all over the place, no sea breeze anymore in the air,  and makes me feel as if a lead weight was prsessing down upon my head… But well, one should not be too demanding with oneself, I do what I can, and this is important.

After lunch we went to a mega cybercafe we had spotted just on the corner. I could not believe that such a place exists in such a medieval  town. Wonderfully cool inside, great atmosphere, big but comfortable, and the computer room was wonderfully made and quiet. I thought I could finally write the mails I had to write but unfortunately, the keyboards were so well-used, or made so badly, that I could not decipher one of the letters! And I am not such a typing professional who knows the place of each letter, and surely not on a Portuguese keyboard! What an internet frustration again!

Late afternoon, we went with the bikes, explored the other part of the town which is on the other side of the river, or perhaps it is even another town? We saw there for the first time a proper motorhome sign with a parking restriction, and again I could not understand why in the hell that should be! It was a lonely place, not attractive, with a lot of room and nobody there…Sometimes it is very difficult to understand the Portuguese logic… but I know for certain that these restrictions are the wrong strategy and in fact one does not see many motorhomes around here, which is a big pity.
By the way, in the last few days we saw some motorhomes from Luxembourg, the first time since we arrived in Portugal. We find it very strange, why Luxembourg, why here? We had at lunch a clue to this mystery, perhaps… we were sitting at the table, enjnoying out bread and cheese, fresh bread we had just bought by the  master baker from Chaves, all windows open. A motorhome arrived, parked close to us, a man came out and after some steps around came to my window, and said
„Bonjour!”
with a nice  smile and an accent which I could not identify. Well, it came out that he lived in Luxembourg, but was originally from here. By the way, he told us that this is a Spa town, and that we should go and take the water, in the wonderful round building on the corner.
„The water is warm, and free, and good for the stomach!”

I wonder if many Portuguese from this area expatriated to Luxembourg a long time ago… we had many in France as I was a child, this is for sure. In Fatima we had met another Portuguese man who had spoken to us, wanting some info about the practice of motorhomes in Portugal, and it came out that he had been living in Canada for 20 years. And yesterday, as we were admiring the water clock, a Portuguese guy approached Kevin, who was wearing a vest from Aruba, asking him if he was from there.He had lived himself there for a long time, and had been „the most famous waiter in the Caribbean”. For your info: Kevin is not from Aruba, but has spent 4 seasons touring the Caribbeanon a cruiser called „Ocean village”, as a singer. If I remember well, this is where he was called
„The Nice Guy of Rock”.
By the way, these 3 men are the only Portuguese who have spoken to us. All three had lived a long time abroad and this confirms my theory that Portuguese, basically, are quite closed, or shy, or perhaps just totally respect the private sphere of anybody they don´t know. And when they go and live abroad, they of course adapt that way of being. But nice to be able to have a glance into Portugueses hearts: these 3 men really sounded very kind, soft and gentle!

Oh, I must tell you: we lost an old friend yesterday… Poirot! We have seen all the DVDs from him which we had… sad, somehow… just as when we lost our friends from the West Wing. We have started a new BBC series now, called „Silent Witness”, about a woman pathologist…It seems to me that all recent sereis have a woman as the hero, Inspectors, Chiefs of staff, Pathologists, Army …,   … I am not sure I like that! Anyway, I am not so fond either of these pathologist series, when they start showing all the disgusting things. I certainly don´t feel any attraction to the morbid!!!

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