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Epilogue – In the South: Journeying on foot

One early morning on my Algarve trail I keep thinking about a dream, a story I‘d still like to tell here. The dream is about a group of young people who in their village along the trail start planting a small tree, then a second, a third… They agree that every day they will plant another tree together along the trail’s edge, so that those still young trees may, one fine day day in the future, when these trees have grown to be tall and strong, provide shade and offer up free fruit to their children and their children’s children. …

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A New Home in Salir

It’s a small house with two bedrooms in a quiet valley. Casa da Avó, which was once a ruin, comes together with a small permaculture area, the sheep Debbie, two chickens, and a sense of a “green” mission undertaken  by Margarida Almeida and João Spencer, a couple who found their “paradise” here in 1996.   Margarida (and João) used to live in Lisbon. How did you find this place, in Salir, here in the midst of nature? João was born in Mozambique, I was born in Brazil. My father was a traveling salesman, who was in partnership with an Italian …

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“What I really like is versatility…”

Versatility is one of his favourite words, almost as if he believes that, once we have come into the world, we are ready for anything, for whatever the Universe wants to put in-front of us. That is why, from writing for a newspaper, where he spent nine years as a translator, Igor Duarte has moved into the hotel business and spent five years at the reception desk of a hotel. Today he dedicates body and soul to a new challenge: the kitchen of the A Villa restaurant in Salir. In this restaurant run by Mónica Matias, his sister-in-law, it is …

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In the South: Journeying on foot
DAY 1 – Thirst – an unexpectedly great one

DAY 1 – Thirst – an unexpectedly great one

On a Sunday in October in this warm and dry year, at the tail end of a summer that shows no signs of wanting to end, I pull the door shut behind me, lock it, shoulder my backpack and start walking east, with my dog for company. I‘ve taken a week‘s time out for myself: a week with no computers, a life without Internet. In reality I want to take the track starting right behind my house, a trail leading into nature or, well, what is left of it after the great forest fire of 2018. After a few kilometres …

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Nº 109 – Reality

Saturday 9th October 2021. Who actually determines our future? Children pass through different stages in their lives where the future becomes an everyday reality: it becomes their normality. But what becomes of our dreams? Who actually gets to realise their dreams and how do they go about this? We come into this world and are taken to a nursery, then we are put into school, maybe go to university too, and of course we are issued with report cards, pass exams, do our best to ride the learning curves that only adolescents are subjected to. What are they really learning, …

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Nº 105 – Minimising the Risk of Forest Fires.
An essay by Uwe Heitkamp

Saturday 18th September 2021. By now every serious democratic candidate has been given the chance to air their views on the forest fires in a 30-minute unscripted interview. Their replies to the question of what they are intending to do to break the cycle of forest fires in Monchique, or to stop them altogether, makes it look as if they didn’t really have a solution in mind. José Chaparro, Bruno Estremores, João Duarte and Paulo Alves are the four candidates who all want to become mayor, and all of them still have a real chance to make this happen. Unless …

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Nº 103 –
First part – Rural exodus
Second part – Interview with Paulo Alves PS

Saturday 4th September 2021 Modern life has caught up with Monchique too, a little while ago already actually. However, the old traditional life remains alive on the Monchique mountains, at an altitude of 500 metres above sea level. The novelties came creeping up the hills and mountains over the past decades, on their way from Portimão and Lisbon, but also with tourism from abroad. According to the tourism authority, the mountain summit of Foía, with an elevation of 902 metres, is the second-most visited spot in the Algarve. The best example for Modern Life is fashion and its sometimes erratic …

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Nº 102 –
First part – Men Only, is it?
Second part – Interview with João Duarte CPM

Saturday the 28th of August 2021 Not a single woman candidate in sight. Really, is it only men on these election posters? Over half of humanity isn’t standing in this election. This is just not on. I am observing the local elections with the eyes of a journalist, a foreigner from a EU country, not in Afghanistan, no, in Portugal. And what is being offered to me, dear Politics, in Monchique and many other communities across the country, is not the representative choice of female candidates I’d like to see. On top of that we have that guy from our …

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Nº 101 –
First part – We’re at war again …
Second part – Interview with Bruno Estremores PSD

Saturday 21st August 2021 when what we urgently need is peace. Last Sunday there was a fire not even a kilometre away from our Botanical Garden project in Caldas de Monchique. Someone had deliberately or negligently thrown something inflammable out of a car window. A cigarette, a glass bottle? Who knows? The helicopters are flying attacks on the fire just like in a real war. They are throwing water-filled bombs onto the flames, flying one sortie after the other. It’s like a film about Vietnam. They need two hours, aided by ground troops, to win the battle with the enemy. …

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Nº 100 –
First Part – A tree needs time to grow.
2nd Part – Interview with José Chaparro CDS-PP with Podcast

Saturday 14th August 2021 We should, all of us, try and bring ecology and economy together in a practical way, make peace. As awful as forest fires are, on a second glance, once the shock and trauma subside, they do provide a huge chance. Planting slow-growing mixed forests from scratch takes time, yet is eminently important. Many of the forests that fell victim to the heat and forest fires of the past few years had their roots in an era where the forest only served as a quick self-service for business. This is starting to change as we speak, whether …

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