Tuesday, 6 January 2015


My first trip to Quarteira was in 1975 . . . or maybe 1974 . . .

My close friend from college, Pedro, was a political exile from the fascist regime, and when the Carnation Revolution took place in April 1974 he was keen to return.

We travelled over with Hugh, another friend from college and whilst Pedro went visiting relatives and friends, Hugh and I camped in the Lisbon site set up by the military for all the young radicals from around the world. There we met two French women, Dominique and Sylvie and soon came to an arrangement to pair off.

After a few days soaking up the heady atmosphere of Lisbon, where the old regime had fallen with hardly any violence, we decided to take a trip to the Algarve.

Dominique and I hitch-hiked down, having arranged to meet the others at the campsite in Quarteira. Our final lift was with two Angolans. Angola, previously a Portuguese colony in Africa, had been given independence as part of the revolution. Otelo, the charismatic soldier and leader of the Armed Forces Movement, was born in the other African colony, Mozambique. The driver and his friend offered us dope from Angola. It was strong stuff and made us rather paranoid, especially when they drove off the road along dirt tracks, saying something about the police. Anyway, they dropped us at the campsite and we wandered around, spaced out and failing to find our friends. Finally we came to sand dunes, in the dark, heard the sound of waves, but were confused at the lights in front of us, where open sea should be. It turned out to be the fishing fleet and I was reminded of it by seeing them again this time. We slept on the dunes and found the others next day.
Quarteira was much smaller then. The tourist info person said most of it was built in the 70s and 80s. Development is still going on, though a lot has stopped with the economic crisis.

Yesterday's walk to Loule took me past the apartments to builders' merchants, furniture shops, garden centres . . . all the spin off enterprises from the building boom.

Whether it's the resonance from that first visit, the beach, the sun or what, I don't know. For a relatively new town, it has a good feel to me. One of the reasons for another day's stay . . .

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