Newsletter April 2011
Margarida Sampaio @
Well Spring has most certainly sprung now in Carvoeiro and the visitors are back in force creating a buzz about the place that makes you remember why you love Carvoeiro, reasons that can sometimes be tricky to muster during the dark long winter days.
I sat in a café today and within the period of only one hour I spotted no less than six pairs of white trousers, which to me is the true signal that we are on our way into summer now (I also spotted some fool hardy young folk in short shorts and cami vests and although it is warm it really isn't THAT warm!).
March proved to be a pretty fun party time in the town as we welcomed in one of my favourite bank holidays – Carnival.
This year it fell late in the calendar which many had hoped would signal better weather for participants and guests coming to watch us all looking silly in the name of a festival that few really know why we celebrate.
The small Friday parades by the children of the local creche, pre school and primary school took place in beautiful sunshine and it was a pleasure to watch the smallest members of the community and their parents take part in the festivities.
The theme for the children from the primary school was fruit while the younger children were able to pick out their own outfits thus leading to an invasion of spidermen and princess fairies/fairy princesses (I am told there is a distinct difference) even the school pet dog took part in the event although I am not so sure how enthusiastic he was about having a strawberry shaped hat strapped to his back.
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On the Sunday it was the turn of the grownups to join in the fun and with the theme now being the world of music there were floats featuring members of all ages and nationalities very vaguely connected to this concept.
Out came some of the worlds oldest looking tractors to pull the floats which this year featured flower power hippies, Fado singers, fishermen, dancers from the Marches do Pombal, a team of Mexicans, Carvoeiro pop stars, a jazz ensemble and a rather racy Moulin Rouge float.
The weather stayed fine and after the parade everyone gathered in the square to eat some sandwiches from the hog roast and of course, wash it all down with a couple of cold beers.
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The same spectacle was then repeated on the official day of Shrove Tuesday with more people joining in the festivities as it is an unofficial bank holiday.
This time we were joined by the local bikers who took to the streets with their children and even dogs to kick start the proceedings and I am happy to report that two of my favourite carnival participants, the famed Danny and taxi driver Eduardo, both came out for the day with their inspiring costumes being met with roars from the crowds.
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Everyone was happily drinking up the great atmosphere and plenty beer when the threatening skies finally produced the predicted rain and a monsoon like shower washed everyone away with the few brave enough to try and fight for a hog sandwich getting soaked through and leaving the whole weekend finishing on quite a damp note.
I personally loved the carnival in Carvoeiro, times are hard at the moment so it was great to see the level of effort that many people had put in to taking part in the parade and also all the people who had taken the trouble to come out and support the community over the long weekend.
ST PATRICKS DAY
While Carnival was a predominantly Portuguese affair in the parade the Irish took to the streets in their own celebration for St Patrick's Day.
There may not have been many of them but those who were there took part whole heartedly dressed in green, playing traditional Irish music and invading bars along their route.
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Speaking to some of the people who took part it seems they had hoped for greater support from other Irish residents out here but were thankful to those who had made the effort to celebrate the day in the sun.
The numbers of participants seemed to increase however in each bar as the revelers decked everyone out in green and encouraged the drinking of Guinness.
Other locals proudly representing themselves this month included the ladies netball team which, after months of training, saw the squad travel down to Vilamoura to take part in a mini tournament.
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The score line was not pretty but at least the ladies were, well done girls and keep up the good work.
If anyone would like to join the ladies, practices take part every Thursday from 6.30pm and everyone is welcome. If you decide you like it then a €1 sub is payable each week.
The squad really has been created to be fun and the wines after the practices are as much a part as the playing, so give it a try!
THE PARTIES CONTINUE
March had its fair share of celebrations but the members of the Vozes Intenses Association in Carvoerio have helped to organise the next event which is to be an Easter fair taking place in the town between April 22 and 25.
One of the organisers told me that she hopes it will be very similar to the Christmas fair held last year with live music from local performers including Rui Sax and tents selling handicrafts from local producers.
They are also looking to be able to provide children visiting the square with a small Easter gift while they are currently searching for four volunteers to don bunny and chicken costumes (I'm not joking here) to sit in an area that will be made into a mini Easter farm for children.
The party is just another one of the initiatives being arranged by the association in conjunction with the Junta and Carvofestas to try and encourage visitors to the town and to keep those who are already here entertained over the long bank holiday weekend so lets hope it is a success for all involved.
This was set up after members of the association failed to get as many people as they had hoped to the last meeting held at the Junta on March 11 so look out here for notices about further meetings or events. Please remember though that it is run by volunteers who already have their own jobs to hold down and do this simply because they want to improve Carvoeiro and help residents here.
Lets hope that this new way to communicate with the association will prevent any further confusion in the future.
