Newsletter March 2013

Margarida Sampaio @

Compared to the quiet of recent months February was a welcome change filled with activities, events and a burst of colour in Carvoeiro.
February is of course the month that sees everyone from the local area come together for fun and dubious costumes all in the name of carnival and we were lucky enough to even have dry weather this year for the event.

Last year was a massive disappointment in Carvoeiro thanks to the lack of Carnival celebrations but it was back to business as usual this year with parades being held on both the Sunday and on the Tuesday.

There is no official bank holiday in Portugal for carnival anymore thanks to austerity measures stealing away some of our numerous holidays – most of which nobody ever really understood anyway, however thankfully nobody round these parts seems to pay much attention to what the government is saying (Lisbon is a long way away don’t you know).  This meant that the local schools were closed and most of the local businesses shut up shop too for the Tuesday celebrations. The few businesses that did open up mainly closed in the afternoon anyway once the parade got under way.
There were not nearly as many people taking part in the main carnival parade this year compared past years but it was great to see people still taking the time and the effort to come up with a float.

The smurf float complete with an enormous mushroom and lots of blue faced children was a highlight for younger members of the crowd while the gladiators, Greeks, Roman emperors and Pharaohs all came out for a glamorous float filled with colour and plenty of flesh on show for the crowd who didn’t seem to mind the distinctly muddled historical references – well history is history I suppose!

There was a good turn out on both days to the carnival despite the fact that there had been little to no advertising for the event anywhere about so it was more luck than good management that saw most of the people coming to the streets each day – although I am sure many were drawn down to the square by the smell of the suckling pig turning away on the spit.

Many people in the crowd dressed up for the occasion and any child that made the effort was rewarded by being pelted by sweets thrown by enthusiastic people on the floats.  The sweets that didn’t maim the children were left in the road for the said children to then dodge the tractors to try and retrieve them making for an interesting addition to the carnival spectacle.

Sometimes I feel very foreign here and this was very apparent when after the parade on the Tuesday two singers with a keyboard proceeded to launch into baile classics and called on the crowd to get up and dance.  I did not know the words to any of the songs and declined dancing with another woman and retreated quickly to the bar!

After all of the fun of the carnival we were straight on to the next big event on the calendar in Carvoeiro, the Volta Algarve cycle race which came through Carvoeiro and Sesmarias as part of the second leg of the race.
After a summer of sport in London last year, cycling has become more popular than ever and this was evident with the rise in the number of people who came out to watch the racers as they came through along the route.
Last year there were only a few spectators who came out for the event but this year there were many people not only along the route but also at the finish line in Lagoa keen to get a glimpse of some cycling greats.
It was great to see local resident Bruno Silva giving out the yellow jersey at the end of the race and the champagne celebrations and ladies in little dresses added a great touch of glamour to Lagoa on a sunny February afternoon!
Yet again there was too little advertising and notice about what was going on leaving many people bewildered as to why roads were closed and they were unable to get back into their homes after a visit to Intermarche in the morning.

Anyone who had been inspired by carnival and was looking for more men dressed as women, women dressed as boys and boys dressed as monkeys would have been more than pleased with the latest pantomime from the Algarveans which took place in February.
Plenty of Carvoeiro faces made up the cast and crew and a good few residents made the trip down to Lagos to watch the performance of Robinson Crusoe.
The performance itself was one of the best ever from the group and while there were plenty of laughs on stage there was nothing more funny than looking across at the audience and spotting the non-British guests who had come along to watch the show.  They could be spotted all too easily thanks to their generally bewildered looks and confused glances at the pantomime which highlighted the best of British eccentricity!

Back in Carvoeiro there are plenty more events planned for March and thanks to the early arrival of Easter the annual fair to mark the occasion will be held this month.
The exact plans for the Easter fair are still in the planning stages, however it has been confirmed that the fair will be taking place in the square from March 27 until March 31 and each day there will be stalls, live music and bouncy castles for children.

Expect the usual array of items on sale and a couple of Easter bunnies giving out sweets to children during this event that really brings some life into the centre of Carvoeiro during this traditionally busy time of year.

On a more serious note there will be a performance of the Passion Play depicting the events of Good Friday taking place in the convent in Lagoa on Good Friday.
This performance will see members of the All Saints Church in Lagoa acting out the story in this impressive setting and everyone is welcome to go along and watch from 2pm on Good Friday.

Don’t forget that Good Friday (March 29) is a bank holiday in Portugal so make sure you don’t make a date with your lawyer, the electricity board or the man who reads the water metre on this day!

Also taking place at the convent in Lagoa this month is an exhibition entitled “Portugal seen through Dutch eyes” with photos on display from members of the Dutch Photographers of the Algarve (NFA).
The exhibition will be running from March 2nd until April 13th and admission is free so take the opportunity to view the exhibition from Tuesday to Saturday from 9am until 12.30pm and from 2pm until 5.30pm when you are next in Lagoa this month.

If you enjoy traditional fairs in the Algarve then make sure you drive up to Monchique on March 2 and 3 for the Monchique Sausage Festival.  This is obviously not really a local event but it is one of the best and most entertaining events in the Algarve at this time of year and a great chance to buy some local sausages, honey and of course, to sample some medronho (make sure you bribe someone into being a designated driver for the day).
Be sure to get to the fair sooner rather than later because parking can be a little tricky at this event but it really is a great day out and worth venturing out of the town for!

Away from the events taking place this month we have had lots of activity taking place at Carvoeiro Clube de Ténis over the past few weeks.
Last year there was a change in the management of the club with the owners promising plenty of changes and these all seem to have started at once at the Clube which is barely recognisable at the moment.
The tennis courts have all head a new surface put on them while the reception has been demolished inside to make way for a new lounge type area for members and guests.
There are also changes taking place in the gym and also in the room used for zumba, dance and aerobics lessons so it is exciting times up at the tennis club at the moment and good to see people investing in Carvoeiro for the future.

While the owners at the tennis club are investing in improvements back down in the centre of Carvoeiro the paid parking will be coming back in this month on March 17th.
The parking along Rua do Barranco on both sides of the street from where the cobbled part of the road finishes all the way along to where the rubbish bins are will once again be paid parking only.
This initiative was in place last year over the summer months to try and raise revenue for the local junta while also providing paid parking spaces for people who want to park close to the centre of the town.
If the paid parking runs as it did last year then it will be in place until the end of October, however anyone not wanting to pay for parking can still use the area on Monte Dourado, further along Rua do Barranco, up the O Farol or even at Algar Seco.
Nobody wants to pay for parking but it seemed to work well last year and if we are to try to encourage people to come to Carvoeiro then we need to be able to offer parking options for everyone and this is one way of doing it.

Anyone parking their car in the area at local beaches needs to be aware that their car could be at risk.
Carvoeiro is generally a very safe area with a low crime rate, however it has been brought to the attention of that an increasing number of people are having their cars broken into while they are visiting the beach and unfortunately this is usually not covered by insurance.
The best advice is to make sure you park in an area with lots of other cars or people passing and when you leave your car make sure you leave nothing of value in it, especially not in view.
Pay particular attention when visiting beaches at quieter times of the year in the Carvoeiro and Ferragudo area and make sure you take steps to protect your car and your property.

There has been plenty of activity at the site of the new Aldi between Carvoeiro and Lagoa but at the time of writing this it still wasn’t open yet – although lights have been put on the worlds most obscure roundabouts to make it a little less of a death trap at night. 
Now all I have to do is work out which supermarket I will be shopping in this month and how many I will then be passing on the way to Iceland to buy my beef (horse?) burgers…

Until next month