Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

A town out of time – Portugal 4

The Old man and the Aviary 

 

 

We awoke to the sun dappling on the waters of the River Mira, and I got breakfast over with

uncharacteristically quickly so that we could get out and explore Odemira properly.

 

The path alongside the river where we had parked seemed to continue on for some distance,

and we chose to follow it, delighting in the beautiful wooden lantern posts and decking that provided

paths and seating along the way. Immediately, it was clear that this was a town the locals were

proud of. Where the path terminated, surrendering grudgingly to the ever-steepening bank, we

discovered what initially looked like a shrine of some sort, topped with a stone cross, but further investigation

proved that it had a twin on the opposite bank, and within its alcove a wooden windlass of sorts.

 

Attempting to decipher the information plaque nearby, it appears that it used to be a “self-help”

rope-pull ferry, from the sixteenth century. Inevitably superceded by the iron bridge above, it sits quietly

amidst the foliage, a gentle reminder of another time.

 

A wooden staircase took us up to a cobbled street, and two ladies sat chatting in communal garden area

wished us a cheerful “bom dia!” as we passed.  Our shopping list that morning was modest: postcards

and bread, but this was an old-fashioned village and such items are often tucked away in nooks and crannies.

 

We finally found the postcard shop, and the woman who owned it was so helpful, so pleasant, and all to

earn just 60 cents from us. The same occurred as we spent 70 cents on bread, a cheerful shop owner

explaining the choices with a smile. We wandered around looking for somewhere to sit to write the cards and

relax a while, and came across a small square. It was a wonder. Gently running water from cool pools

dotted around the place, old floks sat chatting , eating their lunch alfresco – and most amazing of all –

an aviary, full of all manner of budgerigars, every colour of the rainbow.

 

At that moment, surveying the scene of happy people, of all ages, the calm, the sight of the birds, I felt like

we were witness to a little piece of heaven. I don’t know if the people of Odemira realise how lucky they are,

I suspect they do, but it did my heart good to see a place with such a healthy soul could still exist.

 

Odemira is almost certainly a town out of time, but what lessons it could teach its opposite numbers in the

UK, and elsewhere, where the heart is rotten and corrupt and colourful budgies are discarded in favour of

the technicolor sprawl of obscene graffitti.  Where old people don’t eat their lunch outside and chat with friends,

but cower indoors, cold and afraid.

 

Politicians should quit the glad-handing and gravy train sojourns to Brussels and the like,  living like pigs

 off the fat of the land and visit places like Odemira and see for themselves the simple truth:

 Respect your town and its people, and it will pay you back one hundred fold.

 

Iron age tree

 

Kev Moore 

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June 10, 2008 - Posted by | Art, culture, life, travel, writing | , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Kev and miki, you’ll make me immigrate to Portugal!

    Comment by iondanu | June 11, 2008

  2. Haha, Danu! I guess we should be getting paid by the Portuguese tourist board for all this positive advertising!

    Currently on the coast again, enjoying blue seas, blue skies and sunshine, more travel reports on the way!

    Comment by kevmoore | June 12, 2008

  3. Hello Kev,

    I’m from Odemira, and I’m glad you liked to visit this modest little place. It’s a very peaceful place.

    Has a reminder, we have one of the most fantastic festivities from this region in 24th and 25th of April. Celebrating the fall of dictatorship in Portugal. It’s full of people from all around and a lot of good music fireworks and happy people.

    Comment by Ricardo Ramos | April 13, 2010

  4. Bom Dia, Ricardo! Yes, we liked Odemira very much, and I guess one day we’ll come in April to enjoy the festivities, as we plan to re-visit Portugal a lot. You may be interested to know that my partner Miki, a French artist, painted many scenes of Odemira on that trip, and one has been chosen for selection in the creation of a new calendar in Japan, so your ‘modest little place’ is traveling around the world!

    Comment by kevmoore | April 13, 2010


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