Thursday, 6 July 2017

Lisbon in July

Warm and windy. Wonderful! So much to see and do.
We find the Portuguese people we meet extremely friendly and mostly speaking excellent English and eager to help us benighted travellers whose Portuguese comprehension remains slightly minimal!!

We are in a delightful marina, small and quiet, in the Parque do Nacoes. Splendidly located, there is a waterfront walk all through the Parque and nearby is one of the best Aquariums we have ever visited (a cut about Dubai and Valencia and Monterey!).
We make frequnst expeditions into the centre of Lisbon, visiting monuments and wandering up the black-and-white paved streets of the Alfama district (topped by the Castle of Saint George, Castelo Sao Jorge).
I need to devote an entire section to the fado music and museum; and another to the food...

Here some short poems to whet the appetite:

Lisbon heat
In the still heat of the southern afternoon
there remains nothing to be said 
Too hot to argue or pronounce
and certainly to sing.
But the wind chivvies, stirs up
the dry seeds sheltering in unseen corners
eddying them into life
and lifts the dry leaves from
their lodging places in gutters and
cracks of pavements...
Let the music begin

Fado songs 

I understood but could not catch the words
to hold them in my memory.
I watched the faces of the singers:
their eyes closed to hold inside the memories
of pain, of grief, of jealousy, of rage...
The translations into English
appeared on the screen below:
"I sing of life
and all its mysteries"

Vinho Branco

In the shade, on a hot afternoon
A glass jug and three beakers
The wine a palest gold
and cold, moisture gathers on the jug's outside
We drink...
The joy of coolness quenching a hot day

(Written on 2-7- 2017)

Our plan is to stay here several weeks on the boat in the marina, visiting Lisbon every other day. We have also booked a couple of nights in Sintra next week.
I record the sights on my smartphone and manage to transfer the pix onto this laptop (not always!) which makes life easier.
Not yet a mistress of the intangible ether, but progressing...

So much to tell, so many thoughts during the hours of waking, and of course there are also the bright dreams!!
Feeling good in this corner of the world.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The return of the words...

After all, some letter could always be retrieved ... but now at last, back in Amsterdam, and after a visit to the Apple shop, resplendent with a new keyboard, I can once more communicate with more than grunts and stutters.
But first the business matters, banking and suchlike... afterwards the pleasantries.

Lovely to be back, spring in full blossom, tulip fields vaunting many-coloured, and even if cold winds are blowing, the skies radiantly blue and white clouds scudding.

Portugal was fascinating, especially coming to grips with the language... And the Algarve and Alentejo are home to some of the most stunning uncorrupted (!) countryside I have ever seen.
Took many wonderful photographs.

Now for some tidying up.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Where have all the letters gone ...?

I frequently wonder this as I start to type on my beloved laptop and behold ... where I type a letter in the top row only a silence appears...
So I'm going to take up writing in a notebook, until better times (i.e. a Mac Apple shop. like in Amsterdam!)
This explains the blank pages; sorry friends.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Nada ...

Which is Pgs f "nhng" and an amp  xplan ha h p ln f m kebad s n spndng ... s n ns da fnds
Here the letters are beginning to return ... how we need our entire alphabet in order to communicate more than mere incoherent grunts!
Nada by the way, means "nothing" in Portuguese.
But now I must stop since we are off to a fado sing-song ... so ciao for now...
Let's hope the keyboard stays happy for tomorrow...

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

New language, new culture

The evening after my return to the boat, we found that the Cultural Centre in Lagos was holding a dance performance with music by the great Brazilian composer, Villa-Lobos. Lovely, we have definitely chosen the right place to spend the winter months... We joined the small audience in the theatre and waited expectantly. In the programme for the performance I found a delightful quote by Paul Binnerts, theatre director and drama teacher, working in Amsterdam and New York:
The intimate and delicate performance was like a dialogue between the dancer and the musician /guitar player, as if they were talking with each other about secrets only they knew about. But we understood them anyway.
The dancer was Simone Marcal (the "c" pronounced as "s") and the guitarist Josue Nunes. The choreography and stageing was by Tela Leao. I found it enthralling. The solo dancer took us through the centuries of Brazilian dance, changing costume on the stage, never losing our attention, occasionally calling out some words in Portuguese, holding a mimed dialogue with Josue the guitarist, who sat at the side of the stage performing with virtuosic skill, while Simone made breathtaking leaps, somersaults and thoughtful glissades, from time to time approaching the very edge of the stage and communicating with us the audience using her most expressive face!
Here a quote about the final section:
Etude no. 11 in E minor
This etude has a melodic line that sounds like the ritual dances of the Brazilian Indians during the Quarup ceremony honouring the dead. With this music we evoke and pay tribute to our own dead. The choreography ends with a reference to the first steps of The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky, choreographed by Nijinsky, which opened in 1913, the same year that Villa-Lobos's compositions were published.
I found that neatly pleasing. I notice there will be another performance on 4 March quite near Lagos and am wondering if we could attend it...
The dancing reminded me a little of my former tenant, the dancer Eilit Marom, now teaching in Haifa, I believe; she developed her special style of movement, combining lithe gymnastic-like use of the body, built upon what is clearly a structure of classical ballet steps. A joy to watch.
Having spent several years (pre-teens) enthralled by ballet and a devotee of the English magazine Dance and Dancers, I still find it entrancing to watch dance that has developed out of classical ballet, adding other less rigid movement and sometimes voice, yet retaining the discipline of the plies and the petits-battements... (sorry about the missing accents...).

