No, its not misspelled, the title is “simplesmente” Portuguese. It is “simplesmente” (simply) a blessing to visit Portuguese lands. My country is bathed in this culture, we have the best places and the best coffee, fruit shops and Venezuelan has marked a Portuguese accent.
The spacious houses with huge corridors and large San Jose tiles in the Múcura and White House plots where so many times as a child I ran beside my mother as she went to work, they are Portuguese.
My first job at age 14 was reaping lemons under a blazing sun on the plot of Mr. Teixeira, a well fed man with a vas appreciation of the fertile Venezuelan soil. I grew up surrounded by Portuguese but my dream was never to travel to this country, let alone to settle in long enough to savor its blazing sun, I am here and the first thing I remember when I close my eyes and let myself be lulled to sleep by the warm breeze front coming from the sea and a coffee with milk in a Portuguese bakery.
The peixe smell coming out from the opposite house at the fisherman port in Algarve Fuzeta is intense, you feel dizzy. The uproar and mixed languages. English, German and French are snapping up opportunities to come south, to the southern most regions of Portugal.
I’m in the eastern Algarve, very close to Spain and my accent is noted. Many believe that I simply crossed the border to buy lingerie at La Villa Real de Santo Antonio or that I “just” came to spend a few days with my Spanish family. But, when I tell them that I am Venezuelan and that I actually live in Germany they strech our their arms as a sign of: “Germany is so cold” and immediately release a proud “it’s good that you are here, you will never be with out sun” and it’s true.
It is the seventh time we’ve come and this time we are gping to stay for a long period. We are not abandoning Germany entierely, a country that as given us so many opportunties, we are avoiding intakes of vitamin D in winter times. Just kidding. We are giving ourselves the pleasure and time to see our kids running along side the sea and land; we chose this country because of all the memories that it brings back to me, as if I had already lived here.
We arrived in time of pomegranates and mangoes, avocados and Abóboras which are huge and yellow Auyamas. Pomegranates are used as dividers between plots, the wieght bends the tree branches as if they were tired women and offers fruit as delicacies. Grenades are huge, deep red, they explode when it rains and leave blood stained streets behind. Mangoes grow indoors because the rain water kills them and makes them sick. Avocados are beginning to grow, they will soon be green as the winter arrives.
Visiting the beaches is a task meant only for the bravest, despite having the best water temperature, it is a luxury that can’t be afforded by many. While the regular tourist go back to their countries or to the northern part of Portugal, we unpack our “, the dusted shovels and photographed the beach and film worthy sunsets.
Among the typical dishes of the area has to offer we find “El Polvo”, which is octopus. Santa Luzia is the “Capital do Polvo” and sell octopus in many presentations, the salad is the most common one. I confess that my favorite dish is cod, it doesn’t matter how they prepare it it, it will always taste heavenly.
Sweets are so delicious they deserve a separate book all to them selves. In every coffee shop, Kiosk or Restaurant they will have “pastes de nata”, originally from Lisbon and they have extended to the entire country. Evenings always are accompanied by a Galao and Folhado com mel de queijo goat and nozes. Do not you understand? It is understood, its desired and required.
We arrived just two weeks ago and although we lost the first plane on October 5th, we did not lose the illusion nor the desire to be here. The next flight was on Friday, October 9th, we arrived in a rush because we didn’t want to miss anything: dropping suitcases, opening boxes, cleaning toilets (the parents)… playing and running around (children).
We are working hard in order to quickly adapt to all the changes, because even though the say its not forever (nothing is in life) we want to maximize our time on Portuguese soil. And so little time to celebrate two birthdays of our small tribe and now the holidays are approaching. We hope to cook some typical meals.
Our neighbor, who incidentally always comes by the yard of the house carrying a basket of fruits: custard apples, pomegranates, figs and mangoes, guides us in the ways of these lands. I look forward to live among the many accents this region gas to offer.
I remember when I was little, I never understood the Portuguese men when they spoke, they seemed very strange working men, just working and eating. I can not help it, I think a lot about the phrase “life takes many turns” and end up watching in the Spanish ladies who cross the border to the mothers of friends sons of islanders. I picture the parents of my fiends in every Portuguese worker and I imagine the Portuguese supply at the corner of my house, closing their eyes and sighing as they thought f their beloved land whoch they had not visisted sinde 1960.
It wrinkles my heart to think, that a long time ago, in one of these houses people packed their suitcases and left for Africa and some went to Venezuela. I hope that while I stay here, I have the opportunity to visit Madeira, the island that many miss.