So I cancelled my Portugal trip and instantly regretted it. I was due to return to Porto mid-August. (I cancelled because of the high Covid numbers here, there and everywhere. Safer to stay at home, I reckon.) But I’m disappointed. I was so looking forward to doing exactly what I did last August when I spent eleven marvellous days there: walking, exploring, taking photos, talking to people, exploring some more, eating and drinking tasty new foods and beverages, soaking up the atmosphere and wondering if I could live there in the future; taking the train to a beach town called Praia da Barra. It was hot, but a cool and constant breeze blew in off the ocean; it was like having permanent air conditioning.
The apartment I rented was in a district called Bonfim. I’ll stay in that area again. One day I walked and walked and ended up at the gates of a huge cemetery called Cemitério Prado do Repouso. I happen to like visiting cemeteries, and was curious to visit a Portuguese one.
You can tell a lot about a culture and society by their cemeteries. This one was spick and span clean.
For a final resting place it was a hive of activity: municipal workers sweeping and swabbing. Visitors bearing fresh flowers and paying respect to their loved ones. What touched me the most were the widows. Armed with buckets and brooms, they refreshed the flowers and swept and cleaned the gravesites of their husbands. Not wishing to intrude on their privacy, I kept my distance and watched them. I used a telephoto lens.
Family is tight in Portugal. Parents are revered and respected by their children even past adulthood. I like to read the inscriptions and imagine the lives of the deceased. Here below and at the age of 74, Maria died a mere month after her husband.
Church, family and tradition is apparent in Portugal. Also cleanliness, friendly and helpful people, and a super-difficult language (no, it’s not like Spanish at all.) Lucky for me, I came across retired people on a few occasions who spoke fluent French because they had lived and worked in France for decades. The Portuguese in France make up one of the country’s longest-established communities. The biggest influx was during the 30-year boom that followed World War II. By 1975, the number of Portuguese in France had soared to 750,000.
To see more photos of my trip last year to Porto and the nearby beach town (plus Lisbon a few years earlier), click on PORTUGAL up top.