Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Opinions on the Cape Verde "experience" ...

" Despite being slightly late (our African "roots" must have played its own role on this) we would like to say a few words related to our trip to Santiago.

It was a unique experience and we would like to believe it to be the first of many others to come. We consider it was a touching privilege to have travelled with such a group.

You are a rather unique woman in your way of being and standing up despite all the ups and downs in your life and in as much as keeping courageous and energetically pursuing your way whilst overcoming every obstacle that comes your way without "disarming yourself", as if each of those could simply be challenges .

You are a citizen of the world, wherever your non-egoistic support and help is needed. Throughout this journey we observed and witnessed the tender, affectionate and respectful attitudes the children had in regards to you every time they "saw" you, as if you could be a sun ray in their lives.

You are an effective story teller, colouring reality with its strokes of paint, which had us hooked and mesmerised whilst listening to you.

A huge thank you from
Wanda and Rui Neves"

Monday, 25 February 2013

"A very easy death" by Simone de Beauvoir ...

Irrespective of being  a rather touching day-by-day account of Simone de Beauvoir mother's death and thus a very personal description it is also profoundly moving as to one's own thoughts about death, life's regretful feelings and memories.

It may sound strange that I have (lately) been reading books on ageing, life's reflections and now death, but such matters do surface from time to time despite the fact that in regards to this latest issue  "le malheur, c'est que cette aventure commune à tous, chacun la vit seul" ... according to the author ...

A book worth reading any time ...

Saturday, 23 February 2013

"The lemon table" by Julian Barnes ...

I had no idea I'd be finishing a book yesterday and start reading a collection of eleven short stories, which I almost finished this morning ... but that's precisely what happened when I got "lost" in Julian Barnes' majestic writing.

The symbolism of the book's title has been made explicit by the author once for the Chinese the lemon is the symbol of death, thus whenever  he gathers to discuss mortality or any other related issues, the local café table becomes their "lemon table".

The eleven short stories  are related to ageing and its variegated  emotions, which may range from regret to awareness of the growing inability  to pursue passions with the same old vigour. But the book is a lot more than simply that - it is a rather clever approach to life and the desire to hang on it.

There are quite a few stories I thoroughly enjoyed and though none left me indifferent the one which impressed me most  was the story of Mats Israelson for being utterly poignant on what unrequited love may mean.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The latest book I have read ...

It has taken me three consecutive nights to read the 448 pages of "Tête à tête - the lives and loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre", a biographical account by Hazel Rowley.

If according to the author she became totally obsessed while writing it, I must confess I felt a similar obsession while reading it ... 

Controversial as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre's relationship may have been, Rowley's approach whose writing style is compelling, emerges as non judgmental.

This  biography has given me a thorough insight as to what their life was like from 1929 through to 1985 and helped me understand their intimacy through their own perspective.

Many other reasons could be pointed out as to why this particular book has been especially meaningful for me, but I'd rather leave it at that ...

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Opinions on the Cape Verde "experience" ...

" I was taken by your strength and courage, though the moment I saw you socialising with those children I realised it was more than that - it was tenderness, unselfishness and respect. As you spoke to them with the love they so much crave for you simultaneously reminded them of the duties and values a human being should have. 

All of this was carried out in an "incessant movement" and energy that I came to understand characterised you. Despite having been the first time we spent some time together it was not difficult to judge you on the basis of the capacity you have to express yourself, the joy and easy relationship, together with the way you face life.

As to being a "story" teller I must say I am speechless. Story is in inverted comas, because it is not fictional and somehow corresponds to hard reality scenarios you have had to face and some of them overcome in a rather extraordinary way ... I strongly believe they are responsible for having you move on.

You are an extraordinary woman. Thank you for what you have given us and I do hope we meet again.

A kiss. "

Rosa Barros

"I have fully confirmed (200%) what I already knew about you: your unselfish approach to life, your energy, your cultural background, your life experience and above all (throughout this trip) the gigantic and indescribable commitment in regards to the cause you have embraced in Calheta de São Miguel. Gigantic because there are no adequate means to effectively measure it and indescribable because no words will ever translate the expression on the faces of all the children and friends you have made in Santiago island (will any of the 2000 photos I have taken be able to ?...).

