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What forest is this?

Like sap, we rise up through the four layers of a forest. We progress from the bureaucrats in state institutions to experts who are passionate about the forest. Let’s move from the Dantesque vision of the current ‘eucalyptugal’ to the landscape of the lush forest that is to come.   The ground layer It’s called Quinta da Fonteireira, in Belas, and it is a rare green lung in the suburbs along the Sintra railway line. Between the ages of eight and eighteen, I slept more than a hundred nights there, in Vale Escuro. At that time, when I was in …

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Do it yourself and avoid waste

Homemade Shampoo Today we are going to talk about shampoo: a vegan alternative, without chemicals or plastics. I can’t imagine how many plastic shampoo bottles I’ve thrown away over the course of my life. Whether the bottle is 250 ml or 1000 ml, the flood of plastic never seems to end. Special soap for hair washing does exist, but it’s not always easy to find – and goodness knows where it’s been imported from, or rather, how much CO2 it has generated, even without counting my journey to buy it at the shop… plus, the never-ending list of ingredients makes …

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DAY 6
Salir – Cortelha – Barranco do Velho

DAY 6
Salir – Cortelha – Barranco do Velho

Right, the first one hundred kilometres are behind me. It’s turning out to be easier than I’d envisaged; after all, I’m hiking without previous training. The advantage compensating this lack of training is that I know the trail well and that I’m walking slowly, building up my physical form. The entire stretch of the Via Algarviana runs to around 300 kilometres. You have the first, the eastern part, from Alcoutim to Barranco do Velho, the central section from Barranco do Velho to Monchique and the westerly part from Monchique to the southwestern cape. I pack my backpack, take my hiking …

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DAY 5
From Alte to Salir. Moorish Fountains.

DAY 5
From Alte to Salir. Moorish Fountains.

19 km. I’ve now arrived in the heart of the Algarve. To be journeying on foot also means to gain direct contact with the people and their environment. And isn’t that what we journalists need and want to know? What makes the people of this country tick? What are they thinking, and: how are they? In Alte, right at the beginning of the fifth day of my hike I meet an elderly lady collecting a little brushwood at the empty and dried-out Ribeira de Alte, a brook which used to be home to fish and many other wildlife, a biotope …

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DAY 4
From Messines to Alte

DAY 4
From Messines to Alte

  I order my breakfast from next door. The price is 2 euros and forty cents and it’s eight o’clock when I hand over the key at reception and walk across to Senhor Jorge. One hot milky coffee and a cheese roll please. Bom dia. Two minutes later everything is standing on the counter and I take my breakfast outside onto the terrace. Messines has already woken up and I am studying the way ahead on the map. Aiming for the Vale Vinagre I am soon starting my small ascent. First of all out of town and through the underpass …

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DAY 3
From Funcho Reservoir Lake to Messines.

São Bartolomeu de Messines is the town associated with the writer, educator and legal expert João de Deus Ramos, who was born here in 1830 and went on to gain nation-wide fame at the time with his educational programme for children and adults. He studied law in Coimbra and died in 1896 in Lisbon. This is what I read when I reach the Casa do Povo, the House of the People. Carved in stone. I might be wrong but I’m under the impression that Messines wants to be more than just one of seven communities forming part of the former …

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DAY 2
From Silves to Lake Funcho

DAY 2
From Silves to Lake Funcho

Waking up, I turn on the light and find myself in a 45-euro room in a guesthouse that will accept my dog: the landlady is charging five euros extra for the privilege. I don’t receive a reply to my question whether this includes breakfast or not. But bringing pets, she says, is allowed in principle. So I’m using the remote control to consult the comrade on the corner up where the wall and the ceiling of the room meet, to call up the weather forecast. No change in sight. It will remain hot and dry. Fabulous weather for tourists, bad …

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Nº 123 – Ana Pêgo and the unsustainable weight of marine pollution

Saturday 22th January 2022. “People hear the problem, they get scared faced with this problem and do want to change, but end up considering that it’s very hard and they won’t be able to do it.” It’s to counter this way of thinking that marine biologist Ana Pêgo works to raise awareness for ocean protection in communities. At the end of the day, change is within reach for each and any one of us. Step by step, we can all be agents of change. Known for being a woman on a mission, Ana the biologist sees marine waste as a …

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Nº 122 – Emission-free cooking and baking: for free and outdoors

Saturday the 15th of January 2022. It happened in 2016 and in 2018, then again in 2020 and once more now in 2022: every other year Faro hosts a meeting of the International Community of the Friends of Solar Cooking and Baking, by the name of CONSOLFOOD. This time the meeting is taking place between Monday 24 January and Wednesday, 26 January, and this time under the conditions of a global pandemic the event is held online at www.consolfood.org. Many people in developing countries still burn wood, charcoal or even rubbish on open fireplaces for cooking. The reason they do …

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Nº 121 – Empathy

Saturday 8th January 2022. Our dear friend, Bal Krishna, is dead. Bal just made it into the new year, before dying in the evening of the first day of 2022 at Portimao hospital where he’d already had to spend nearly three weeks. We are mourning a great, sensitive human being with a big heart. Whenever I visited him I felt accepted. Generous, modest and humble, he  often reminded me of the great Mahatma Gandhi. He loved to go swimming in the Atlantic sea at crack of dawn. A quiet and calm man, he was a pioneer in lending his calling …

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