Local Heart, Global Soul

December 23, 2010

Going Potty, being Silly and International Sign Language starts with a smile.

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following up on yesterdays post, where I mislaid and then found a camera chip and wanted to tell you about two more sellers I met in the medieval market in Vila Nova de Cerveira.

Yesterdays post was about a man who faces his impairment head on and works hard despite his disability and he is truly an inspiration to me.

Today’s post was about the genuine friendliness and fun of people despite language barriers.

This gentleman sells pottery items that he has made, I saw his stall and I love pots so went over to have a look. He asked me some questions as he saw my interest and we quickly worked out that my few words of Portuguese and his few words of English were not nearly enough for a conversation.

That didn’t deter us, he clearly wanted to know if I was interested in buying something.  In spite of feeling silly,  I left inhibition behind and with a smile and outstretched arms mimicked an aeoplane  (my arms being the wings) and tried to let him know that we were flying home and that our bags were already full.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

His reaction made it clear that it was a pity, and with a smile he mimicked driving a car, so I got the idea that he meant that next time we should drive to Portugal instead of flying.

Then he noticed that I was smiling as I looked at a chamber pot that had a face on the side of it… he laughingly picked it up and made some more serious arty poses with it as I took photos, then he posed with it upside down on his head.

I left him after a fit of giggles and felt that the world was a better place for having had a good laugh, a good conversation in international sign language and where a little bit of humour and a smile goes a very long way.

It reminds me that meeting the locals is the best bit of travelling abroad, that  being willing to make a gesture to show that you appreciate and admire the goods even if you are not in a practical position to buy, is often appreciated by the seller.

He’s been standing there all day, no doubt many people just averted their eyes and walked on past… a smile was appreciated and we both had a good laugh. This is typical of the down to earth friendliness of the Portuguese, but you know what? Give most people and opportunity to be friendly and in my experience 99.9% of them will.

So… make eye contact, have a laugh, communicate with people, even if you do speak the language, don’t let formality get in the way, smile and go on… dare a little.

These are the true riches of not only travel, but of Life.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 22, 2010

Living your Best Life, an Inspirational Man…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m being a bit haphazard here and skipping back to an earlier post today… I misplaced a camera chip that featured a two more of the artisans who were working and selling at the medieval market that took place on the weekend of the 27th August in Vila Nova de Cerveira.

Today I found the chip at the bottom of the side pocket of my camera bag (looked before there but missed it the first time)  so I’m taking the time to re-visit these two artisans because both were  friendly and delightful and because they made a real impression on me.

Neither spoke more than three words of English and my ten words of Portuguese didn’t go particularly far but sign language and smiles are international and we made do most excellently with both.

Himself has taken the kids and his excellent Portuguese language talent to the tapas restaurant  restrooms for an urgent kid pit-stop, and they wanting to take the short route back to the car afterwards, this was my opportunity to negotiate the one side street full of market stalls that I had not yet seen, so I nipped off to have a look around and will meet up with them at the car.

Two stalls in particular stood out… and this post is about the broom seller.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was instantly clear this this man  suffered from a substantial learning problem, his words came out  slurred and with great difficulty,  but he had a very willing (and very noticeably toothless) smile and when he wasn’t attempting to engage with potential customers he was sitting  on a stool constructing a new brooms before my eyes.

The process is swift, his hands dexterously show that he has done this before, probably thousands of times and the head of the broom takes shape with a speed and ease that makes it looks easy.

I know enough about handwork to know that when it looks that easy it definitely isn’t… if I were ever silly enough to try this, I’d be all fingers and thumbs and people would br cracking up with laughter.

He made a great impression on me because in spite of a clear and profound communication disability, he had found a skill and was attempting to make the very best of it in spite of it.

If you could only have heard him attempting to speak you would understand how painful it must be to put yourself  “out there”  on full show and in full view the market place and public with this kind of impediment. I’m not one brave enough to stand and speak in public willingly at any time, so this man earned my utmost respect for doing this and you know what, his handcrafted brooms were amazing too.

Bravo to this man for not only learning a skill that hopefully helps him to make a living, but for also having the courage to actually set up a stall and do the selling himself.  He is a wonderful example of someone who’s trying hard to look at all the positives in life and not just dwelling on the negatives.

He might have every reason and excuse to use this profound communication problem to not participate fully in life or work,  but it’s clear that he has no intention of letting his difficulties hold him back, and for this he earns my utmost respect.

Sadly even a very beautiful a broom wasn’t going to fit into our bags for the flight home or I would have seriously been thinking about getting one.

I  wanted to make a blog post about him as soon as I found my “lost” photos of him because he is the sort of person who should be an inspiration to us all.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 20, 2010

Restaurant Review: Tapas Portuguese Style

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are back in the northern Portuguese town of Vila Nova de Cerveira, this time we are eating out again Recanto de Vila, a Restaurant that specialises in “Tapas Variadas” (varieties of Tapas).

The day has been warm indeed, we are tired and as it’s late in the day.

We opt for a simple tapas meal, and with the last rays of the setting sun finds us seated outside with a simple meal of bread, meat and cheese, accompanied by a simple side salad of tomatoes and onion and some fries to indulge the kids.

