A letter from Portugal No.28 Olhao ~our home town~
@ Olhao is an old fishermenÕs village and its fish market is still very famous. As we explained in our letter No.25, on every Saturday morning, an open-air market of fruits and vegetables is held next to this fish market and thousands of people come to do shopping. The market is too clouded that it is not easy to go through at that occasion. Numbers and varieties of the commodity are abundant, its price is cheap and the quality is so fresh and good. This market is a core of our everyday life here.
When I walk around Olhao, I feel, however, that this town is not clean regrettably. There are lots of dogs and the town is a paradise for them. At Parede, the town we formerly lived, the dogs are chained to their master and we saw they walk around together. In this town, the dogs are not chained at all. They are free and can go to and lie down at any place they like. And yet, they are not ownerless dogs. They are house kept dogs.
As a result of this, there remain many gcookiesh on the road. Some of them are soft and round because they are new and some of them are dry and flat because they are old and were run over by cars. Here gcookiesh mean faeces of dogs. No doubt, there are men who do the cleaning of the town and they do the work everyday. But it seems that these cookies are not included in their cleaning items and every time after their work, these cookies remain on the road. At fishermenfs towns in general, it smells and these cookies strengthen this smell of the town. The dogs, on the other side, spend happy life in lazy manner.
At summer time, these cookies are not so much annoying because it is a dry season. But in winter time when it is a rainy season, they embarrass us much. A young man who is in a hurry, steps over this cookie. He tries to control his anger and wears a wry smile. We very often encounter this scene and I myself am one of these who are forced this bitter smile.
Recently I had two interesting experiences. The first one is the experience which I had at the treasury department of this town to pay annual car tax. When I was in Parede town, the paying procedure was like this. First, the tax payer was requested to fill the regular payment form. A clerk in charge will check each item filled, decide the tax amount from the table and we pay the tax. That is all. Here in Olhao, I was not asked to fill the sheet at all but instead, I was requested to present all the documents relevant to my car. And the clerk fills every necessary item on his computer form. This work takes lots of time and a long line of waiting was there. I did not ask why they handle in this way and so, my explanation may not be true. But I guessed as follows. Mr. Salazar, ex-prime minister of this country, dominated the country for nearly forty years (1932~1968). During this period, the basic education was intentionally neglected by the government. They say that many of the people over 60 years old now, have difficulty to read and write or calculation. This way of payment may be the result of this anti-educational policy.
Another experience which surprised me, is on the parking building. When we came here last year to find a house to move in, a parking building was under construction near this house. The excavation work of vast area was undergoing and from my experience in Japan, I predicted that a big and high structure for parking will be built. gWhen this construction is over, the classical atmosphere of this old town will be impaired much. This pleasant view of the sea, the mountain and the nests of storks from the top of this house will be blocked by the new building. But we are not going to buy this house. We are to rent a house. We can go out whenever we like.h Accordingly, we moved in this house.
August 2007 y Seiji z