Logbook I Day 11 I How to squat a river


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An oasis within a cave.

I think we have already said how paradisiacal the place where Mr. José Amaral has his garden is.

 

At first glance, nobody would notice it: in the suburb of Queluz de Baixo (suburb’s suburb, therefore), hidden behind cheap construction buildings of the 1990s, practically below the endemic IC19 road, lost in a deep valley and where the sun can only sneak in.

To get there, you have to descend a slope that is practically steep, very carefully, in order to not slip on the black limestone stones, worn by use and time. The barking dogs in dogs cellars on the slopes that line the steep descent tell us that we are approaching another universe, a new reality: one in which the nasturtiums of the 90’s cease to be seen and the IC19 ceases to be heard; a new reality painted green, green, green, with a soundtrack made of wind blowing in the leaves of the trees, the chirping of birds and, in the cradle, the noise of Jamor. “It’s like an oasis inside a cave,” someone passing by poetically described.

 

 

 

The interview with Mr. Jose ran beautifully, as expected. Talking is not a problem for that good man, and, clinging to his rod, almost without a question asked, there he told us everything: the story of his life, the story of his garden and the story of his life in his garden.

He also introduced us to one of his neighbours, Mr. Rui Oliveira, a Mozambican, living in Portugal for almost 30 years. How did it stop there? He explained: he lived in Pendão, in Queluz, and he was happy, but he felt that he lacked something in his life. It was his son who gave him the hint, “What if we squat a vegetable garden?” Being said, they invested in tools, they cleared the terrain of the invading whistles, set up beds, installed a plumbing system down to the river, watered and built a house, made of reused wood, to support the garden. Today they have a beautiful squatted garden. So beautiful that in the meantime Mr. Rui went to live on the other bank [of Tagus River], in Quinta do Conde, and he feels sad to leave it. He says that, more than being able to have good and cheap food (and there he has everything, among cabbages, lettuces, chayotes, vines, medlars, fig trees, etc), what gives one pleasure is to see things grow and give…

 

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