This unforgettable trip has become a life experience for both Rosa and I. As you know I have been around the world, which I believe gives a reasonable degree of credibility in as much as telling you that you have well guided us through a rich and fairly unique trip.

There is also a small (though rather big for me) detail I must maybe egoistically refer to: you together with the group we travelled with have helped me "shake the dust off" my forthcoming fears (if I may say it this way ...).

Because of it (and not only) I want to simply say THANK YOU.

A friendly kiss."

João Barros

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Praia, Cape Verde - Day 4 (the last day) - the 12th of February 2013

João accompanied me very early in the morning down to Terra Branca to take a present to the daughter of one of the young ladies working at a former pension I had stayed at, whose location despite being just about fifteen minutes walk from the pension we were all staying at now might have been "problematic", had I gone alone at such an early hour.

We had the whole morning to "explore" Plateau as well as part of Achada de Santo Antonio, having walked down towards the tourist area of the beaches along the bay and up to Plateau again before preparing ourselves to watch the Carnival parade.

Quebra Canela beach (left) and Prainha (right)

Gamboa beach 

We stopped at "Quintal da Musica" to have "catchupa" (another typical Cape Verdian plate) for lunch and then not knowing what to expect walked down towards Sucupira and Avenida Lisboa, where the parade was supposed to start by around two ...


It started, as most things in Africa, "slightly later" than the announced hour but we had a great time just watching the colour ... movement ... creativity ... (from condoms used as decorative pieces calling the attention to diseases like HIV to vibrant colours ... and or barely any clothes) ... 

It was very hot and though we felt sorry for some of those who were like ourselves in the sun awaiting  for the Carnival parade to start ... nobody seemed to be concerned about either the delay or the extreme heat ...

By the time we had to get to the pension so as to head to the Airport the Carnival parade was still going on ...

With a few minor setbacks ... we managed to leave Praia on our way to Lisbon by midnight ... after what could be considered a four day hard working holiday type of adventure ...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Cidade Velha, Cape Verde - Day 3 (the afternoon and evening) - The 11th of February 2013

Soon after our visit to the Emergency Centre we got back to the hotel and then walked down to Sucupira so as to get on our public transport to Cidade Velha, just in time to have our "fish stew" meal ordered in time for lunch.

We walked around the UNESCO designated Banana street up to the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosario, which I visit every time I travel to Praia.

We then headed back to the small restaurant by the bay where we sat having our excellent lunch and enjoying the surrounding activities, which included a "Bandeirona" procession (typically from the island of Fogo) with drum players and flags being swirled around amidst an impersonating-like theatrical performance heading the parade displaying a slave being dragged along the cobbled stone streets like in the old days.

Caldo de peixe cu modjo de San Niclau (fish stew with a São Nicolau island type of sauce).

After lunch we risked climbing up the steep hill towards the UNESCO designated Fortress of São Filipe though by the time we reached it we had to head back down for it would soon be closed, thus not allowing us to have the necessary time to visit it thoroughly and as the sun was going down, so were our "limited" possibilities of visiting the ruins of the Cathedral.

We drove back to Sucupira having then walked up to Plateau, so as to get ready for a night at "Quintal da Musica", just around the corner from our hotel to have dinner and listen to the singer Nataniel Simas and the musician Ulisses Português.

We did enjoy the evening, though we were worried with the fact that Rosa wasn't feeling too well. Nataniel's melodic voice ended up soothing her sickness, as we sat quietly listening to his mornas and coladeiras, some of which very touching. Some other singers were invited in, one of them being the "old" Daniel Rendall, a marvellous singer and musician as well.

Throughout the evening several musical styles were played to honour the guests and  as an Angolan rebita was being played I was unexpectedly invited to dance ... my initial response was hesitant, but the moment I realised the young man was Angolan and feeling how important it would be for him to express his "feelings" on the dance floor I ultimately accepted the challenge.

That was the beginning of the "official" dance floor "opening, as Wanda and I kept on being called in to dance.

Nataniel Simas (left).

Nataniel Simas and Daniel Rendall (left).

It was a rather tiring day with activities which ranged from the humanitarian through to the cultural ones ... but  certainly a day to remember for a long time ...