Agriculture 2.0: back to the roots

Grela, Poço de São Tiago, bridge, Vouga, farm, farmhouse, rural

Ana and Zé are two former city-dwellers disillusioned by life in the concrete jungle. A year ago they made the move of going rural, becoming part of a small group of youngsters that are going back to the roots and to a simpler life. It takes a hairy set of cohones and a good warm wardrobe to pull it off, as the nights in the farmhouse by the Vouga river are cold and humid, but they might just pull it off. The foodstuffs are growing fast and lively and they easily mix the study of the elements and its patterns with all the might of the theory, so easy to come by all over the internets. Learning-by-doing is backed up by careful planning and the research skills acquired in their formal professional lives. It’s a sort of agriculture 2.0, where ancient techniques are improved by permaculture notions and a sustainable lifestyle that recycles everything that comes out of the kitchen. It might be the future that they are tilling there.


granary, Grela, Vouga, carnival


In the sloped terrain that they’re taking care of in the small location of Grela, stand a couple of Espigueiros, small typical granaries made of wood, stone and ceramic tiles to keep the grain nice and dry.

The people on the right-hand side are a good friend from Sweden and his daughter being welcomed into the Portuguese carnival tradition of dressing up weirdly and face-painting. They performed wonderfully!

Nazaré: fish and record-breaking waves

Nazaré, landscape, beach, sea, ocean, street

Nazaré is a fishing village in the coastal region known as The West, or sometimes The Wild West. Its beaches have wooden structures that were used to dry the fish upon arrival to preserve it so that it could get to the inland parts of the country. A funicular railway stretched up the cliff dating back to the 19th century, testifies the relevance of the town’s economic development in past times. Recently, though, it has gained the world’s attention due to a couple of instances of record-breaking surfing on gigantic waves: the first instance in 2013 by Garrett McNamara (here’s a short tour of the town by the Hawaiian surfer), and the second one, in 2014 by Benjamin Sanchis. There’s bound to be major tourism potential here, if these guys keep breaking records like this. But for now, it’s still a simple carnival-lovin’ small town by the sea.

Nazaré, Sítio, landscape

Pedro & Inês

Mosteiro de Alcobaça, Alcobaça, monastery, coffee, pastry, bell, church, tomb, sarcofagus

Inside the monumental monastery in Alcobaça rest the sarcophagi of Pedro and Inês, the protagonists of a tragic medieval love story – with a Game of Thrones level of gore and treachery!

Pedro, the Crown Prince of Portugal in the 14th century was soon to be married to Constança of Castille. When they first met, Pedro caught a glimpse of one of Constança’s maids: Inês de Castro, a Galician noblewoman with ties to the Castillan court, and soon after, they fell in love for each other.

Pedro was committed to his marriage with Constança of which he had three children. However, Pedro’s and Inês’ love for each other never waned and they kept meeting in secret. Rumors about the affair spread throughout the court and, after Constança died giving birth, the outraged king Afonso exiled Inês – already mother of four of Pedro’s children – to a convent in Coimbra. Pedro was not allowed in, but kept roaming around the walls of the convent, smuggling in love letters.

Seeing the futility of keeping the lovers separated, and fearful of bastard claims to the throne, the king ordered three noblemen to assassinate Inês by decapitating her. An enraged and vengeful Pedro spent years hunting his lover’s assassins down, finally capturing two of them. He executed them in a public display, ripping their hearts out from their bodies.

Legend has it that after being crowned king, Pedro exhumed the corpse of Inês, claiming to have married her in life and forcing the whole court to acknowledge his queen and kiss her hand.

They now rest together in stone for eternity, in the halls of the church of the monastery of Alcobaça.

Mosteiro de Alcobaça, monastery, Alcobaça, kitchen, monument, tiles

It’s a pretty impressive tale of love, hate and betrayal! Impressive as well is the monumental tiled chimney of the kitchen of the monastery! A sight to be seen and an architectural work of art.Mosteiro de Alcobaça, Alcobaça, monastery

Poland sketches #4 Buildings of Warszawa

palace, building, culture, science, Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland, Stalin, monument

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

“Buildings are perhaps the subject that interests me the least, which kinda collides with my base education as an architect. A silent rule that I keep to myself is: sketch that which bores you until it doesn’t bother you anymore! The infamous Palace of Culture and Science was a worthy opponent. It’s 237 meters of concrete nemesis that I enjoyed sketching as much as the Warsawians enjoy it being there. I tried to make the result a little more interesting by rendering two distinct layers – shape and rhythm in line-work and its true scale in color-wash. Sometimes, experiments don’t go as we want them to and the sketchbook is a harsh master on that – it makes us carry our mistakes with us. Specially a hardbound sketchbook.

pavilions, Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland, nightlife, bars

When it’s about representing buildings, I prefer the people approach: interpreting what people make of buildings, as was the case of the Pawilony – concrete prefabs of repeated design that were the origin of a hip spot of the nightlife of Warsaw.  I usually go for details, but between sketching the extravagant interior of any given bar and the regular rhythm of the whole block, I went for the monotonous general picture. Yet another challenge overcome!”

Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland, university, library

Poland sketches #3 Warsawians

Orkiestra z chmielnej, Poland, Warsawa, Warsaw, music, guitar, accordion,

Warsawa is a grey city, but its denizens not so much. The polka tunes played by Orkiestra z Chmielnej invaded the tunnels under one of the enormous soviet avenues, taking advantage of the crowds of people passing by in all directions.

Poland, Warsawa, Warsaw, wódka, patrons

While I expected mostly slavic facial features, the truth is they are as diverse as they come, almost as a testament of the permanently shifting borders of the country. Desired and, at times, abused and invaded by both close and far neighbors along the millenia, Poland, and Warsaw for that matter seems to be in some sort of crossroads of Central Europe. Slavic, nordic and germanic features are prevalent, but one can identify features from almost every corner of Europe here.

Poland, Warsawa, Warsaw, wódka, patrons

In Warszawska, a bar in Śródmieście, the central district of the capital, youngsters flowed in. Some patrons, after noticing being sketched became friendly and engaged in conversation. One of the most communicative was a local video producer and stop-motion artist. The seemingly underage barmaid displayed a quiet jelousness about not being portrayed in a sketch, but soon enough she got what she wanted, although I am unsure whether she enjoyed the result.