I attended the meeting which had been changed in time to accommodate the GNR being able to be present, hence the uncertainty of the date – the time confusion came through a facebook notice.
There were very few residents at the meeting for whatever reason but the primary concern of those there seemed to be that of security.
Three of those at the meeting spoke of their fears and experiences with one claiming to have been the victim of burglary on several occasions while another said that she feared to even walk from her car to her home at night and another said she felt she had top barricade herself into her home through fear.
These were the opinions of these members present and cannot be said to represent everyone in Carvoeiro but as there were few others at the meeting it was actually the majority feeling on this occasion.
Two members of the Carvoerio GNR were at the meeting as was Junta president Jorge Pardal who had come down from his holidays in Lisbon especially to be able to take part.
The police listened to the worries of people and were understanding of the fears but explained that they are always only ever at the end of a phone line and if anyone ever feels scared in their property and thinks that there could be someone outside or spots a suspicious person that they only have to call them and they will come to the property in question. It transpired that in many cases the police were not called when suspicious activities were noted by residents and they ask people to be more proactive in these stuations and to work with the police to help prevent crime. The GNR representatives also spoke of a proposed plan to map all the isolated properties in the area in a scheme similar to those already in place in municipalities such as Loulé.
Anyone who considers themselves to be isolated can call the police for them to then come around to your home and take your details, including GPS coordinates, to try and work towards a better response from police to these properties in the case of a crime being committed.
Residents who live in complexes with many empty properties can also be included in this scheme while elderly residents who feel at risk are also invited by the police to contact them as there is a special service available for elderly residents.
I did find it quite shocking to hear how scared some people living here feel, especially as i always have and continue to believe that this really is the safest place I have ever lived before but I understand that everyone has had different experiences and hope that they make contact with the GNR so these problems can be addresses.
When it came to the issue of youths and problems of gangs and vandalism Jorge Pardal pointed out that during the winter months there are little to no problems in Carvoerio and it is largely outsiders coming in who cause the problems. He invited anyone with an idea of how to stop these problems to drop in and discuss it with him as he is open to suggestions to this difficult problem of needing to attract visitors to be able to survive while controlling those who come here.
The police were also asked about illegal parking and access for the post office and pharmacy with one member coming up with the idea of the pharmacy giving users a card to display in their window to let police know that they are parking legitimately. This could enable police to then clamp down on parkers who are not using the services – This is now being considered by the Junta.
There may have been few in attendance but I have to commend the association for managing to get members of the GNR and Junta president Jorge Pardal to come together for a meeting which was held in English for the community.
The police were open and honest as was Jorge Pardal (as much as they obviously can be for political reasons) and the association have vowed that they will keep up these connections to fight for what the people in Carvoeiro want to see and have done so get in touch if there is something that you think is important and they will do what ever they can.
It seems we are a pretty generous lot when it comes to giving to good causes and this month we all need to be supporting local mad woman Jen Hurst who has pledged to run the London marathon!
Jen runs through Carvoeiro every Friday in her bright yellow T-Shirt and in true Carvoeiro form enjoys a good bottle of beer as much as her running.
Already in March she managed to boost her total of funds raised for the Gauchers Association by holding a raffle of prizes in Ma-Jas but she still needs support and if you are out and about on April 9 her 20 year old son and his friends have promised to perform some Full Monty routines around the bars to raise even more money, so dig deep.
If you would like to make a donation to Jen and don't fancy the sweaty, half naked young man thing (and why ever not?) then you can always support her by visiting www.justgiving.com/Jen-Hurst.
Meanwhile Harry's Bar have organised at St George's Day bash in support of the Help 4 Heroes fund to take place on April 23. There are a number of smaller events planned to take place in the run up so pop into the bar to find out more, however Bob Harris has planned a charity auction including a €100 flight voucher, to take place on the day so it looks like it will be well worth a visit.
Finally, any of you who are residents over here are I am sure are very aware that it is census time and as a resident you have to fill in one as well.
In Portugal, not completing the census is illegal and those who do not participate face fines and even possible imprisonment, so make sure you do yours.
The form can be filled in online at www.censos2011.ine.pt where the pages are translated into English, alternatively you can fill it in at home then drop it into the Junta. If you have any questions or need any help in English then pop into the Junta and someone will help you to fill it out.
OVER AND OUT
Well that's about it from me again this month and as always please just send me an email if there is anything else that you would like to hear about or would like me to add to the newsletter that you think people need to know about.
I am off now to sit on my balcony and bronze my legs so that when friends and family come over later this month they will comment on just how brown I look to which I will reply “Heavens knows how, I never sit in it”.
Now all that is left to do is dig out my own pair of white trousers from the back of the wardrobe and hit the beach to enjoy an ice cream in the sun.
See you in May!