There are lots of ways to tell a story. Here in Portugal the most popular way comes in the form of wall tiles, or azulejos. Huge old panels of the tiles are to be found in many churches and public buildings, some of the finest examples appearing in Lisbon’s Museu Nacional do Azulejo. They beautifully illustrate scenes from the bible, and Portuguese history and lifestyle. By contrast, it’s great to turn the corner in a holiday complex in Cabanas and find a modern equivalent. The scene above portrays peasant life, complete with burro. The Algarve hasn’t yet strayed too far from its roots. You can still find a donkey in the nearby fields, and simple homesteads, where people grow most of what they need and sell, or give, any surplus to their neighbours.
Loulé is one of my favourite places for a mooch. A great place for stories and links to the past. The central market is a beautiful building, reminiscent of tales of Arabian nights, and resplendent with jewel bright treats. Within its walls are reminders of traders from the past: the knife grinder, sharpening scissors with a steady pump of his foot, while the market stalls in the surrounding streets are not vastly different than they have been for a hundred years or more. On Saturday mornings the place comes to life, the stalls stacked high with fresh produce- vibrant greens and carrots, ruby red tomatos and peppers, juicy olives, honey from the hills, aromatic cheese and spicy sausage- all disappear, quite rapidly, into bags and baskets. Coffee shops abound in the neighbouring streets, and news and gossip is exchanged as ever it was. But by early afternoon the stalls are packed away and the streets swept. Inside the market the floors are hosed and surfaces gleam, though the smell of fish may linger. And peace descends, till Monday.
Browsing the old blog for details of the Tile Museum, I came upon this link, which illustrates Loulé rather well. It includes azulejos in Nossa Senhora de Conceição, but beware- it’s rather chocolate heavy!
Another week goes by, and still no resolution in sight. What can we do to bring this misery to an end?