Never in my life I will forget my time in Cacela Velha. This place is so special, so full of beauty and serenity and the light is always different. I love going up on my roof terrace and look at the sleeping village at night, with here and there a soft street light on. Or going down, early in the morning, via the long stairs to the Laguna, where the fisher man are checking their nets for the molluscs or an individual is trying to find his or her evening meal. At the end of the day you can catch the most beautiful sunsets, if you are patient enough to sit for a while on the wall by the church, which overlooks the Laguna.
My little house on the corner is situated right in the alley to the graveyard and from my bed I hear the small and noisy motor cycle of the supervisor of the cemetery in the morning. I spent one day just talking with some people in Cacela Velha and they all understand my Spanish and I understand most of their Portuguese, as many words are similar or have something in common.
Last week it was busy in Cacela; there was one funeral after the other. That meant that I didn’t get much rest in my house, as the coffins are brought into the cemetery on a very noisy “cart”, with even noisier people behind it. This is the perfect moment to exchange the latest gossip! Now I knew already that everybody wants to be buried here (and have their wedding here), but what happened that suddenly everybody dropped dead? One day I did my evening round and I saw two pictures of dead people on the church door and also a wake took place in a separate room of the church but with the doors all open, so I could see the people sitting around the coffin. I knew that it would be a late and noisy night and an early and noisy morning! Normally the village is car free, but when there is a wake or a funeral, the cars are coming and going until late in the evening.
The week after I went for a “stroll” over the cemetery and met the supervisor; a very nice man, whose perfume was the alcohol in his morning coffee………..The cemetery was a mess…..fresh soil dug up, stones left and right still waiting to be placed, flower wreaths in empty holes in the wall, coffins shuffled in the wall, but without a stone in front etc. I asked him if it had been a busy week for him? He admitted that there were too many funerals to handle for a guy alone and that he worked 7 days a week already! I asked him if there are possibilities for cremation in Portugal and he told me there are, but it is only done outside the Province of the Algarve and then later they can bring the ashes to Cacela Velha. Of course I asked him why there were so many funerals this week and he shrugged his shoulders while saying ” It was cold”……..Stupid me…….Cold it was this week, very cold for the older Portuguese people, who often don’t have heating in their house, not even a fire place!
IBN Darraj Al_Qastalli, Poeta natural de Cacela Velha (958-1030)
Say to spring: Spread out your mantle of clouds and fill the sails with wind over the place.
Don’t stay away. o Spring, as my tears are flowing after you in long waves.
Mix the perfume of my welcome with the moisture of your cloud and sprinkle it on all those whom I love…….
This famous Muslim Poet, born in Portugal, lived for a while in Cacela Velha. Later he moved to Spain. Everywhere you see signs with his name.
On one of my late afternoon visits to Fabrica to see the sunset and enjoy my glass (well, plastic cup) of red wine, I meet some locals and get to talk with them. Most are fisherman, from whom I learned a lot about their daily life, which is not easy…..hard work for a few euro’s. They get 15 euro’s for a bucket full of clams, which took them a few hours to find! I also meet an architect, who brought his Portuguese water dog. This is the first time that I see a real water dog. It is like a huge poodle, but with a total different head and legs. Lots of “Beattle” hair and therefor you barely can see his/her eyes. The architect tells me that the hair protects the dog from the UV rays. The legs have membranes in between the toes. therefor they are such good swimmers. The body is half covered with thick fur, so they are protected for the cold, but they also can swim fast, as the other half is shaved. They can catch the fish, which the fisherman loose out of their fishing nets. Next time I have to bring my camera, to take a picture of this interesting dog. His “boss” also has the black curly hair and of course I have to make a remark about that! So when I say ” Usted se parece como el perro o el perro se parece como Usted” (“you look like your dog or your dog looks like you”), the whole crowd starts laughing………….I am thankful he can appreciate the joke; after all, I am the stranger here!