Friday, 30 August 2013

Castelo de Vide, Alentejo - Portugal - Traditional costumes

I have always been fascinated by traditional costumes and those who know me have already seen me in various outfits from either my own country or foreign countries I have visited, some of which I easily "incorporate" in my daily working routine.

In my recent trip to Castelo de Vide I managed to buy some cards which do show some of these, which I have been told are still worn throughout the Easter festivities of the town.

Embroidered "Rainha" costume - 17th and 18th centuries.
Ruched silk blouse, bolero and skirt in baize embroidered with braid and ribbons to imitate the golden embroidery of Queen Isabel's dress.

Farmworkers - 19th century.
Woman - Neckerchief, satin blouse with front, felt skirt with bars of velvet, hand-embroidered apron, lace stockings and calfskin shoes.
Girl - Full-collared blouse, felt skirt embroidered with braid, hand-embroidered merino apron.
Man - Felt hat, shirt with shirt-front, calfskin boots and woollen cloth jacket.

Olive pickers - 19th and early 20th centuries.
Cotton kerchief, calico blouse, cloth skirt (transformed into breeches), calico apron caught up, hand woven cotton stockings, heavy leather shoes.
(Used during the olive harvest, one of the most important activities in the region).

Vine Leaf skirt - 19th century.
Skirt made of wollen cloth embroidered with braid and ribbon.
(Used by unmarried girls over Carnival).

Festive costume - Farm land owners - 19th century.
Woman - Silk blouse with lace, skirt with strip hand embroidered with chain stitch, calfskin shoes.
Man - Shirt with shirt front, broadcloth trousers, waistcoat and jacket.
(Used on Sunday  "to visit God", which is the common local way to say to go to church).

Hay collector - 19th and 20th centuries.
Straw hat, cotton kerchief covering most of the face, knee-length skirt (transformed into breeches) and caught up apron.

"Côca" - 18th and 19th centuries.
Mantilla of silk cloth with veil, silk blouse, skirt, stockings and shoes.
(This was essentially a wedding dress, but was also used to pay visits of condolence to families in mourning and/or to go the cemetery on all Saints' Day. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Castelo de Vide, Alentejo - Portugal (cont.) - The 24th and 25th of August 2013


It is said the wealth of Castelo de Vide's traditional cuisine is reinforced by the sheer antiquity of its culinary customs, which seem to combine popular traditional recipes with Jewish-Marrano cooking and the use of herbs. Castelo de Vide is home to some unique dishes I didn't try, such as sarapatel (a spicy pork or lamb stew), cachafrito (fried lamb of kid) and molhinhos (lamb tripe rolls).

Other culinary highlights include alhada de cação (dogfish garlick stew), bacalhau dourado (golden salt codfish) and migas de batata (potato crumbs), as well as a vast choice of game dishes.

Local cakes and deserts include queijadas (curd cakes), boleimas (a fusion of Jewish traditions based on unleavened bread) and encharcada de nozes  (a wall nut and egg desert type).

I did try "alhada de cação", "encharcada de nozes" and "queijadas de requeijão" , all of which I found to be really delicious.

After having had an early dinner I strolled around the town back streets, coming across a rather interesting building I believe to have either been Casa Magessi (known as yellow house) or a Governmental building of some sort  (though I may be wrong), as well as the Municipal swimming pool and outdoor sports ensemble before I walked back into the main street in time to see the sun go down.

The following day I got up fairly late and decided to walk in the opposite direction though not too far from the hotel. I unexpectedly came across a fountain which was built under the reign of D. Pedro II, whose water is believed to be particularly rich in chloride, bicarbonate and potassium, according to some people who were precisely collecting water from it.

A little bit further on a small church and a cemetery. Since the untimely death of my daughter I have "developed" a different attitude towards cemeteries and I can now stroll around them as if to reflect on life. I was once told that the best place to ponder on life happens to be closer to those who have already "gone", whether it brings about anything worth pondering on I don't know, but I do know I spent some time around having soon concluded that those having been killed in the long lasting colonial war were "assembled" together in one particular area. 

For some sort of unknown reason it brought back memories of the past when religious single teenagers and spinster in Portugal were encouraged to become "godmothers" to those young soldiers who had left and had nobody to write or send a message to. I also became a "war godmother" and was among the very few who later got to know the one I had written to over the period of six months when he returned alive from Mozambique.  

The last moments in Castelo de Vide before getting on the bus back to Lisbon were spent photographing a rather meaningful monument praising the notable doctors and researchers born in the town and who in various ways influenced the course of medicine in Portugal, as well as another interesting looking fountain in the centre of the town.

I slept most of the way having woken up as we were driving along bridge Vasco da Gama and getting into Lisbon, where I "captured" a rather interesting image of the sun going down.

Despite the fact that this trip's purpose ended up not  being what it was supposed to I did really enjoy it and  feel there will be many more trips on my own ... I do enjoy travelling with and within myself.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Castelo de Vide, Alentejo - Portugal - The Castle and the Jewish Quarter (cont.) - The 24th and 25th of August 2013


Standing on the crest of the hill and surrounded by a vast valley the 13th century Castle built by Afonso Sanches comprises an extraordinary medieval quarter, whose outstandingly well preserved traditions and traces of the existence of a Jewish quarter outside its walls, such as Jewish symbols carved into door frames  and the small Sefardite synagogue itself have turned it into a unique outstanding historical heritage complex.

I wandered about the medieval burg admiring the white washed walls of the houses and the multiple flowers decorating the doors and even some streets. Stopped several times so as to confirm whether what I was looking at was really real, because in all honesty there were times I felt that what I had in front of me was sufficiently magic to be true.

The streets were mostly empty with just a few visitors walking up and down in similar ecstasy to my own. The town is said to have exponentially grown in the late 15th century to accommodate the Jews who had been expelled from Castille but it was not hard to imagine what it must have been like for them, as one could actually "breathe" their presence.

I had to come back the following day so as to visit the small Synagogue my mother had told me I shouldn't miss, despite the fact one was not allowed to take photographs.

I walked back and forth for what turned out to be almost three hours and yet every time I turned around I seemed to find something different that I hadn't noticed before. I felt I was in love with the little medieval town and was not even bothered by the extreme heat.