by Paulo Romao
Caldas de Sao Paulo. Near Oliveira do Hospital. I don’t know how this place that I miss revisiting will be now. In the 80s, it was a bit like the perfect Portugal. The village was small, with few houses and a store where you could stock up on “almost everything”, as long as it was in small quantities, because there weren’t many people.
We could go down a dirt road to the banks of the Alva. A place where the river
rested in a small pond, remaining calm even after crossing a
refreshing waterfall. It was she who, in unison with the chirping of the birds and the rustling of the leaves on the trees, composed a soothing soundtrack. On its bank, we could enjoy a small green meadow dotted with birch trees that comforted us with the coolness of their shade.
I found myself there when I was looking for a place to organize a summer camp for young people. A land of “Mocamfe” (Movement of Summer Camps “Free Time”). This is the name of the movement that still exists today and continues to organize camps, elsewhere, elsewhere.
The location was perfect. Shade and lawn to pitch the tents. Safe river for swimming. Running water and a covered porch, to fit out the kitchen and welcome us on rainy days. And, something rare these days, the authorization of the village festival committee, responsible and guardian of this place.
Everything was negotiated with Mr. Carlos, head of the party committee. Very friendly and welcoming, full of dynamism and energy, despite his physical handicap which forces him to
move around in a wheelchair. To this day I still remember with awe his physical ability to navigate this steep and uneven terrain, difficult even for us young and healthy. I never heard him cry. He was always there to help and support us, or to play dominoes during the village sale, when we had our free time together.
These dominoes sessions were memorable, accompanied by peanuts and a soda that I only knew at this place. His name was “Sorve”. Available in orange or pineapple flavor, bottled and
taste identical to “Sumol”. The peanut shells had to be thrown on the ground to be swept up at the end of the day. The peelings on the table were a serious offense to the owner of the sale.
Mr. Carlos only asked us two conditions for the transfer of the site. Always keep it clean and we can coexist for a day with the village festival, which would take place right in the middle of the
camping. As for cleanliness, there was no room for discussion, as Mocamfe has always
he greatly respected the places that welcomed him. The party question was more complicated. This would alter the dynamics of the camp, distract the participants and pose some security problems due to the presence of strangers.
We agreed that on the day of the party we would go for a walk, taking the children out of the
camp and leaving the enclosure free to their usual guests. Very well. All
Combined. So passed the first days in this paradise. Only with the silence of the waterfall and the birds, with the happy laughter of the children and the chords of our songbook.
Until the day when we woke up with a strident experience 1, 2, 3, a sound… a sound!
It never occurred to us that preparations for the party would start two days earlier, with the
sound installation, lighting, supply of “minis”, etc., etc. Obviously, we had to adapt. We were the intruders. It was painful to miss the silence of the waterfall.
Tonicha and José Cid, among others, have superimposed themselves on the shy guitars of our songbook. Mr. Carlos apologized sympathetically. And sincerely concerned about our well-being.
It was in one of these conversations with him that my outburst arose, the origin of this story.
– Tell me Mr. Carlos. How is it possible to spoil this peace and quiet with so much noise? With this music so loud and so strident that it won’t let us hear the river? – I asked, with a certain innocence and a lot of urban pride.
Mr. Carlos looks at me impassively, despite having plenty of reason to be offended by my comment. He responds with his usual calm and kindness.
– The peace, quiet and waterfall we have all year round. It’s even boring. at this stage what
what we want is animation and music… and noise. To see if we can hold out for another year of calm.
We suffer a lot here from an excess of lack of animation.
It was only then that I became aware of my lack of sensitivity and respect for this gentleman, for this place and for its inhabitants. Mr. Carlos was absolutely right. And the next year we came back. To another camp. With more young people. More guitars. Interrupt, as much as possible, the calm of this place.