A Look at the Portuguese World


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The islanders

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It is a journey through time by the fishing district of Câmara de Lobos.

Life in a small islet was like being on an island within the island. We were surrounded by a sea of people that left no room for dream or poetry. Everyday life was made of harsh words, screams, cries and laughter and where we tried unsuccessfully to hide a little our own wretchedness of the remaining 4,999 souls who lived in such a small space that was not just of one, was of all. The houses tacked on each other leave no room for privacy, we could heard even the more shy of sighs, the neighing of the parched doors by salt announced the appeal of the salty sea that led men every day looking for bread to fill mouths. Life here had always a bittersweet taste, the generous sea gave plenty, but not infrequently took all too many fishermen lie in unmarked graves in the deep blue water and not under a blessed green mantle on the ground, leaving behind hordes of hungry children. Rum also claimed lives some said that the white evil keep away hunger, others the cold and still others justified in claiming that helped to forget the curse of being born miserable, all served to excuse the inexcusable, spend the meager savings on something it was not essential.

Women charged by pain immediate filled the void with an uninterrrupted and repetitive daily hustle that printed the idea of apparent normality. The fight for survival started so early in the entrance of the morning, some departed in search of the clothes of the rich to wash and dry in the pebble stone beach, while the smaller children play on the shore bay, others sold the fish conquered the sea at the market, the remaining luckiest were good in sewing, or embroidering to make some essential spare change for themselves and the community, because it was for one, was for all too, no one was alone, or abandoned, we shared-all, where ate some, ate many more.

The only day of rest even for the fishermen was Sunday, in that day flowed through the narrow alleyways of the islet bodies covered in black suits and flying color dappled dresses in soft passes because most came barefoot, each holding right next to them the shoes itself , so it won't get spoil in the descent, others shared the pair before entering the church. The days of greater overall excitement was when there was ball match on existing single radio of that almost black rock, one of the few small dwellings housed had the object of worship that was strategically placed in the window so that everyone could hear, small tufts of people crowded everywhere silently to listen as the radio announce the danger of bids that would determine the fate of the game. The goals were celebrated with great hubbub, of course, depending on the club and after spenting almost hour and ninety minutes of frantic football discurse, people stay a bit longer to hear the great lady, Amalia.

Happiness also had its place in the islet, the marriageable young women as they had little or nothing for a dowry and even less money for the wedding celebration took advantage of the early birth masses to marry in a reputed color dress themselves made, or sent to be made in the dressmaker, so they celebrated not only the arrival of boy Jesus, but also the life of a young couple to the world until death thu as apart. The children were soon welcomed, because the priest used to say at Mass "grow and reproduce" and in fact, there was no much more to entertain, so people were born in the islet. The hard, painful life and many mouths to feed launched many men, like thousands of other Madeiran, for emigration in search of a better life and a route overseas to escape war. The less fortunate young men were mobilized for the colonial war and the island within the island once again the radio played a crucial role, religiously mothers, grandmothers, aunts, wives and daughters, gathered to hear the list of prisoners or siege, as they said, in a longing contained shrouded in tears for a name and their respective military graduation, when nothing happened it was nor good or bad, it was just a sign that prayers had been heard. The revolution of April in the distant capital also arrive to Câmara de Lobos, through the same radio waves, creating a huge commotion which led to tempers exalted and the local police station was raided, some shots were heard and there was some panic, but nothing more serious to report and that's how freedom came to these shores, then basically life went on in the island without major surprises.

The arrival of the EEC changed everything in the rock. The president of the regional government, Alberto Joao Jardim, decided to relocate families to a new social housing built for the purpose, was the new Madeira as they called it and the fishermen district was demolished on 22nd of June of 2004. Currently, at the top there is a garden where you can have a rein look and has a breathtaking landscape, which includes the Community Development Association of Câmara de Lobos, according to the coordinator, Dina Rodriguês, the activities of this institution to the level particularly of young people seek to "have some workshops to work with, on Fridays and Saturdays, we also have live talent that is a project that we have been perfecting through video and photography workshop, because the idea is to develop a short film. During holiday periods and school disruption they also enjoy the facilities with a ping pong table, TV, video and games. However, it is very difficult to conquer this audience, is very unstable, hard to work, but has huge potential. Teenagers have more freedom, but do not know what they want to do with it and it is difficult to motivate them, the idea is to create an attractive place for them. Seniors, moreover, enjoy the voice group, they have trips and dance club is a normal occupational center. What we tried to implement is an intergenerational aspect, mix everybody and we have achieved positive results, although in the beginning generated some confusion. Over time there were users who were captivated with this type of social intervention, others less so, as in everything, we won and lost, is a work for the long term. " And still retains 60 homes in their gray hollows, but what was there recorded was my memory and many who were born and lived there and who returned to a graceful and touristic Câmara de Lobos.

The report is based on several testimonies of former residents of the islet, Maria Ferreira, Odete Rodrigues and Innocence Pestana whom I thank greatly and were somewhat fictional, through the voice of a single narrator.

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