Thursday, 22 September 2011

Distinguished visitor

Tomorrow, Friday 23 September 2011, Fajã Grande plays host to no less a personage than His Excellency Prof. Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the President of Portugal.

Fotografia Oficial, Setembro 2008

There's going to be a grande jantar (piss-up) at the balneareio hosted jointly by the presidentes of the câmaras municipais of Lajes das Flores and Santa Cruz das Flores. That requires some explanation.

First, the venue. Balneareio translates literally as "bathing facility". It can apply to the showers in a sports stadium but in FG means the bit where you swim in the sea (there being no beach as such) and more particularly the bar-restaurant there where you get your beers, ice creams and burgers on a hot summer's afternoon.

Often booked for island weddings, the Balneareio is run by a jolly chap called José Diamantino and his wife with the assistance of a team of local teenage girls. I can picture Senhora JD lining them up (inc. JD ele mesmo who will be ordered to shave for the occasion) to give them a sharp lecture on minding their Ps & Qs and telling the local lags usually to be found lined up at the bar shouting at each other that they'll need to make themselves scarce (rather like Fawlty telling the ladies they wouldn't be welcome at the Gourmet Night.)

Second, the hosts. There are, incredibly for an island of fewer than 4,000 people, two separate câmaras municipais (local authorities) on Flores - Santa Cruz (the north half of the island) and Lajes (the south half). Beaten only to the bottom spot by Corvo (pop. 400), they are respectively the third and second smallest CMs in Portugal and they don't get on with each other.

"The White House" - HQ of C.M.L (Camara Municipal das Lajes)
For a start, there's a territorial dispute. As long ago as the 18th century, worthies were sent to adjudicate but unfortunately they only fixed the boundary as being an imaginary line between the mouths of two rivers on the west and east coasts of Flores. In a pre-GPS era, that left not so much wriggle as thrashing about epileptically room as to where that line actually ran through the island's unhelpfully irregular interior.

More recently, border tensions erupted into open warfare a year or two ago when a Santa Cruz JCB was found digging sand alleged to be a few metres on the Lajes side of the DMZ. The matter was pursued to court (I'm not kidding!) and SC were mulcted in damages amounting to tens of thousands of Euros which, last I heard, had not yet been paid.

The presidente of the CM of Lajes is João Lourenço, the owner of the Flores equivalent of B&Q

That picture of JL sitting magisterially on his throne on the pier at Lajes glaring King Canute style at the waves is scanned from an edition of the Lajes Boletim Municipal which caused gales of mirth locally - had His Highness been borne aloft in his chair on the shoulders of the vereadores (councillors) from the White House down the hill to the sea, asked one wag? Presumably, the presidente of SC will be bringing his chair to the presidential jantar tomorrow - I can just picture them jostling their chairs against each other to get closer to His Excellency.

I must say, I'd been expecting the village to be swarming with Feds today, sweeping the place for security and making sure Frank's cows were safely penned in so they couldn't shite on the street and risk splattering the presidential limo. But no sign - the skies are darkening and the wind's getting up. Perhaps SATA have cancelled and the whole thing's off. I'll let you know what happens.

Incidentally - in case anyone's in any doubt about my British sense of humour - I consider it to be a GOOD THING that Frank's cows are allowed to shite on the street here. There's probably some humourless nanny state somewhere (Scotland, probably) where that sort of thing is banned. Don't get me started.

Rush hour in Faja Grande


Marisa Pereira said...

Ahahhahaha, Neil you took a while to write a new post, but the waiting was worth it. I'm just picturing and imagining the scenes, knowing the charaters it isn't hard to do, and laughing. The picture of mayor Lourenço is hilarious, so to speak, and in lack of a better adjective that wasn't offensive, like "grande cromo" for instance. ehhehe. Your view of the situation is very sharp.... bull's eye.

Kathie said...

Unlike Marisa, I don't know any of the dramatis personæ, but still can surely employ my imagination :-) No doubt you'll be recipients of reports afterwards of the official goings-on -- please do share whatever you safely can.

(What's B&Q?)