Where the firemen go for coffee….

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(Unusual house in Castro Verde. It was the talk of the town in the 1900’s because of the creative use of the latest building material – cement)

It’s been raining here for a couple of days. I can see the birds digging for worms in the damp grass. They seem very excited – a feast. After being stuck inside all day yesterday I was excited myself to get out of Ruby this afternoon. I put on my coat and went on a photo walk. We’re in a town called Castro Verde, about an hour from Beja. Because of this town I have learned two more Portuguese words: Castro means castle and Verde means green. I can tell you it came in very handy when I was asking for green tea (tea is Chá, like they say in Cork!)

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(I love the streetscapes in Portuguese towns but I can’t seem to reproduce what I see in a photo)

There’s lots of art in the environment pieces around the town and as I was taking photos of one I saw the fire station… One day when we were out walking in Beja we passed a cafe and I was just about to step inside when I noticed the name Cafe de Bombeiro. We thought Bombeiro meant Fire Station and sure enough the cafe was part of the fire station. So we didn’t go in… says I, must be for the firemen. But then today I spotted another Cafe de Bombeiro – in a fire station too. Why are there cafes at the Fire Stations and do I have to be a Fireman to go in?

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(See the flowering tree?)

I thought about the firemen for a while but then the rain came back and I went back to Ruby. Via the supermarket. It’s always interesting to look at the unusual food on the shelves and in the fridges. I’ve been looking for something for a week now and each new supermarket I go into I search it out. I’m searching for Milton, the stuff you use to sterilise babies’ bottles. It’s a mild bleach and I was using it to keep the grey water tank (washing up water) smelling lovely. The bottle was nearly empty when we left and now it’s all gone, so I’ve been searching. Today, as usual, I started looking in the baby section but then I went to the cleaning section where I spotted the toilet bleach products and that’s when I wondered…

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(This area is the bread basket of Portugal – this is one of the art in the environment pieces)

Why did I put bleach in my babies’ bottles? Of course everyone did it. It was recommended. I got free samples. Hmm… It’s funny what we don’t notice about the things we do every day, the things we use every day, the things we see every day. Standing in this Portuguese supermarket the effort to make sense of the words and the products and the aisles has shaken my beliefs. A cafe full of fireman might be just what I need.

Portugal is making me doubt my reality, Mairead.