European Chronicles-3


Algarve with a timid sun and rain, it’s not my favorite banquet. Nonetheless, I had a good reason to stay a few days in Albufeira. Today I can say that in Portugal I only have one member of my family worthwhile visiting. I shall call him Old Poet. The few of my Portuguese family are distant or fighting for some reason.


I found the Old Poet very strong and involved in the distribution of his new book. In Albufeira, he is well known and cared. I could see that I am not the only one to call him poet. Despite his tough looks, he has humor and an acute spirit of observation. I suspect that he is in love with someone, but that’s another story.


The Old Poet has the usual idiosyncrasies of old people. If you care about them, the art is lots of comprehension and love. I found so many things in common between the him and me as differences. Similarities surprise and move me. Differences surprise and amuse me. Since I’ve lost my mother, I don’t want anybody else so close to feel deprived of my love. Besides, he is the only person in the entire world capable of telling me something like: “Go wash your little hands before lunch!”


I had some pleasant moments while in Albufeira, like wakening with a rainbow right in front of my room window. Like smiling and joking all the time with my favorite poet. Like spotting a street stall attended by a dog. Like finding a blind man disguising his dog with his own sunglasses. Like enjoying the views. Like playing on the streets and city buses with Old Poet and Paul, making people smile and surprise with our madness.


(How to play in a city bus: You need two silly players and two silly hats. The bus can be called Giro, mainly used for city tours, or any other. The players have to be standing in the middle of the bus, surrounded by more or less ten seated old and young sad faces. The first player takes his hat off and puts it on the top of the cap or hat of the second player. The second player has to be in a good mood and play along. He keeps the silly grey hat of the first player, deciding to put his own on the first player’s head. The first player runs from him without visible success. Soon the hat swap makes all the sad faces smile. Before walking out from the bus don’t forget to say goodbye or wave with your hat. When people smile together, somehow they stop being strangers.)


At the same time, I wondered a lot. Why does this town seem to grow without a plan? Does quality have to be that expensive? Do people pay for smiling?


Tourism has to be more than a business. More than what nature has to offer. There is a savoir faire still absent around here.


One of the British retired couples befriending my Old Poet reported to me:


“In our brand new apartment we freeze during winter, and during summer the thermometer reads 55ºC on the balcony. When we bought the place and asked for air conditioner, they told us to use warm coats or go for a swim!”


This says a lot about present-day Algarve. If you are there, take care of yourself because no one else will.