Thursday, May 31, 2018

An Evening in Apúlia That Began with Pessoa


My husband and I returned Sunday from a five-day trip to Braga, Portugal. We went for the Braga Romana Festival, which I'll be posting about soon, with pictures.  Here is a little "taster" until then. But today our last evening in Braga is fresh in my mind, because friends we've been privileged to know — Carla Pereira, her husband, Armando Coelho, and their daughter, Beatriz — made it magical.  
         
To begin with, I am a fan of Pessoa, the mysterious Portuguese poet whose poems were never discovered until after his death. He's considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century, and one of Portugal's two greatest poets. The fact that I'm a fan doesn't mean I've read a lot of his work: But I do have two books of his translated poems that I dip into from time to time. And when I do, there is something about his use of words, even translated, that etch the heart and linger on.
   
So the evening we were to go out to dinner, Carla invited us to their flat for snacks first, and gave us this marvelous present: A hand-crafted book of some of his poems. You can see what a marvel the book is: The cover is wood, as it the spine, all lovingly assembled into a masterpiece of workmanship. The poems are in Portuguese, alas, but I will make it my Portuguese language lesson to start translating them one by one — probably for the next 30 years! 😊 She also gave us a bottle of Dona Carla wine, which we are saving for a special occasion. (Maybe when my new book comes out in October)

Those were the first two surprises.

The third surprise was where we went for dinner — a small fishing village about 32 kilometers away from Braga. It's called Apúlia, which is also the name of a town in Italy, and it is thought that perhaps there is a connection, due to Roman-style original folk costumes that may go back to the Roman Empire. The name of the restaurant was A Cabana (The Beach Hut). More about that later, but first we walked along the beach, enjoying the fresh breeze, the susurro of waves, the peacefulness that always comes near the ocean.





             


Carla took the picture of me on the beach looking up at Rajan. The reason I like this picture so much is that a few minutes earlier, a man came along singing loudly and with high spirits. I think he was gypsy because of the melody of his song and the wonderful "warbling" effect that you often hear in gypsy music. He stopped and leaned on the rail above, looking out to sea, with his arms wide open toward the water. Rajan was beside him at that point and gave him a couple of coins, and, in Spanish he spoke at length, thanking Rajan, blessing him, blessing his wife (with a nod to me where I was looking up from the sand), and then he went on his way, singing. I had my camera and would have loved to take a picture, but it would have made him self-conscious. And it would have destroyed the moment. But it's an experience I will always remember. 

Before we got back in the car to go to A Cabana, we posed for two group photos. And then we went on to the restaurant which was another great experience.


The restaurant was one of several in a line, but it was absolutely packed. Obviously a popular place. Wonderful artifacts of the sea and of fishing. Waiters who loved to joke — and who were some of the fastest I'd ever seen! And the food was just delicious. We had grilled salmon, but it came with potatoes and vegetables, and the meal was served with a very tasty table wine in a carafe the water kept refilling. Everyone at every table seemed to be having a wonderful time. (WE certainly were!) 





Finally, it was time to go. But the evening wasn't over! You might call this surprise #4: Armando drove us from beach area to beach area as twilight fell. It was a beautiful night. The sky was that lovely blue that always seems so mystical. The moon wasn't visible from inside the car, but Venus was — a planet, but also known as the evening star and the morning star, and always shining brightly. That's the epitome of Portugal for me: always shining brightly. 

How about you? What is the most magical trip you can remember? What is the most magical evening? Does twilight affect you? Do you love to wander along the beach?

22 comments:

Richard Hughes said...

I was in Lisbon many years ago. I thought Portugal and Spain were two of the most interesting places I visited.

CarlaPereira said...

Congratulations dear friend for this wonderful description! For me, Armando and Beatriz were also magical moments ... Thank you for your friendship and affection!
Abraços e saudades da tua família portuguesa!

Sandra Cox said...

Magical indeed. A wonderful memory to pull out when you need it.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Richard. Yes, there is something about Iberia, I think, especially. Our part of Spain is in Galicia, which, geographically, is a continuation north of Portugal with many similarities in culture and even language, although, like all of the regions of Spain, Galicia speaks Castilian as well as their own language of Galego. But the people are so warm, so open-hearted. It's a lovely culture to immerse yourself in.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

It's a lovely friendship. We count it as a real blessing that we treasure. We look forward to seeing you all again in the fall.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

So wonderfully said, Sandra. Indeed. Thanks for stopping by.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

What an impressive day, evening, and experience. Your wonderful photos of your time at the beach brought back pleasant memories for me, too. Of course, I didn't have supportive friends to share my time with. Simply enchanting post from beginning to end, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, B&E. I always love your comments when you stop by. I'm thinking your pleasant memories must be beach memories. Have a great week-end.

Mirka Breen said...

Although I have a good friend who recently moved to Lisbon, I have yet to visit Portugal. Thank you, again, for taking us along.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Mirka, I think you would like Portugal. In some ways it is similar to Galicia, the region in Spain we go to so often. They have "sister" languages and cultures, and are so warm-hearted and openhearted, we've just been overwhelmed at times with their generosity—in both areas. And if you like Fado, Portugal is the place to hear it! Thanks for stopping by.

Rosi said...

You and Rajan always have such lovely adventures. What a great time!

Anvilcloud said...

Worth reading just for this: "the susurro of waves." A word I didn't know.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hello, Anvil Cloud and thanks for visiting. I love that word. Some teacher used it in a high school class years (and really, really years) ago, as an example of how a descriptive word could sound like what it describes, and I never forgot that. Have a great day, and do stop by again.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi. Yes, I do so appreciate these Spain and Portugal adventures especially. When we can no longer travel, I will probably revisit the memories and pictures often. I just love Iberia!

Denise Covey said...

I'm glad I came by today Elizabeth. Glad you're in Portugal. I have fond memories of my short visit there. I also read recently The Night Train to Lisbon. Adored it. Very Portuguese. Too many magical moments to mention, but walking the streets of Paris with my stories in mind always gives me a buzz. Great research.

Tara Tyler R said...

What a beautiful trip and full of surprises! Thanks for sharing your picturesque journey with us (and happy late birthday to your hub =)
Thanks also for stopping by my place!
Tara Tyler Talks

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Denise. We are back home, now, but full of memories. I read Night Train to Lisbon, too. Very mysterious and so full of atmosphere. I didn't know you are writing stories about Paris. I love Paris, too. Are you there for long?

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tara. Likewise, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you like the pictures.

DMS said...

Well this definitely sounds like a magical trip. Beautiful pictures! The restaurant looks so fun! Thanks for sharing your trip with us. :)
~Jess

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Jess, thanks for your comments. I'm glad you liked the pictures.

Julia Thorley said...

I applaud you for not taking a photo of the staggering singer. When I'm caught betweeen watching something unfold in front of me or faffing about with my camera to record the moment, I always choose the former. Lovely post, as always. :-)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks, Julia. I was glad afterward that I resisted the temptation. Especially since some moments can't really be captured by camera. This particular experience is etched into my heart.