Where is everybody?

I do like a laugh, don’t you? Even when it’s at my own expense. Last Sunday, with huge enthusiasm, I persuaded a small group of friends to join me at the Christmas market in Odeleite, a beautiful village in the Algarve hills. I had seen it advertised in the monthly programme of events and was keen to go. Two years previously I’d enjoyed a morning up there, amid market stalls, crafts, carollers and cake! Metal sculptures lined the steep road down into the valley, and music and laughter drifted up, along with some tempting aromas.

This year was to be a little different. We arrived in two cars, and surveyed the empty car park with disbelief. No jubilant sounds reached our ears. Instead, curious gazes followed us as we started our descent into the village. ‘Bom dia’, we politely greeted them. As we turned the corner, just for a moment, I anticipated a flurry of activity. But no! A sad sight met our eyes. Preparations had obviously been underway for the planned fair, but had been abandoned.

The bullock rusted quietly in the empty stable. Last time he had been accompanied by a live donkey and a small pony as well as the traditional crib scene. Sheep had bleated from the hillside. I felt as perplexed as the new reindeer. Fortunately my companions found it highly amusing that I had brought them to a non-existent fair. I had even remembered my purse- a most uncommon event! But, oh, they did bemoan the lack of pork bifanas and cake. We wandered the village, looking for signs of life and formulating a plan.

It’s an attractive village and we whiled away half an hour, admiring the artworks, before venturing further. I was, of course, shod for a shopping expedition rather than a hike on rough paths, but I gave it a go. Until destiny, in the form of 2 hunters with guns, persuaded us that a better option might be to return to the village cafe. Sundays and Thursdays are fair game for hunters and we had no desire to be quarry. There’s usually a bright side, if you look for it, and we shared a couple of sweet mince pastries along with our coffee.

He’s just rootling! You know how pigs are. We adjourned to the restaurant, where there’s a great view down over the village.

And the moral of the story? Make sure the event hasn’t been cancelled before you set off. Portugal has recently declared a State of Calamity, which sounds so much worse than it is, but it does mean that some events won’t take place. Happily, just a few days later, we passed through a village where Christmas celebrations were in full swing. More of that later.

You want to know about the dessert? A sticky almond and coconut confection. I couldn’t even finish it! No pastry next time!

99 thoughts on “Where is everybody?

  1. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : would you believe it? | Still Restlessjo

  2. Pingback: Santa Rita – the most joyful village! | Still Restlessjo

  3. The only thing missing is a series of pictures of the expectant faces looking hopeful, then bewildered, then laughing. My wandering about the fields in shopping shoes days are over, but your fields are less like quagmires. I hardly know what to say about the calamity that is less than an emergency, other than I hope you’ll manage to have an excellent Christmas anyway. Best not to say anything about the situation here. Sigh.

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    • Hiya, darlin! The funniest thing! We were back up at Odeleite on a walk this morning and the crib scene has been completed. They were obviously not in a hurry to finish it when the Christmas fair had been cancelled. As for this Sunday’s walk, I still don’t know. I need to consult their website this evening, but we have contingency plans. Calamities obviously come in all shapes and sizes.

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    • You and me, both! We’re still hoping that Sunday’s walk is on – reminds me, I need to check! – but it seems to depend on individual councils? The post I’m putting up tomorrow is in the loveliest little village and the fair went ahead. We came across it by accident. But that’s the Algarve for you! Why we love it, I guess!

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  4. oh no, you were so looking forward to the fair! I must admit though I did giggle too.

    We can’t wait to return to a state of calamity as the Portuguese calamity is so much safe and better managed than the level 4 mess up here. Fingers crossed we can fly back soon

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  5. I can’t imagine a ‘Christmas Market’ happening in such a beautifully bright, warm looking place!! What very clever metal structures – at least they were still there for you to mingle with – and it does sound as though you made a good day of the trip, despite the unplanned footwear!

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    • You always have to make the best of whatever comes along, don’t you, Emma? And we had a good giggle and a lovely day out. It’s beautiful again today. Just making a plan ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ’• Incidentally the market from 2 years ago is on the link to the old blog near the top of this post. Another sunny day as I recall, though maybe not quite so warm. Thanks for your company, hon ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

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      • Well, it sounds as though You made the most of the unexpected unraveling of that day too, Jo! I’m looking for the silver lining under our grey clouds as prepare to venture out this morning, and trying not to turn green with envy at your ‘beautiful again today’ weather!! x

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      • No, the clouds have cleared and we now have blazing sunshine – I’m just setting the deck chairs out for a morning drink on the terrace… always had a good imagination, me
        I do love Bougainvillea – such an exotic flower ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Sorry there was no market, but you still made the best out of your trip. “State of calamity” doesn’t sound too good, but I think the whole of Europe is in some sort of calamity. Keep safe Joanne.

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    • It does seem a very dramatic way of describing the situation, Sami. I’ve ceased following the numbers, though I’m aware they are increasing. We all hoped for a normal Christmas but it does seem in jeopardy right now. Wishing you and your family well.

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  7. You gave me quite a chuckle with your story, Jo. I can just picture you all excited for a day of festive shopping and finding it all deserted. Then deciding to hike but realizing you’re deemed “fair game?” You and your friends will have a story that connects you for years to come. I also laughed at Portugal’s label “State of Calamity.” I know it’s probably a little dramatic, but I so appreciate the intention. I think it fits most countries at the moment. We can remain optimistic and hopeful while still calling it like it is. You really made me smile. We are all a little unsteady, I think! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Trying to steady the ship doesn’t seem to be working well at the moment, Debbie. What were the odds on a second Christmas of uncertainty? I try to stay cheerful, and hopefully we will still get to see our son, but concerts and all the joy of the season are in danger of being drained away. And I’m really not sure if it’s worth it. Tiptoeing around this virus and living in fear don’t seem to me to be the answer. Easy for me to say, perhaps, when I haven’t been a victim. But my life has become a victim and I’m not sure it’s justified. Was there a time when we believed our leaders? I’m sure that time has gone. Sorry for such a negative response on a post designed to make you smile. Glad it did, for a little while.

