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Buried in Portugal

I want to take a small side road, but a white van is just ahead of me. He stops at the beginning, blocking everyone (not such a problem, noone there but me) who wants to get in and out. I wait patiently for him to continue, but after a few minutes my patience runs out and I press my horn.

(The Citroen has a very modest horn.) What caught that man’s attention? A taped announcement of the death of someone I don’t know, but he probably does. Did.

And when that person will be buried

It’s a common thing, you even see it in a town like Soure. A printed A4 with a photo and an obituary. Sometimes brotherly next to an announcement of a village festival. It is a normal way of letting your fellow human beings know that so-and-so is no longer here. And if you are on time, you can attend the funeral. But then you have to be quick.

The first time we came into contact with this was when the youngest son of the previous owner died. Three months after we moved into our village. The previous owner – his father – had already died in the 1980s, and his heirs were in no hurry to sell the property. The youngest son had continued to live there, with plans to possibly renovate the termas, but since he was struggling with his health (and needed quite a bit of wine to do so), that didn’t work out well. In short, he was an epicurean in his own charming way.

The question was whether he could stay for the time being

until another place of residence could be found for him. He was apparently the black sheep of the family, but he was supported by them. He found his place of residence himself, completely independently of his family, and I hope that he now eats porridge with a golden spoon, according to good Catholic custom, and sings along with the angels, because despite his drinking, he was a very modest and meek man.

His death was unexpected, and happened around Christmas. Bad timing, you might say, everyone is busy with the festivities, but that was certainly not the only reason that he was buried the next day. In warm countries it has traditionally been common for this to happen very quickly; the heat and the lack of cooling play a major role in this.

The church in the adjacent village was packed; we had to join the congregation who had to remain outside due to lack of space. After all, it was the son of an Important Man – Dom Henriques Foja de Oliveira – after whom the street was named. Dom Henriques owned not only the Termas da Azenha, but also a considerable number of hectares of rice field, the rice mill, and the vineyards on the hill opposite the termas.

From the church there was a procession to the cemetery in Vinha da Rainha, where he would be buried

Quite a walk, certainly at a respectful pace.

The priest blessed the grave. Of course he went into such a little house, being a member of an important family. Then came a sermon that we didn’t understand at the time. And we were not at the front, as you can imagine, because although we were the new owners of the village of Termas-da-Azenha, we were also strange foreign people.

At that time, foreigners were still quite exotic, also for other foreigners in Portugal. They even came from far and wide to see which other fellow countrymen had joined. Those times have clearly changed.

There is now a significant group of portuguese who want Portugal back, all foreigners out (except the rich ones), and back to the good old days with clear norms and values, and no corruption. The latter is a joke by the way, because in the good old days cronyism was completely normal, and the elite had a say in everything.

But let’s bury that for next time …


We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal.

A big step, especially with two small children.

We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday houses, rooms and a campsite.

You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation

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