As ondas da Ericeira

Travel

After a longer break from posting here, I am coming back after a few exciting but intense weeks which didn’t leave much space for reflecting by writing for pleasure. Exactly a month ago I spent a few magical days in the windy capital of the waves (ondas) in Ericeira, making it my first stay in Portugal since over two years.

How did I end up there? Long story short, this year I moved jobs and joined one of the leading no-code companies operating fully remotely, and my starting date coincided nicely with the very first onsite meeting face to face in this beautiful place on Earth. Working remotely does not mean you are disconnected, or get distant with the people you collaborate with. I could experience that first-hand, only one week after I started.

Logistically, it must have been a great effort to organise such a meeting safely and coordinate the arrival of 140+ people from 20+ countries all over the world. It all worked out to my amazement and was also a very first large social gathering I attended. Thankfully, the agenda consisted of different activities: meeting people in various contexts: joint meals and workshops and then enjoying very social activities but and also focused on self-balance and discovery, such as yoga, morning trail runs or surfing.

I joined a historic walk around the town to learn more about it. Having spent one summer not that far away from here, in Obidos, I knew the region quite well, but not Ericeira itself. Home to several world championships in surf due to very special waves conditions, it is mostly known by experienced wave lovers from all over the place. I wasn’t brave enough to give it a try yet, remembering my first attempts during that summer 2009 which resulted in knee injury.

I enjoyed the morning trail run though, encompassing the town from different angles, and passing through the historical sites. A fishing harbour is located next to the Pescadores beach, above which there is a number of picturesque houses, named after the fishermen or their trade. Next to it, there is also a tiny, magical chapel of Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem and a church of São Sebastião serving prayers to the seaman and their return, or as they name it ‘good death’.

Each year, during the local festivity dedicated to the Lady of the Good Trip (or we should say: Return), a procession from the sea is organised, bringing the Virgin on the boats from the ocean, in a specially decorated boats, followed by the walk on the streets covered by a colourful sand mosaics. I can only imaginee the harship of the sea life in the past, now looking at the powerful currents and winds in this area. Probably no one in the past would imagine that the crazy waves would attract ones thousands of adventure seekers.

During its hundeds years of the history, Ericeira became home to many travellers. For instance, traders from far away Macau would influence the architecture of the noblemen houses, bringing a little bit of Chinese culture to Portugal. Hundreds years later, Ericeira became a strategic point of further departure to the Americas for the Jewish people fleeing the horrors of the WWII, thanks to the Portuguese Consul Aristides de Souse Mendes.

The powerful sound of the waves, the harsh history or this place and the direct exposure to the ocean energy recharged me a lot while I kept getting to know so many new people from all around the world, sharing a context of the collaboration in such an unrealistically beautiful place.

Finally, we spent a day in a place I used to call home: Lisbon.I had a chance to revisit familiar and new places during the treasure hunt activity, and ending up the day at the sunset boat trip around the Tejo Bay. Some things changed, some remained the same – isn’t it a truism about all of us?

On the trail run path, I saw a poem, coming from Fernando Pessoa’s O Guardador de Rebanhos (The Keeper of Sheep), and I fell in love with these words immediately. Enjoy it, if you understand, and if you don’t, enjoy the sheer sound of the Portuguese language,.

O meu olhar é nítido como um girassol.
Tenho o costume de andar pelas estradas
Olhando para a direita e para a esquerda,
E de vez em quando olhando para trás…
E o que vejo a cada momento
É aquilo que nunca antes eu tinha visto,
E eu sei dar por isso muito bem…
Sei ter o pasmo essencial
Que tem uma criança se, ao nascer,
Reparasse que nascera deveras…
Sinto-me nascido a cada momento
Para a eterna novidade do Mundo…

Creio no Mundo como num malmequer,
Porque o vejo. Mas não penso nele
Porque pensar é não compreender…
O Mundo não se fez para pensarmos nele
(Pensar é estar doente dos olhos)
Mas para olharmos para ele e estarmos de acordo…

Eu não tenho filosofia: tenho sentidos…
Se falo na Natureza não é porque saiba o que ela é,
Mas porque a amo, e amo-a por isso,
Porque quem ama nunca sabe o que ama
Nem sabe porque ama, nem o que é amar…

Amar é a eterna inocência,
E a única inocência é não pensar…

Nôs Terra

Travel

Lisbon is especially interesting place for those who would like to discover not only Portuguese, but also Afrolusobrazilian culture.

It is a perfect place if you go to different Portuguese-speaking destinations, either as a stopover location or a final destination. To me Lisbon served as both for the past couple of years. After a brief episode of living in Portugal, I always felt certain nostalgia (cliche term of saudade is definitely relevant here) after this place and longing to travel to Portuguese-speaking destinations.

So last Christmas I gave my heart to the archipelago of Cabo Verde and of course, made a stopover in Lisbon. Apart from some very interesting animation show at the Praca de Comercio, there were some other highlights of that short stay, such as joining capoeiristas by the sunset.
This is where a friend of mine, who is very influenced by afrolusobrasilian culture, introduced me to some cultural associations and places where typically descendants of Portuguese-speaking African countries organize their concerts, events or festas.
I was also lucky to try the typical food from Cabo Verde: cachupa, before actually reaching my final destination. Be it Cabo Verde, Sao Tome e Principe, Moçambique, Angola or Guiné-Bissau, or even further in the world: Timor Leste, Goa or Macau – you will find all the places inside Lisbon, like travelling without moving.
Obviously, this has to do a lot with the history, and multiculturalism of Lisbon is an effect of post-colonialism processes. Upon my arrival from Cabo Verde I started digging deeper the topic of the descendants of the African countries living in Lisbon. ‘Nôs Terra’ shows the day-to-day specificities and also struggles of the Caboverdean community in Lisbon. It shows processes familiar to everyone who ever relocated, the in-between state of not belonging anywhere (the country of origin and current location).
I hope though that the unique multiculturality of Lisbon will stay a value itself. Music industry has already spotted Lisbon as one of the most interesting places in the world and so is becoming with art in general. There is no place like Lisbon, colourful, diverse and full of inspiration.

Trojan Horse was a Unicorn and lived in Troia

Travel

What is the connection between a remote peninsula in Alentejo and a well-known digital art conference? Well, both relate to the Trojan Horse. The conference and collective are named after a Trojan Horse (who) was a Unicorn, and its anual venue takes place in this remote, peninsular location of Troia in Portugal.

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I was invited there last week to meet a bunch of concept artist, illustrators and animators from the film, entertainment and gaming world. It took me only two days to interview about 70 people and see their portfolios, some of them presenting pretty interesting (or at least: quirky) stuff.

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The place itself is also specific, to put it this way. Three years ago there was nothing more than a fishermen village on this enchanting peninsula South of Lisboa Metropolitan and Setubal anyway, surrounded by the Sado river estuary and Atlantic Ocean. Then, the luxury resort was built and although architectonically it’s not that much of a disaster, it has a strange feeling.

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This is what happens often in places that offer great climate and nature sights all year round: it attracts greedy real estate investors. Hopefully Troia was not entirely covered in concrete and glass, and the National Park of Sado River Estuary was preserved carefully.

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Being a complete sucker for Portuguese landscape, cuisine, language and what-not, I enjoyed my stay in the luxury village of Troia. Thanks to some tiny cafés and restaurants that remained there, as well as great companion of those who participated in the Trojan conference.

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