This story is about three young Portuguese women that I met during my month in Algarve; their ages in the eighteen to thirty group.
I followed her to the desk and as I paid her, I asked price and thanked her in Portuguese. She smiled, looking surprised, saying "Ah you speak Portuguese!"
On the way to Lagoa I said to Hub, what a lovely girl. So cheerful and bright with a wonderfully engaging manner; she would go far working in public relations!
Then proceeded to speak again, his finger jabbing upwards at the tree behind us. I finally figured out that he wanted a pomegranate that was way out of his reach. I was doubtful at picking one, not knowing the park rules and as I spied that he already had one hidden behind his back, I said "Nao desculpe"
It was a long hot uphill walk to Lagoa?s main church and we longed for shade. As we went round to the small park behind the Camara building, suddenly, the place was alive! The whole area bustled with a large gipsy market. Stalls lined the park and road selling everything from sweets and drinks to shoes and jewellery. Young children darted in and out, ducking under lines of washing strung gaily between the stall supports as colourful as any street decoration! What a complete contrast to the quiet town centre we'd just left!
We passed an interesting couple of hours on a bench close to the church. A TV crew was set-up by its large main doors and people were gathering there, I assumed, for the afternoon service. Most of the folk, maybe all, were elderly. What took my eye was the appearance of these patiently waiting Lagoans; each one, man and woman, impeccably turned out. The ladies in smart quite glamorous dresses, mostly in black; the men equally well dressed in pressed trousers and immaculate shirts. I was beginning to feel quite dowdy in my simple dress and flip-flops!
As the time wore on, nothing seemed to be developing at the church. People stood waiting and watching but the searing heat was getting to us; that and the sleepless previous night! So, reluctantly we gave into our weariness and slowly walked back down to the taxi rank and made our way back to Carvoeiro. We were sad not to have seen Sandra; to watch her part in the festivities; her friendliness and bright personality had lightened our day. We did see her a week or so later and she'd had a really good time. She said "Don't worry about not being there--there?s always next year!"
I asked if she had family replying that her five-year-old son had started school in Lagoa. Again a frown covered her face as she went on to say that she hoped to move as soon as her divorce was through. I said I was sorry to hear that, but she shrugged her shoulders saying that it had been in process for some time. Then, before I knew it she proceeded to tell me of her heartache over the past couple of years. Tears welled in her eyes and I asked her not to go on as it was clearly distressing her. But she carried on and said she felt better talking about it and maybe, because I was a stranger it was easier for her to do so.
The worst part had been when her husband told her he no longer loved her. She had known him since she was seventeen and was devastated by this news. Isabel told me many things, which I wouldn?t relate here; them being so personal. Though I have to say, when I told her of CVO.COM and the stories I write, she told me to "Go ahead"; you can write it all. But I?ve decided not too as I think some things are too private and should remain so.
However, our conversation moved on and the mood lightened as she confessed to me that she was a "romantic". We laughed together as I said "Shake hands. Me too!"
As we said goodbye, Isabel told me that when she got a new home of her own she would install a computer and get on to Carvoeiro.com. I think it would be nice for her; a place to make friends and feel part of our little community here. With her excellent English (she also speaks Spanish and French) and obvious intelligence she would be a big asset.
Hope you are on the way to your dreams Isabel and things are going well for you and your little one. I?m glad we met. If you are working Christmas week I will catch up with you then!
One day we were sitting on a bench in the park, debating whether to have lunch, when an elderly silver-haired lady hurried up to us, a slip of paper fluttering in her hands. She asked if we were Portuguese and when we said no, looked very worried. She put the cheque (for that was the piece of paper) into Hubs hand and from our limited Portuguese we came to understand that she thought it was a demand for money! After perusing it, Hub assured her that it was a "rebate" from Electricity Company. She had overpaid her bill and if she took it to the post office, they would reimburse her. A smile broke over her face, and she shook our hands in thanks and went on her way to the post office.
We sat at one of the cafes red tables. Then Sonia made her appearance! She fairly bounced up to our table sporting a warm friendly smile asking what we would like? When she brought our lunch I asked her where we could find some lively entertainment. Maybe some local traditional singing and dancing. Her face broke into a big grin, "Oh Alvor!", she enthused, "I love Alvor! I go every Friday or Saturday! "She carried on" You may find some traditional Portuguese music; a guitar player maybe. There is always something going on. It?s a small place but you will enjoy. I love to go and sing Karaoke!"
As she said this her face beamed. I asked if she had a good voice; her reply was, that her friends thought so, but she didn?t!
I watched her with other customers; warm and friendly with each one she bubbled with life and I?ve no doubt that?s the reason so many came to eat there.
We visited the cafe regularly, often seeing the same folk each time. We noticed one elderly couple, who must have been in their 80s and what drew our notice was that the lady played "footsie" under the table with her husband. Her shoe rubbed against his lower leg; he would look at her. Then move his leg away! Then she would do it again, with him giving same reaction. She was playing a game that he wouldn?t take part in. It made me smile and I thought, "She?s still young at heart!"
We got to know Sonia very well and on asking her if she had a computer, she replied, "I did. But the children ran up the bill so high I had to send it back"
I agreed and 10 minutes later she arrived with a small silver teapot, a bunch of short green stalks protruding from its lid. I was a little apprehensive but she said "See and smell!? I did. It had a lemon smell and was the colour of limes. But the taste was even better! Refreshingly citrus a little sweet so no need for sugar. On asking what it was, Sonia said it was a herb called "Prince-P". When I said it was delicious, she said, "If you come here tomorrow, I will bring you some"
Needless to say, we did return the following day and as we sat down, Sonia hurried up to us with a large plastic bag from which protruded long green stems. When I thanked her, she pointed into the cafe saying "My mother brought it for you. It grows in her garden" I waved to the small figure, saying "Muito obrigada Senhora" and she waved back replying "de nada".
Out of all the "new" friends we made on our holiday, Sonia stands out like a little shining beacon. Her warmth and obvious "joy of living" touched us and we sincerely hope we meet up with her again next spring!