Saturday, October 19, 2019
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Freixo do Meio: Montado is more

Bare summer plains, as far as the eye can see. No water, no shade. Only a very occasional tree. Otherwise: emptiness. Tourist agencies attempt to make the Alentejo appealing to visitors with this very clear scenic icon. But it is hard to live and work in such a sparse landscape. Dilapidated farms in the whole district testify to a massive demise in farming. Perhaps nature in the Alentejo dreams a different dream. A dream of dispersed, multi-layer afforestation, of streams, ponds and a diversity of plants and animals, of abundance and fertility. The Greek philosopher Strabo said: “A squirrel could …

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Salt, a treasure rediscovered

Since ancient times, salt has played a key role in the lives of human beings. Used primarily as a means of preserving foodstuffs, it acquired vital importance during the Roman Empire, and is the derivation of the word “salary”. This was because it was common practice in Rome for employees of the Empire, such as legionaries, to receive their wages (or salaries) in salt, as payment for their services. The areas where salt was extracted became so important strategically that some of them were walled and settlements were created to defend this asset. The oldest known record of Portuguese salt …

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The small successes are what matters

What is presumed to have been the last Portuguese lynx was seen at the beginning of the 1990s in the Monchique uplands. It was probably shot by hunters. But the species had already been driven to the verge of extinction. The population of wild rabbits, on which the lynx fed almost exclusively, shrank owing to a viral epidemic and to hunting. The lynx gradually starved. The greatest enemy of the Iberian lynx, however, continues to be human beings and their favourite toy, the car. Against this backdrop, we have become more modest and celebrate the anniversary with humility. Exactly ten …

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o caçador dos chamínés

The Chimney Hunter

A nicely decorated chimney has become a kind of Algarve trademark. It is a form of expression through which the people of the Algarve capture the working techniques of our forebears. The different appearances given to the chimneys, the different shapes, colours and styles, ensure that Algarve people are seen to be both tasteful and refined. The more distinctive and ostentatious the chimneys, the better. Chimneys in the shape of balloons and cones, with a grille or decorated with a series of tiles, and in a wide range of colours, attract the attention of onlookers. This sight on the rooftops …

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For sale

Loulé. There are six of us inflicting this on ourselves and squeezing into the lift cage. A bell rings and slowly, at one metre per second, we float down into the depths of the earth. We’re all wearing blue plastic helmets. They’re equipped with torches that are fastened to a cable with the belt around your waist. During the journey underground, I think about what could have motivated people more than 50 years ago, to drill a 260-metre-deep hole in the earth? Because what we are doing is nothing other than following a widened, enlarged borehole into the deep. There’s …

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The Minister

It’s not every day that you meet the Minister, if you don’t live in the capital yourself, and even if you do, the Minister himself doesn’t spend every day in the capital. He often travels around the country, sometimes even abroad. Around midday he was expected at a lunch with the businesspeople of the Portuguese and Foreign Chambers of Industry and Commerce. You paid fifty euros for admission, plus VAT, and then were happy to wait for the Minister. Sometimes you wait your whole life for something, often you don’t know why, almost always without an obvious reason. Waiting is …

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Xávega net.

Fishing from the land. Six o’clock in the morning. We parked at the isolated spot where the team were starting to arrive, in the area of Meia-Praia in Lagos. We crossed the railway line and the dunes, heading resolutely towards the boat – known locally as a ‘calão’ – whose location we could guess, but which we couldn’t see. Once again, we were going to watch people fishing using the ancient ‘xávega’ net, similar to a beach seine. Just an outboard motor and lighter nets gave the process a modern touch. At six thirty and with the first light of …

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Transition in Portalegre

Everything began in 2011 with a guerrilla gardening campaign, Luís Bello Moraes (41), founder of Portalegre in Transition, told ECO123 on the patio of the FICAR cultural centre. They sowed thousands of sunflower seeds in all of the public gardens and parks of the city. And just as soon as they began to get growing, the mentors behind the initiatives met up with residents and invited them to plant vegetables in between the plants. In a shopping centre, the Transition group has its “Den” that serves as the surroundings for both tranquillity and relaxation and where they discuss and decide …

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Transition in Coimbra

Annelieke van der Swijs (48), Sara Carvalho (40) and Sandra Rocha (26) work alongside over 30 other members of the Coimbra Transition group. They deal both with social needs and the ecological and economic problems existing in this city of 145,000 inhabitants and temporary home to over 30,000 students. Everything started in 2009 with the organic garden in the Coimbra Botanical Garden and the “Little Botanical Market” providing spices and aromatic herbs. In 2013, the association was founded to a large extent because the Municipal Council and other local entities were only willing to take the Transition group seriously when …

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Above the clouds, always towards the sun

Solar Impulse, the solar-powered round-the-world flight. Flying was always one of humankind’s dreams, in order to be able to observe the world where we live like a bird. But the beginnings were difficult, when the Wright brothers took to the air in their first gliders and later motor-powered aeroplanes at the start of the 20th century. Building on that, in the last 100 years, air travel has become one of the biggest commercial sectors with the highest CO2 emissions. Today, we are possibly witnessing a new revolution in air travel – without CO2. SolarImpulse 1 SolarImpulse is a Swiss company …

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