Published: April 19th 2011March 25th 2011
We finally reached my favorite city in the world.But then, I'm biased... I was born here.
The train stations in Portugal are all very interesting. The station we arrived at in Lisboa is called Orient, a newer train station built for Expo 98. It's all glass, metal and cement , but the design is wonderful. It's a very open-space concept that from afar looks like palm trees; really beautiful. The only time we were a bit apprehensive was by the elevator. The glass floor in front of the elevator had some deep cracks in it so we all stood back until the elevator came and then quickly jumped in when the doors opened. Down we went with a sigh of relief to the taxi queue.
For me this was the best part of our trip. I have returned to Camarat,the only place I can call my childhood home.
When I was a kid I can't remember not being without my grandmother and my Tia (aunte) Fernanda. When I was two years old, my father who was in the army in Angola, came home. A short time after, we moved away from Camarat, but my grandmother and I were always on
the move to go back there and the time I spent with her and my aunt is a time I will never forget.
The little room that faces the street is the room that was the sitting room and my bedroom. Even now, seeing it brings back the sounds and smells of the past.
I remember the shepherd and all the sheep that would wake me up, and the fishmonger calling out what was fresh that day. The vegetable man and his wooden wagon pulled by a cow. The baker would come very early in the morning to deliver your nice warm bread to the door. We had beautiful cloth bags that you would hang outside your door with the money and how many buns you needed for the day. I still have one of those bread bags, bright green with bread embroidered on it, a draw string on top to close it. These memories are something I want to pass on because it comes from an time that is long gone, but for me it holds great sentiment.
My cousins Ernan and Jorge and many other little girls my age ( in fact one that was born 1hr after
me) where my playmates.
As girls, we learned how to crochet and make doilies; this was our pass time imitating the adult women that sat in the sun and gossiped about everyone.. including the poor wife that had to put up with her drunken husband from across the street.
If you looked at the pictures on Kevin's blog, you saw him jumping on something in my aunts garden; this was a very old well ( it's amazing he didn't fall through). When I was five years old and playing by that well I stepped on a very big rusty nail that went right through my foot. In those days there where no doctors in the village, but they did have a male nurse and he was just as good ,if not better, than a doctor. Doctors worked in big cities and hospitals, not villages, so your choices where limited. You had someone like a nurse or your local witch, yes witch with all the potions that would cure all.( I am not making this up...)
In times past codfish, sardines and other fish where a staple of Portugese cuisine. Today however, cod and sardines are a treat; like a
Portugese song says "it's such a delicacy that you have to eat it by candlelight". When I was a kid, meat was expensive. Sure you had chickens and if you lived in a country village you also had some pigs and rabbits , but beef and horse meat was for the rich. (Yes, horse meat. Very popular in Europe). For people that eat tripe this is not a big deal.
For my aunt chicken and rabbits where available to her.
My uncle was a hunter. Most men were. They kept beautiful hunting dogs in kennels down behind all the houses. My uncle would go hunting every few months. I remember as a little girl getting up one morning to use the washroom and seeing the kitchen floor covered with dead rabbits. And this is why you don't have a chance see real wild life in Portugal, except in hunting reserves. Not wildlife preserves, but hunting preserves, where animals like rabbits and pheasants are bred for hunting enthusiasts.
Rabbit is still a big part of Portugese cuisine. Being the masochist that I am, I took the kids to the butcher to look at the them whole: with no fur and bulging
eyes; the look on their faces was priceless.
Ok, they may not look that appetizing, but when cooked in a stew they taste just like chicken.
In Camarat there where two gardens, one up the hill and one down the hill.
My favorite was the one up the hill. I have a picture of my grandmother and I in this garden. It was not that big, but it had two big palm trees and flowers and two fountains to come and get drinking water from, because just like today, you can't drink water from the tap. Today there is no fountain or garden. This was sad to see. The garden down the hill is still there and it's still the place where old men sit and talk.
Camarat has changed so much even from when I was there 16 years ago.
The fields of olive groves that where divided with stone walls have been replaced by row housing that was built for the ever -growing influx of Africans. They came from Guinea, Angola, Mozambique. Camarat is now a multicultural suburban area of Lisboa, right beside the airport runway. It's a good thing they don't run flights at night.
definitely stood out... well maybe not Kevin. As you can see from the picture, the EuroKev transformation was complete.
My aunt's congregation has about 100, with a wonderful mixture of people from around the world. The brother that showed us around the hall had lived in Toronto. This Kingdom Hall was very different, because it was once the fire hall, so it had high cellings and that enabled the brothers to add a balcony for extra seating and a soundproof mother's room with a large glass window.
Behind the platform they have the elder's room, the second school and a door that leads out to a beautiful backyard garden with flowers and a large palm tree.
The brothers are very proud of their hall and they should be, because for a congregation that does not have much materially, they own the building and have done the work on their own, with out any debts.
After the meeting we went for lunch to a chorrascaria or BBQ place. Camarat has the best. So, you had your chicken, ribs, sardines,cod and octopus. Can you guess what Kevin had?
With a sad heart we left Camarat and my dear Tia Fernanda, but with
a promise to meet up with her in Lisboa after we go to visit a very interesting park.
There are more photos below