Monday, 31 August 2015

The remains of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Seiça, Figueira da Foz - The 29th of August 2015

Having been founded in 1162 by the Portuguese King D. Afonso Henriques the Monastery of Santa Maria de Seiça (a small burough pertaining to Figueira da Foz) is believed to have florished under the Benedictine Order.
In 1555 the Monastery's artefacts were handed to the Order of Christ as its premises were closed down by King D. João III until 1560, when under the rule of King D. Sebastião they were handed over to the Cister order, who in no time turned the former Monastery into a Centre of Philosophical Studies.

With the extinction of the religious orders in 1834 the Monastery is saidd to have gone through a rather slow yet visible process of degradation and ruin until it was sold to a prominent and rich man who transformed it into a rice shelling mill that went through to 1975.

Officially considered a monument of interest (I wonder what it would be like if it werent't ...) its remains stand in the middle of nowhere in a complete state of abandonment, as if to remind Portuguese people of the little importance we pay to the historic past of our country ...


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Another Murakami's book ...

After having finished reading Murakami's A wild sheep chase I felt like engaging in a similar type of reading, which ultimately led me to reading his thirty five page short story Sleep taken from the first published collection of short stories with fabulous illustrations by Kat Menschik, which in my opinin perfectly complemented the text.
The story skirts around the theme of wakefulness ... sleeplessness ... "living" and dying (beyond the literal sense) as from the perspective of a young house-wife, whose ambiguous chain of thoughts  have her "trapped" during the night time when she does claim space and time from a monotonous daily routine to redefine herself as a woman, by being "awake" to herself whils her family, the ones she is directly related to ... "sleep".


"By abandoning sleep I had expanded myself. The power to concentrate was the most important thing. Living without power would be like opening one's eyes without seeing anything."
I closed my eyes and tried to recall the sensation of sleep, but all that existed for me inside was a wakeful darkness. A wakeful darkness: what it called to mind was death. Was I about to die? And if I died now, what would my life have amounted to?"


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The latest book I have read ...

I have just finished reading another book by Murakami and the truth is that despite the fact that I really enjoy his writing style when it comes to commenting on what he has written I always find a tremendous difficulty (to say the least) to really convey what I feel can (should) be said, the reason being that  there's always a myriad of thoughts, assumptions and potential interpretations therewith associated.

A wild sheep chase, which I have actually read in French (la course au mouton sauvage) takes the main character of the book (and the readers along with him almost inevitably) into a remote location in the snowy mountains of Northern Japan in what could be considered a rather surreal quest of a "mythological" sheep ...  What the sheep represents is questionable but I'd like to look at it from the perspective of whatever we may be searching for in life ..., whether it is the meaning for one's existence or one's emotions ...

I've copied down some sentences which amongst several caught my attention, though similarly to some reader's opinion - "this is very much a book that bears rereading", I feel there's a lot more to ponder on ..., which would necessarily imply a second or a third reading.

"Tout le monde a au moins une chose qu'il ne souhaite perdre à aucun pris (...) un être humain possède nécessairement un moyen terme entre ses désirs et son amour propre. De la même manière que tout corps a un centre de gravité. Un jour tu comprenderas ce que je veux dire. C'est toujours quand il est trop tard qu'on s'aperçoit que cette chose existait."

"Avec notre habitude de y tailler chacun selon ses mensurations, on finit par être la proie d'illusions, mais le temps est d'une continuité à toute épreuve."

"(...) que la vraie vie c'était d'être perpétuellement à la recherche de quelque chose."


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The batuco dance ...

I've been sent a photo that was taken about a year ago by my friend Noëlle, as I and another foreigner were invited (not to say forcefully) to dance  (or rather ... try to dance) batuco at a performance  of this musical and dance genre in the capital city of Cape Verde, Praia.

To move one's hips without moving anything else is not an easy task but I do clearly recall that out of "personal pride" both I and the French gentleman (for the same reasons, I believe) did our best to "impress" those who were watching us ... at Quintal da Música (and if I rememberr correctly it was almost full).

I didn't think a photo could make me as nervous as I was there and then when I was drawn to the stage ... Whether we did impress anyone is irrelevant because (apart from the natural nervousness) in the end we did enjoy ourselves throughout the experience ... regardless of people's opinions ...


The latest film I've seen ...

Based on The guest by Alber Camus, David Oelhoffen's film named Loin des hommes (Far from men) is I believe an affecting film in as much as  it takes us into a stunning physical surrounding landscape which undeniably highlights the desolate emptiness of the desert and by contrast the moral richness of its main characters who despite being very different have both found themselves in an unwilling situation none of them can apparently escape from.

The film goes well beyond the Algerian story setting because it makes us ponder on choices, free will, dignity, values and principles.

One of the main roles is played by Viggo Mortensen, whose interpretation is outstanding, as it would be expected from someone like him. As far as the other main role is concerned I must admit Reda Kateb's interpretation which is second to none, came as a surprise (for me), most certainly because I had never heard of him before (shame on me or the fact that not many French films are exhibited in Portugal).


Monday, 24 August 2015

More photos taken during the children's Summer English course final presentation - The 21st of August of 2015


I have today received some photos taken during the last presentation and the Art exhibition of the last group of children I taught during last week. I believe the children's expressions speak for themselves so I need not add anything to what I have written before, except that I do miss their daily excitement already ...


Friday, 21 August 2015

The short duration Summer English course for 4 to 6 year old children -The final presentation - The 21st of August 2015


Children had a surprise as they walked into the classroom the day of the final presentation and Art exhibition because Ana and I had decorated it like in the previous courses with the best photos taken during the course in which they can be seen carrying out several of the English lessons activities, as well as the complementary half an hour daily Art activity ones.

I had the children rehearse their performance twice in the auditorium, where there were some unexpected technical problems that had to be resolved prior to the presentation, and because I realised most of them were over excited I had them watch the second part of the film we had watched the day before in the classroom.
There seemed to be very little I could do to calm them down. Parents, grandparents and guests started arriving fairly early as one of the boys had to be at the hospital to be operated on early in the afternoon and from then on it was even more complicated, once they were almost totally "out of control".

Everyone loved the way they performed and taking into account most of the opinions it was by far, according to them, the best performance they had watched (bearing in mind the previous exhibitions). I didn't personally think the same way though I was merely judging it from the "technical" point of view and not necessarily the joy and  outward showcasing attitude most of them demonstrated throughout the exhibition.

By the end of the morning I can't deny it  ... I did feel a sense of duty accomplished and despite the tiredness I was happy with the overall final outcome. Never had I worked so much over such a short period of time, bearing in mind the increasing number of children attending the Summer courses. My committment payed off  ... so I couldn't feel happier.