So here we are in a quiet corner of the Algarve, the pounding sea across the street, watching and listening to a performance that transported us to the far forests of Brazil, another culture and a new language of rhythm and movement .
Each morning as light gleams across the water I look out of my cabin porthole into the openness outside and if I could, I'd do a grand-jete (yes, accents missing!) off the boat, onto the bouncing pontoon and on and on...
It is a long time since I've done that!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Back on the boat (in Lagos marina)

We arrived here last September. Delighted with our decision to overwinter in the Algarve: the countryside is more beautiful than I had realized. (This is where I should fly over a few pix, showing the rolling vine slopes, the rugged rocky cliffs, the ancient hilltop cities -- some dating back to pre-Roman times, and the endless fields filled with olive trees or covered with the cork oaks for which Portugal is famous).
But first words, then pix! As soon as we crossed the river Guadiana that forms the boundary between Spain and Portugal, running south into the Atlantic (west of Gibraltar), we noticed the difference.
Well, of course, the language: we really thought we were hearing Russian until our ears grew acclimatized! I am used to languages where much is swallowed (think of English!) and where the final syllable is dropped. But Portuguese really excels.  I hastily looked up a Centro de Linguas within walking distance of our boat ,and enrolled for ten private lessons, which cost two (people) for the price of one! So David came along too. We had an excellent teacher who soon picked up our love for words, though she couldn't always answer our questions. But her pronunciation was beautiful and still, several months later, in my head I hear her clear diction: moeite bom!
Just before we left in December I enrolled for a follow-up course, more intensive, 15 lessons of two hours ... looking forward to this: starting on Monday.
The weather now is a joy... clear skies and sunshine, occasionally a soft wind, rocking the boat gently, the ropes creaking as they pull. Sounds that rustle through the background and play through my dreams.
How quickly one adjusts to climate change and cramped space: I think I have far too many clothes and shoes on this boat, but of course with somewhat variable weather conditions one does need to be prepared. As soon as I feel my elbows are becoming squashed, I hop off onto the wobbly pontoon and plod cormorant-like to where the ground is steady!
I will also try to fly over a pic of the cormorants, our determined neighbours, who dry their shining wings at the end of our pontoon, diving from time to time into the grey waters, and returning with a fat fish.
I calculate we spent about three months here last year, though with visits to Lisboa and the Alentejo province for olive harvesting. (More pix available!) The plan now is a couple of months in Portugal, maybe a week in Seville, and then back to Amsterdam in April. By which time I aim to be dreaming in Portuguese. At present the dreams are in other languages: in French, Italian and Spanish. English and Dutch are always there, day and night:
fragments of poems, dialogues, songs... The pic is of David and me in trekking gear: I just love the expression on David's face... I suspect he was feeling sleepy!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

More thoughts from Borneo...

Here is an illegal fire in the jungle: we don't know who lit it, or why. Our guide regarded it sternly and remarked sadly how many people (especially those from cities) do not know how to respect Nature. He had grown up in Temburong and learnt about the jungle from his father. He knew an astonishing amount about the plants, the trees, the ways of the water, and the geology of the area.

The second picture is one I took as we returned down the river Temburong, back to Bandar Seri Begawan. As we zoomed onward the sky darkened and the clouds burst, pouring down a fierce deluge, accompanied by rumbles of thunder. Terrific. I managed to make a video of part of this. Might even manage to transport that from my photo collection to FB. Life really is a question of continual learning!
Writing now in Amsterdam where spring is appearing after a weekend of wondrous snow (crunching through whiteness, snowballs and sledges for the kiddies, even a snowman with a carrot for a nose). I did manage to fly the snowman pic onto my FB for those who are interested! Still need to practise some photo-flying techniques in order to lighten my pages of pulsating prose ... (ah how I love a little alliteration).
Now back to packing because in a couple of days I'm off to Portugal to join David on the boat. Looking forward to this, and the course I've enrolled myself on, fifteen lessons of Portuguese, intermediate level, at the end of which I shall/should be able to say a little more than chamo-me Wendie (and guess what that means...). Added to which are the beauties of the Algarve countryside and coast, Moeite bom... (and not sure I've spelled that correctly, oh oh!)