Newsletter February 2014
Margarida Sampaio @
It was on the news that the most depressing day of the year is the third Monday in January and let’s be honest, January is hardly a time for great fun and smiles, unless you are one of my Facebook friends who keeps on posting pictures of their Caribbean cruise that is. While the weather in the Algarve is undoubtedly much better than most places in Europe it is still not the jolly sunny place we all know and love in the summer months.
Normally in February I really struggle to find much to write about because most of the town is closed and the sight of a random tourist walking past the taxi rank is enough to cause a stir that we will be talked about for the rest of the week but this month is of course very different.
Anyone who keeps more or less up to date with what is going on in Carvoeiro will have seen the amazing pictures of the huge waves that hit the town earlier in January, causing massive damage to the O Barco Restaurant on the square and bringing a lot of attention to our normally sleepy January little town.
If you weren’t here at the time then thanks to social media you can have a good look at lots of pictures from the day and even the odd video – there is a cracker that was shown on the Portuguese news showing people being caught unawares as the waves creep back up the square again!
If there was any warning about the impending storm surge that was about to hit Carvoeiro on January 6th then myself and the majority of the other people in the town were all totally unaware about this, so it came as somewhat of a shock to get out of my car in Monte Carvoeiro at about 4.30pm to hear what sounded like some heavy building work going on. Turns out this was the sound of the waves hitting the cliffs and you could see the sea spray flying into the air.
I went to take a closer look and after about 10 minutes there were about 20 of us stood near to O Castello watching as the waves rolled in. And at first it was all rather pretty with the sea spray catching the sunlight but it soon became apparent that this was something a little different as the waves began to creep higher and higher up the beach.
A quick drive over to Algar Seco and within another 10 minutes the waves were so high they were crashing over the top of the O Boneca restaurant and as the waves grew in height, the number of people lining the cliff front did too.
Now, I am all for being a little nosy and love nothing better than to see just what is going on but I have to question the brain capacity of anyone on that day who thought that it was a good idea to stand right on the edge of the cliff to see just how high the waves were coming up. I particularly questioned the sanity of one couple who thought that their child should be able to get a closer look at the action by taking him down to the lower observation point on the GNR side of the cliffs, while his father took pictures of the waves and his mother looked on slightly in shock as if it was strange that she and said child should be getting wet when stood on top of a crumbling cliff as waves smash into them. They win my first award of 2014 for abject stupidity.
Anyway I digress, while the rest of us were struggling to get a look in without falling into the sea ourselves I was amazed to see just how many people had come down to the square to have a look. It turns out that some of the bars did a roaring trade that afternoon as people stopped to watch the waves, however it was not such good news for O Barco who saw the massive waves tearing through the building and leaving windows smashed and the place now under reconstruction.
In the end, when high tide hit at about 6.30pm, the waves managed to reach as far up as Smilers and a boat was washed into the road and a couple of cars got a good soaking. There were fears that the next high tide in the morning could cause further destruction but luckily the worst had passed and in the morning the diggers were out and the Bombeiros working hard to clear the debris and get Carvoeiro back into working order again.
While everyone did seem to get to work quickly to clear up the mess there are still plenty of signs of the storm with the huts by the beach still left and bits of equipment from the sea scouts on the roof. The wooden decking is also still broken and not replaced and there is still the odd boat hanging about in the square!
The beach itself had tonnes of sand dumped on it, I guess to replenish the sand that was lost during the storm and it is now acting as an extra barrier to any big waves that may come before the season is over. This mound of sand is also proving to be a big hit with the local children who have discovered the worlds biggest sand castle on the beach and enjoy running about in it and hiding from unwitting parents who then have to trek off to find them again!
I am not sure if it has anything to do with the new political party in power in Lagoa or not but there have been lots of works going on in Carvoeiro of recent. We have had trees trimmed, new zebra crossings painted on and random pavement work as well as a visit from the new president himself who came all the way from Lagoa to meet the people of little Carvoeiro. Either way, works are being done and one of the biggest projects has to be the new boardwalk being constructed along the cliff top between the Church and Algar Seco.
Enough wood to keep the Portuguese timber industry afloat for the next year has been delivered and each day workers are out in all weathers building this amazing structure along the cliff tops. They were even out on the day of the storm and didn’t clock off even when the waves were coming up and getting them wet as they worked!
The progress of the boardwalk seems to be coming along well and when it is done it will make a great addition to Carvoeiro and allow people who were not willing to scale the side of the cliff and jump over crevices to see the beautiful area of Escadinhas, the chance to see this hidden side of Carvoeiro. I will keep you posted as to when it is completed!
Another change in the town is the creation of a mini job centre for anyone looking for work in Carvoeiro. The junta building on Rua do Barranco is now home to the “Fabrica” a place where people can come to submit their CVs and look for local jobs with open sessions held on Wednesday mornings.
The situation in the Algarve and Portugal does seem to be on the up again but it is certainly nothing like it used to be back in the day and thee is still really high levels of unemployment so it is good to see the authorities doing something to actively help people who are looking for work in the area.
If you want to know more about job opportunities then pop into the Junta office and have a word with the staff who will be able to point you in the right direction.
SPRING HAS SPRUNG
With all the rain and storms at the start of the year it was becoming difficult to see the end in sight but the beautiful almond blossom has returned to the Algarve and Carvoeiro is filled with the pretty flowers once again.
As nature has burst into life so have many of the businesses in the town with works going on all around the place, although there are still many closed for the winter.
One of the places that is having a huge amount of work done is Tia Ilda with workmen thee daily remodeling the entire building. We also have a lot of work going on in the building on Rua do Barranco between the 3 Jotas restaurant and the shop with plans for another shop to open there.
Another new addition to the town is to be a new coffee shop/snack bar opening on Rua do Barranco next to Harrys bar. Works have been going on there for some time but it is looking like they are almost completed and António (formerly of A Galé) will be opening up very soon – so watch this space.
This year Carnival falls on Tuesday, March 4th but there will be a pre carnival parade by the local school children planned to take place on the Friday before (February 28). The theme this year from the council is “The Sea” so look out for one hundred mermaids and the odd jellyfish heading down the street on this day!
I don’t have any exact details of what will be going on for Carnival this year in Carvoeiro but here’s hoping that we have a parade again on the Tuesday and that the weather holds out for us all. If there is no parade here then you can always head off to one of the great ones taking place all over the Algarve with the main one being in Loulé and some other great ones taking place in Portimão and Alte.
Tis the season of romance and with Valentine’s day just around the corner then remember to book a table at your favourite restaurant as soon as possible.
Lots of places are doing special menus and promotions so support Carvoeiro while showing the other half a little love this month!
I will be spending Valentine’s in my usual way; tucked up on the sofa with something bubbly (probably a bottle of Cristal) and a takeaway curry…ah the romance isn’t dead in our house yet!
Until next month