Some of the best meals are this simple, the bread is soft and divine as usual and the meats are smoky.

The cheeses are creamy and go well with the meats… all in all we have a brilliant meal.

Had it not been so late already (and Little Mr. fading) I would have been interested in ordering something from the barbecue, if only to have been able to have had the novelty of seeing it cooked on this medieval looking, humongously solid machine.

The heat of the day and the tiredness of the kids however dictated common sense when choosing from the menu and all in all, our meal turned out very well indeed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Verdict? … Yum!

December 19, 2010

The Outworkings of the Creative Process…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our  campsite is close to the town of Vila Nova de Cerveira.

The symbol of the town is the Stag… as outlined in these previous posts:

https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/new-141/

https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/new-140/

I’m a sucker for artforms , fountains and the like… stone, water, carving, iron, bronze, tile, paintings, mosaics , the list goes on and I like nothing more than looking at the creations that other artists have produced.

I don’t expect to always love every single one that I see, but I can appreciate most of them and some of them … well, some of them are just delightful.

Some of them show whimsy, humour, some of them make political, ethical or other statements, some are just pleasing in their design, be that design complicated or simple.

I like seeing the interpretation of ideas worked out into physical forms in different media.

Statues and Artworks around Vila Nova de Cerveira often reflect the Stag theme…

…but there are also a few other amazing statues and fountains on display too.

Let’s take a look and enjoy what’s on view…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


November 25, 2010

Onions and Churches… Sigh, Someone had to Do It…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Finally I’m getting to grips with my new camera, I’ve discovered a few of the manual settings even if I haven’t yet mastered the best focal lengths or any of the other technical bits that go with them.

I have one camera chip that has gone missing… I know what photos were on it but can’t find it anywhere and have been going crazy looking for it.

I’m annoyed with myself because I know I had more photos of the local artisans taken in one of the side streets…  and some of some amazing statues.

Unless I can magically find that chip this will be my last piece on the Medieval Market, …  my recent Bread post reminded me that I had taken other foodie photos in the market and also there were so shots of the church and some of the banners that I really liked too.

Therefore this means that this post ended up like the junk drawer in your kitchen,  Yes, You must have one of those, ‘fess up…. the drawer that houses stubs of old birthday candles, pieces of string, elastic bands , the scissors that are so blunt (as my Mother was fond of saying) that  “you could ride bare butt to London on them and not get cut” .

In short … various odds and ends,  their purpose undetermined but  with possibilities of usefulness that it would seem wasteful to throw them away.

So ergo.. Onions and Churches anyone?  Odd mix I know, but someone had to do it and I’m certainly crazy enough.

The big question is …. Will this kind of mix-and-match catch on?

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… and this one, just to confuse you even further.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 24, 2010

Ants… like you’ve NEVER seen them before…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I think that the artisan at the Medieval weekend of 27th August 2010  in Vila Nova de Cerveira,  who made the biggest impression on Family Kiwidutch was George… 

George makes puppets. not glove puppets or rod puppets but Marionette type of puppets.

And what’s special about  George’s marionettes? Well, they are special because they are all Ants.

George hand-makes all his puppets himself and they are a very colorful array of eccentric looking characters.

What’s more they can produce an amazing  amount of movements… and George is an expert when it comes to demonstrating their possibilities.

We had seen George and his wife the evening before, but photography was impossible as it was seriously dark by the time we discovered his stall.   By “we” I mean Kiwi Daughter and I, since Little Mr was rapidly tiring  and fraying around the edges so preferred to sit  with Himself by the restaurant we had eaten at whilst daughter and I had a quick scout around the remaining stalls.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi Daughter loved the Ants. so I said to George that we could come back for a proper look the next day to check them out in daylight, and  when I said mentioned this he probably assumed that such a comment was a way of a passer-by to escape  buying something.

When we turned up next morning  he remembered us and was delighted that we had returned as promised.

We got talking, and from what I gather, George worked in the field of  Entomologist in a former career, and has a fascination for ants. In fact he expressly asked me to mention in my blog that most people would not know that ants make up 20% of the earth’s biomass and are very very important  creatures in the world ecosystems. (and No…I didn’t know that, either)

George also asked me a question: Do ants work or survive? I said that they work… “wrong!” he replied,  “people work, work is done for money, ants survive because that is their simple instinct”   So… I’m learning a lot about ants today, as you are too, I assume.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I personally love low-tech toys that use imagination so I was immediately drawn to the Ants.. and so were my children, they fell in love immediately and yes, I was most happy to buy some to bring home.

Now, even if I do have to blow my own trumpet here, my dexterity skills in maneuvering these is better than that of my children.

But when it came to making a small video to show you, it quickly became clear that operating the puppet and filming it at the same time was never going to be a success, so I roped in the kids …  the results are ok, but I can assure you that you can make these walk and dance with a very smooth movement and it looks wonderful.

I can do it “OK” ( better than the kids, but still just “OK”).

Georges did it brilliantly and if I had any sense I should have made the video with him whilst we were at the stall.

Needless to say that at the time I didn’t have any sense. Now I only have 20/20 hindsight.

