Monday 7 April 2008

A bom entendedor meia palavra basta

Oh, for pity’s sake, I absolutely adore Portugal. Why do some places just feel so right? I remember once, whilst spending winter here a few years back - as we often used to do before I became a pathetically unstable house-bound retard – that we visited Fatima to have a wee look at the Catholics. Just to see, I suppose, what on earth they might be up to. 

Some of them, as it happens, were shuffling across the vast expanse of the Basilica on their knees, whispering words to Mary or Jeepers or both. I don’t really know, I’m afraid, but it managed to be a little bit beautiful, as well as sharply unsettling. I wanted to stare openly or maybe just take some intrusive close-up photos of their faces like those shatteringly predictable middle-class guys do when they bump into Peruvians up a mountain. And what’s that all about?

Anyway, stepping through the sliding doors of Faro airport on Friday morning felt brilliant. Beautiful world, I’ve quite probably missed you. 

Now look, I’m not made of girl parts, thank goodness, so I didn’t sob or faint or suddenly start to outperform boys in the sciences or anything crass like that. No. I did need to sit down for an hour, though, before heading on my way. I imagine I probably looked highly distinguished and wordly, you know, sitting there.

Internally, however, I was falling to my knees and embarking on a crawlingly grateful voyage round Portugal, licking walls, pavements, legs, trees, the very air and more. I was meticulously licking my way up the wild Atlantic coast and then down the jiggy border with Spain – being v. careful, obviously, not to stray into Spanish territory as I did so (yuck). Then I turned west at Villa Real and started licking my way towards Lagos. And don’t get me started on Lisbon.

Where was I? Yes. I opted to slum in a (pleasingly) grubby tourist resort. Within a tantalising reach once more, however, I’m dreaming of Monchique in the mountains; Loule with its throbbingly fishtastic food market; the fortification at Silves where, if you feel like singing, it’s possible to revel in a near perfect accoustic sound in the defunct and ancient cistern; Lagos; Portimao; Ferragudo and Fuseta......too much goodness. Little wonder, really, that I’ve already missed my flight home. Two days? What was I thinking? But God, how I miss my dog. At least she's safe with my girlfriend, I suppose.

Anyway, at this time of year, the resort is only really hirple-swarming with British and Dutch pensioners, so the rhythm is fairly glacial, thank goodness. If you stop and listen, however, the rowdy echo of a charmless hedonism palpably fills the air. Sullenly empty bars wait for the returning hordes of a uniformly drab and unexceptional youth to hit their violent peaks of witless vulgarity in the middle of a scorching July. At a guess. 

None of this matters, of course, because me and the pensioners are tight. I’m not saying they don’t occasionally smell of cat and pee, I’m just saying that if I have to endure talking with anyone, then I’d far prefer them to be in the mid-seventies to death bracket.

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