That’s pretty tropical.

27th November 2020

Ilha Culatra, Portugal – Portimão, Portugal via Albufeira, Portugal

There are good and bad ways to decide governmental policy. It’s possible for an autocrat to impose his will onto his people and simply decide at a whim what everyone will do. On the other hand, the masses can collectively let their will be known to the elected few and hope their wishes will be executed. Neither is right and both have their flaws. As we have sailed from Culatra our movements have not been dictated by us, but have been dictated by ‘the will of the people’.

Before the ‘will of the people’ was forced upon us the community in Culatra welcomed us with open arms. In the days before Fiona had used her best Portuguese to not only ‘chat’ in the local shop, but also reserve some bread. We lined up half expecting a yummy fluffy loaf and half expecting some bizarre local produce like jellied fermented clams. Fiona was recognised like a friend, soft fluffy bread was produced and Fiona’s fluency in Portuguese was proved beyond doubt.

The beach was also calling and as we wandered on it’s beautiful deserted white sand we realised that although no men were present the sign of man was everywhere. The high winds and high waters had washed in the discarded remains of the first world. We resolved to do our little bit by removing anything that hadn’t started life in the sea. In no time we had a collection of, plastic bottles, lengths of rope, fishing gear and even small children’s toys. Every little bit helps and we hoped this helped this amazing little island.

Saying goodbye to Culatra our movements were very much being controlled by the ‘will of the people’. Due we Brexit we were in the process of gaining Portuguese residency and we’d heard through the sailing grapevine that the interpretation the Albufeira Câmara have put onto the withdrawal agreement made the whole process ’a doddle’.

The contrast between Culatra and Albufeira was stark in the extreme. Where in Culatra we found a thriving community in Albufeira we found deserted half-finished complexes, gentle local socialising had been replaced by the ravages of Covid-19 on the tourist industry and the beauty of nature had been replaced by concrete walls and neon lights. Albufeira still had its own charms.

Wandering the empty streets of this resort town the bars continued to play their tunes and musicians tried to tempt us with their soothing lyrics. The great dancing tunes wafting through the air, an empty square and a moon filled sky spelt out one thing to us – Jiving.

In the middle of an historic square, we pulled off the moves we’d learnt for so many years totally absorbed in the moment. Iain fulfilled his primary role by making Fiona look good as she was spun, flicked, dipped and dropped, in true modern jive fashion. As the tunes reached a crescendo and finally stopped, we were suddenly aware that the empty square wasn’t quite so empty. We had been the entertainment for all those supping beers in the surrounding bars and seemed to have upstaged the musicians with our impromptu antics.

Come morning we lined up outside the town hall, without an appointment but with our documents in hand and they exhibited ruthless efficiency. We had our temperatures taken and were ushered into the inner sanctum, the lovely lady thumbed through our hard-won British passports, then consulted the computer for our special identification number (NIF), but the real clincher was the proof of address. The proof of address wasn’t just some paltry property deed or a legalised tenancy agreement, it was serious. It was a receipt for a whole night of Ruffian being tied up in a marina! We liked their interpretation of ‘resident’.

Out of the printer popped paper with our names on, the crest of Portugal and the 12 stars of the European Unio. The feeling of freedom and being part of the European community was overwhelming, as was the relief that we’d be official in Portugal next year after the protracted Brexit process concludes.

Having bent our movements to the ‘will of the people’ our next moves are being driven by much bigger forces; the galactic bodies, of the earth, the sun and Covid-19. In the weeks to come, as Portugal gets colder, Ruffian is not going to be warmed by the southern sun, but by the ability to flick a swich, turn on the heating and nestle in her winter marina home.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

3 thoughts on “Residents

  1. Hello lovelies. Great to see you looking so happy and healthy (and not on the point of being deported). Enjoy the winter sunshine and happy Christmas 🎄

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