There is a trick to winding these up and storing these and Little Mr. hasn’t mastered it yet, resulting in me sitting untangling his puppet a lot, but Kiwi Daughter has it down to a fine art and delights in showing off her skills.

We hope in time to get as skilled at working these as George is… Ah ha.. more practice is needed, and with  each practice I can assure you are many squeals of laughter and delight.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 23, 2010

A Rymthic Tap that Rings though the Ages…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the most rewarding parts of the Vila Nova de Cerveira medieval festival is that some of the artisans were on hand  in the streets so that you might actually see them working their craft.

This gentleman was sitting on a very low stool, rhythmically tapping away at a piece of metal with  little hammers,  shaping and embellishing by tapping out patterns with additional little patterning tools.

Passing members of the public stopped to look and asked questions (in Portuguese) and he chatted away, answering them as he worked.

He had a stall close by where examples of his work were displayed for sale.

Like all the other stall holders he was dressed in medieval style clothes and with what he was doing he probably looked much the same as artisans did for centuries before him as they crafted items of beauty like these.

The dexterity of his hands showed years of practice and a true love of  handcrafting the metal.

I can only hope that these aren’t dying arts.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 19, 2010

Taking a Little Peek Around…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

Looking around the medieval themed Market in Vila Nova de Cerveira  there are an amazing array of goods for sale. Many of course are the “regular” Saturday stall holders dressed up in medieval costume for the event, but some are artisans who have some from further afield, not only from northern Portugal but also from nearby Galatia, Spain.

I spy cheeses made in Vila Real for instance. Here’s a closer look at some of the things on offer…

There are handcrafts…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This stall holder had a giant loom next door and woven goods for sale…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

jewelery…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A Spanish and Portuguese favourite: Churros for sale… it didn’t take our kids long to develop a longing for them too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Crepes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hand made soaps… these in the next photo are lavender… I did regret lack of suitcase space with these.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

beautiful decorative metalwork…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Carpets, cushions, curtains… and tables with brass-ware.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sangria anyone?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I get side tracked… and not by the stalls…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Leather goods…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

General fare…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Seize the Day indeed…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 18, 2010

Do YOU Drool Over it’s Taste or it’s Photogenic Qualities?

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Portuguese are famous for their Chorizo sasuages. Himself loves Chorizo, but I prefer lean meat so find them a bit too fatty for my liking.

I like Chorizo, and any sausage similar once in a while but not too often.

Wikipedia gives a good description of Chorizo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorizo

“Chorizo: Galician: chourizo, Portuguese: chouriço, Catalan: xoriço (“ʃuˈɾisu”)  is a term encompassing several types of pork sasuage originating from the Iberian Peninsula.

Chorizo can be a fresh sausage, in which case it must be cooked before eating. In Europe it is more frequently a fermented cured smoked sausage, in which case it is usually sliced and eaten without cooking.

Spanish chorizo and Portuguese chouriço get their distinctive smokiness and deep red color from dried smoked red peppers (pimentón/pimentão or colorau).

Due to culinary tradition, and the expense of imported Spanish smoked paprika, Mexican chorizo (and chorizo throughout Latin America) is usually made with chile peppers, which are used abundantly in Mexican cuisine.

In Latin America, vinegar also tends to be used instead of the white wine usually used in Spain. In Spain and Portugal the sausages are usually encased in intestines, in a traditional method that has been used since Roman times.

In Latin America, however, they are usually encased in artificial casings, have a smooth commercial appearance, and artificial colorings are often used.

Chorizo can be eaten as is (sliced or in a sandwich), barbecued, fried or simmered in apple cider or other strong alcoholic beverage such asaguardiente. It also can be used as a partial replacement for ground beef or pork.”

At the medieval market there are stalls with all sorts of Chorizo sasuage  for sale… Himself is drooling at the thought of their taste, I’m drooling more at their photogenic qualities…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Each to his/her own… drool on…

November 17, 2010

I feel your Piercing Eyes upon Me…

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are still in Vila Nova de Cerveira  in Northern Portugal where the medieval weekend is in full swing.

The festival took place back  in the weekend of August 27th 2010 but I’m blogging about this after the event for reasons for  internet privacy

…and because we were so busy doing things (or nothing) while on holiday that I write the text in my journal and worry about sorting all the photographs and putting them all together later.

(Also it ‘s not wise to tell the whole world our exact holiday  address and dates where we are away from home, etc.)

So.. back to Vila Nova de Cerveira : First we see a gathering of  people in the street, a gap in the crowd reveals a man doing a demonstration with a falcon.

The bird flies to the sound of bells on the trainers glove, and receives a food treat  for his efforts.

We round the side of the church to find a small fenced off area where more falcons and owls are tethered and here is a display all about falconry.

The trainers are also in medieval garb.

A lady sits with one bird at the back and she is  talking to it and stroking it gently on the head… One of the Owls has a damaged eye and I get the idea that some of these are rescue birds.

I’m just disappointed that I don’t get photo’s that do these beautiful birds justice…

(I definitely need to get to know this new camera better, on relection I think I should have used the “portrait” mode instead of automatic in this instance).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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