Memories of Rosita - Carvoeiro in the sixties Primary tabs

Please also read Mr. Tim Motion's comments on this article: 29/07/2009



Have you ever wondered what Carvoeiro was like 50 years ago?

Algarve Living Enlisted the help of some friends of the writer, Lois Rowe, to find out, and they took us on a trip down memory lane

Charles and Teresa were living in Wimbledon with their four children and decided they would like to have their own holiday home somewhere in the sunshine, A friend who had just bought a fisherman’s cottage near Carvoeiro, suggested they try the Algarve.

In Autumn of 1963. the whole family went to Portugal looking for a piece of building land. There was no airport at Faro, so they flew to Lisbon and got train to Portimão. They stayed at the Hotel Belavista in Praia do Rocha. Although the food was not very good, the rooms were well appointed and they had glorious views over-looking the sea.

An estate agent took them round looking for a suitable location They found what they were looking for at the top of the Estrada do Farol, now known as Restaurant Hill. Mid way through the negotiations, the farmer concerned suddenly upped his price to an unacceptable level. Charles returned to England whilst Teresa stayed on to continue the search.

Eventually she found three adjoining strips of almond orchard, not far from their original choice, end managed to agree prices with all three farmers and the sale took place. To complete the paper-work. they all had to go to the Câmara to have their thumb prints witnessed. as none of them could read or write. The house was designed with the help of a Portuguese architect who Lived in London, and it took about a year to build. Teresa was back and forth during that twelve months, staying with friends, who had a house above Centianes beach, so she could check on the progress of the builders. It had one large room, surrounded by balconies, all without doors. The children loved to get up in the morning and run straight down to the sands below.

Whilst their, seven year old Ann, set her heart on having a donkey. Her parents enlisted the help of a burro (donkey) expert and Rosita, a black donkey was purchased for 2000 escudos. Ann was ecstatic but the host was not to pleased when Rosita began eating his plants and bushes. One night she escaped and all the family went looking for her in their night clothes but she was nowhere to be seen. The following day they put up a notice in the village offering a 100 escudos reward for Rosita's return.

Within a few hours, four mangy donkeys were brought in turn up to the house, none of them black. Several days later, to Ann's delight, a young lad brought back the real Rosita! He had found her near the lighthouse, her original home.

Carvoeiro in the sixties
Ann liked to ride the her donkey, sometimes pulling a small cart, down into Carvoeiro. the local boys ran alongside, trying to unseat her, but she not only managed to hold her own but picked up quite an extensive vocabulary of Portuguese swear words. In due course when Ann became more interested in boys than in Rosita, she was eventually sold.

The basic house was finished, with a cisterna for storing water, which had to be bought. The water and gas were brought up the rough lane to the house by mule cart. The telephone was installed before the house was completed, and the last three numbers,   denoted the number of subscribers in the area. It was 18, so they were the 18th home in the village to have a phone.

Not far away, in a primitive cottage lived an ex-army cook with his wife and child. They went to work for Charles and Teresa, he as a cook and she as a maid. He was a good cook, but rather eccentric in his appearance. He never wore any shoes and always had on a battered trilby, both in and outside the house. He was also an excellent gardener and grew many different fruit and vegetables. which he used for the table. One day, when the family were entertaining guests, not very well versed in etiquette, he interrupted lunch by rushing in to show the first melon of his crop.

Later the cook went into business on his own and became a butcher but unfortunately he was not a good financier and it didn't work out.

In the mid sixties Carvoeiro  had only one street, the Rua dos Pescadores. What is now the Rua do Barranco was a reed lined river which ran into the sea. The only houses were those on Rua dos Pescadores, Rua do Casino and the two streets on either side of the cliff. There was a general store facing the beach, now the site of a bank, whilst a short way up the street was a narrow greengrocers shop known as Hole in the Wall, which is still in existence. Then, as now, it was possible to step down into the shop at one end and exit up a step at the other. Thirty years ago it also dealt with all the mail and had a wind-up telephone for the use of the public. Further up was a small newsagents shop. There was a municipal market, now replaced by an apartment block, were fruit, vegetables, meat and bread could be bought.

On the right side of the beach was the Atlantico Restaurant. It had very little selection and was mainly used by workmen. No wine was available, only beer. There was several bars, one of which, Gloria's Taverna, also ran a taxi service. Just off the Rua do Casino, was the Algarve's first night spot, Sob e Desce, "Up and Down", which had been registered in 1961 as the first discotheque  in Portugal. The proprietor was an Irishman, also a Jazz buff, who played the saxophone Downstairs was reserved for dancing whilst food was served upstairs. Breakfast was served on the terrace. During the next twenty years, many famous artists and groups appeared at Sob e Desce, including Georgie Fame, Cat Stevens, Donavan and Ronnie Scott. Later it was renamed Whispers. Today it exists as The Jailhouse and is still a late night live music bar open every night for most of the year.

Centianes, the restaurant under the cliffs, was where all the social events took place and the return journey up the cliff in the darkness, along a rocky path with no steps or rails was extremely hazardous. The family who now run "0 Stop” used to bring sup- plies for the restaurant by pulley over the cliff.

From the Junta de Freguesia and along side the Estrada do Farol was open country side. This was where Charles and Teresa had their house built. There were no buses and only rough tracks. Once the house was completed it was time to plan the garden. They still have a copy of the Construction and Landscaping Contract, dated November 1966.

Lemon grapefruit, and orange trees cost 50 esc each and a cart-load of manure was 700 esc. Pruning 155 Almond trees, 1 Carob tree and 9 Fig trees cane to 1,500 esc. and a new vine 70 feet long was 140 esc.! Including all the labour for digging, spraying, and preparation the total came to 13.884,75 esc., which Charles thought was rather expensive. Thirty years on all the citrus trees, are still flourishing. When Charles and Teresa built their house it was the only one in that area, but over the years it has become surrounded by houses, apartments, and developments of all kinds, but they still have their glorious view across Carvoeiro to Praia do Rocha, along with their memories of times past. - LOIS ROWE