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  8. LOL, I know EXACTLY how you felt Jo. My S-I-L and I took a special trip to downtown Denver when I visited her last to see a wonderful annual art show. We couldn’t find it, kept asking people, no one knew anything, nor did the venue that was hosting it look any different than it always does. Discovered when we gave up that the event was scheduled for the following month! We laughed until we cried!!! Loved the beautiful images and happy to report we did NOT come across any armed hunters on our end. Happy Holiday to you and yours – cancelled events notwithstanding!

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  9. Oh my gosh, Jo, I giggled a little as I read your post, as something similar happened to me! I headed out to go to a craft fair in our town (I thought it was a weird day for it–Tuesday at 10 am). I pulled up to a completely empty parking lot! I got on Facebook where I saw the event and it was scheduled for Saturday but had been canceled. At least I didn’t have anyone in tow with me! But at least you enjoyed a nice walk, fresh air, decadent dessert, and good friends! I got bupkis, LOL! Egads, a State of Calamity? Bummer. Hope you all stay safe and enjoy your holiday season!

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  10. I’m intrigued by all the metal sculptures in the village. Is it a very arty place? Sorry about the lack of a market and the overly sweet cake but the sun was shining and the day turned out well. Lovely pictures captured, to be tagged, numbered, and filed in the correct folder (!) or do you just leave them hanging about as I do until it’s too late to remember what they really meant at the time? And a short trip home on the horizon? Now that’s really something to get excited about. Maybe bring it forward before our glorious leader decides that as he knows nothing the best thing is to lock us all down again and it might all go away. As it is, you will be faced with more expense for tests.

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    • We were surprised by the metal animals, too, Mari, but there is a sculptor who’s been producing similar work all across the Eastern Algarve and it’s a delight to see. No, I’m not too good with the folders, either. Organised chaos best describes it. As for Boris- I live in fear and trembling. Several of our friends have made it home without misadventure other than delays waiting for test results. Have to just hope.

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  11. Best laid plans and all that…๐Ÿคฃ and I think we have been living in a state of calamity for a good two years since the clown took charge! So what are the hunters actually hunting? Or perhaps I don’t want to know.

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  12. Guess sticky almond and coconut confection requires a lot of black coffee to rinse down.? ๐Ÿ˜€

    It’s more and more about “always looking on the bright side of life” – nevertheless all the political and so on experts do not know as much as they let us ordinary people believe. Their opinions are most often like the wind blowing, therefore the reality “blowing in the wind”. *tired smile icon*

    But you did some wonderful captures. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. It is so lovely to discover you are still blogging Jo… I was wondering why you didn’t show up in my Reader for ages. Then I found you via Amy’s (SharedandConnect). Sometimes you do need to move on and on to other things ๐Ÿ˜Š
    Pity about the event that didn’t go ahead. Sometimes you just don’t know until you get there. The hunters sound like they meant business and the cafe sounded like a great place to relax for a bit. Hope all is well lovely ๐Ÿ˜Šโค

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    • Hi Mabel! I’ve seen you sometimes on Instagram and didn’t know if you knew about Still Rjo, but I didn’t want to go touting for trade. I figured anyone who wanted to find me would do, so thanks for that.
      I always forget about Sundays and Thursdays, Mabel, but as we were only going to the village it never entered my head. They were friendly enough. Just didn’t want us to get shot accidentally ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ’•
      Still not sure what events will take place here. New Year’s fireworks were cancelled, and then not! A bit of a lottery ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ’• Hoping to make it to the UK for a flying Christmas visit. ๐Ÿค—๐ŸŽ„โ˜ƒ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

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      • I always enjoy your photos and walks on your Instagram, Jo. Guess it was meant to be I found you again ๐Ÿค— It does sound like a bit of a lottery on what events are on and not. Good luck for a UK visit and hope to hear more of the festivities from your part of the world ๐Ÿ’•

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  14. Well … you had me grinning throughout your adventure that was not to be. The sounds of your friends giving you a rough time made it all the way across The Pond. But, you couldn’t finish the dessert? Oh boy – the lack of an event upset you more than I realize. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  15. Oh dear, what a shame – your own minor calamity I guess! But some art, a short walk and coffee and pastries with friends and that view seem fair compensation for the journey there ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • It’s up by one of the main reservoirs, Sarah, and a favourite area for walking. My link Christmas market at the top of the post takes you to what it was like 2 years ago. A grand day out ๐Ÿค—๐ŸŽ„โ˜ƒ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

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  16. This had me chuckling Jo. No market, but you still managed to make a good outing out of it. And oh how blue is that sky. Hard to plan anything in advance these days. Hope Christmas goes well for you.

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  17. I did have a wry smile Jo at the adventure to a non-event. I do think the world needs to have a rating system and I am voting that a State of Calamity is included. It should sit between Whoa and Oh Shit ๐Ÿ™‚

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  18. Oh, well, I think you had a good day anyway. And a mince pastry? Have the Portuguese embraced the mince pie in a way that the French and Spanish never will? Off to meet Team Spain in London later today and then come back here with them. Woo-hoo!

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    • Oh, that’s fantastic, Margaret! Have a lovely time! How long for? ๐Ÿค—๐ŸŽ„โ˜ƒ๏ธ๐Ÿ’• I have to admit, we expected apple in the pastry. It looked like an apple turnover, dusted in sugar. Nice enough to put me off my dessert, anyway ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ’—

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