A Land Of Dust And Mud

This little movie is intended to remind me of both good and bad times I spent in a small coast town in Angola, Africa, called SUMBE, state of Kwanza Sul.

I went there several times to teach in a technical school, where I met very nice kids and teachers who did their best to make me feel home. I’m eternally grateful to all of them…

Angola is a former Portuguese territory that got its independence in 1975[1]. Unfortunately for them, a much worse war than the one hold for 13 years (1961-1974) with Portugal has started almost right after independence. Because no common commitment was then possible between political parties, MPLA, UNITA and FNLA, a civil war took place which lasted 27 years (1975-2002) and ended with the victory of MPLA and its allies USSR (Soviet Union) and Cuba.

Civil war in Angola was pretty much devastating what is making reconstruction of the country a slow and painful process, causing daily suffering to a population still very little educated, with little access to medical care and still living in towns with none or very little basic infra-structures.

May SUMBE be pulled out of all dust and mud…

  1. September 17th is a national holiday to celebrate the Agostinho Neto’s Day, first president of Angola.

So much far away from everything…

Really everything… Space and time sometimes are magnitudes mixed up in phrases more or less philosophic. But even old philosophy is far away. Everything can be anything, just depending on many things. Too many, sometimes. The young girl said “Happiness for me is to enjoy an ice-cream in a sunny and hot day in summer”. Wow! So many years thinking that happiness was much beyond an ice-cream. Believing that happiness was such a complex thing, so much difficult to achieve. No, it seems not to be. It seems that happiness is so much available, so much close to our fingers. To our tongue. To our basic senses. Can happiness be resolved this easy: you just need to be capable of buying an ice-cream in a sunny hot day in summer and enjoy it? It’s good to be young but you’re still so much far away from everything…

What can be one’s life without goals? Almost nothing or almost very little. I’ve been teaching this imperative need of defining goals in life to young people, either they were my subordinates or, more recently, my pupils. Simply said, life is easily burden when we’re walking towards some end line. Things like “finishing school”, “getting married” or “getting a job promotion” are the regular goals, the partial end lines, the milestones nobody has to care about much because they’re almost a default in our lives. So easy, so automatic. But, what if you successfully manage to achieve all that, you’re happy with it but suddenly you wake up in the morning and find out that your pot of goals is empty? If you have some time to think about it you might realize that the pot is empty either because you just missed any refill or because you really are not able to define or redefine your goals. It might be caused by a typical crisis already known by the individual or collective mind specialists or it might be something worse. Much worse! Try to avoid the much worse. You won’t be that much happy if so…

Being in love with someone is a good thing in one’s life. Everyone should try to fall in (deep) love at least once in life. A passion, a truly passion should be. Most people I have met fear about falling in love. “I don’t want to get hurt”, they say. Those are the ones I classify as weak minds wandering here and there to the flavor of the life’s waving. Those are the ones I am not interested in. However, those are the ones I have met. More often than I’d like to. I miss the others, the ones I’d like to meet and let them be part of my life because they would be the ones bringing to it some salt and pepper, some vibrations and oscillations. Yes, those variations are what I am really seeking ever since. A break to the routine. A cut with the predictable. A reason to increase up the levels of adrenalin in my body. All this, because I really want to feel, to vibrate, to pulse according to the beat of my starving mind. I do need to be filled up with feelings telling me I’m not away from everything. Feelings I’m feeling not any longer…

Age is a problem. Always has been. Always it will be. It shouldn’t be. Age should not be an issue. Yet, age is a drive in. A drive out. A more than everything. Age is a must be. Age is before everything else. Age is the most. For good, for evil. For you. Against you. Age is the power of mind, above the power of love. Is it? It seems so. Does looking behind bring me a feeling of emptiness? Does looking forward bring me no different result? Yes? I’m stuck then. As much stuck as an Intel processor lost in the middle of uncontrollable bits and bytes riding up and down in infinite golden double-layer buses. Now what? Simple. Reset! It works sometimes. Not always, unfortunately. Yep, reset operations might fail once in a while. That’s true, reset is not an unfailing solution. And then I’m still away from everything. But I no longer have time to retry, to redo, to reformulate…[1]

Parenting is something! A man will never experiment motherhood, surely not, but why should he? Let’s leave every role to its actor. Any feelings about a boy or a girl whose life has started in you are such an unique thing. No need to be a mother to feel parenthood to its maximum extent. No need to have kept a life inside you to deeply feel something when you stare at your son or your daughter for long minutes, in silence. Staring at those creations while recognizing those slight signs in their skin, their hair, their eyes. Signs which you know very well they are a fair copy of the very same signs you have in the very same part of your own body. Parenting is a relative behavior. It’s why one has to live parenthood on his own, doing and learning. Fast, concisely, precisely but always prepared to fail. On behalf of your happiness, through the happiness of your creations. I’m myself loving them, my way, in a silent mode. With no feedback. With some misinterpretations, perhaps. But they are mine. Far away, though…

Old stones, worn out by time, annoy me pretty much to death. I prefer people! What they are. How they are. What they want to be turned to. The way they look at things. What things. What for. The way they look at me. What for. Her sweet voice when she says “I am a little girl” breaks me all down. For a short while, fortunately for my mind sake. That phrase really disturbs me, in some moments, and said with that her mellowed voice makes it echoing all the time in my ears. She says it kind as she was complaining about my insensibility before her age. “You squeeze me!”[2], she also says. She doesn’t know I always do it with everybody I get involved with. Then, when I reply “easy solution, just give a step back and you’ll be free”, it is as the sky would fall down on her head. That’s me! The whole me without getting off or putting on. That’s it, I never go after who gives a step away from me. Never. Ever! “You quit too easy”, said once the trainer of a behavior training course I was part of some years ago. “You require too much from people”, a diagnosis issued many times by my ex-wife. My goodness, here and now, in this land of dust and mud, I’ve just realized how much I haven’t changed. Not just a single little bit! My purgatory is not working, though. So far away from…[3]

A man can cry. Except when he no longer owns more tears at all…

  1. Paragraph written while listening to Lisa Gerrard, “I’m your shadow”…
  2. In Portuguese, “Apertas-me!”.
  3. Paragraph written while listening to Cowboy Junkies, “Powderfinger”…

Vixé Maínha…

There are moments on what even the ones up there come pretty much LÖW…

Vixé Maínha

The “ones up there” refer to the Christ the Redeemer (statue)[1] in Rio de Janeiro. LÖW refers of course to the football German squad’s coach, Mr Joachim Löw (or Loew). The phrase in the balloon is in Portuguese from Brazil. A street Portuguese language, let’s say, because it’s written with mistakes. “Vixé Maínha”[2] is a very much Brazilian expression, from Bahia, which I am not able to translate. This popular expression is used for situations of extreme astonishment, confusion. The rest of the phrase could be roughly translated to “Oh Father, what wrong have I done to you?”. All this is just a silly joke from a Portuguese guy to all highly depressed Brazilians after the crash of their football squad against Germany. No hard feelings, not even Klose[3]! Just a little revenge for the millions of nasty jokes made along decades by Brazilians about Portuguese people.

May the gods be with Brazil, a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown…

  1. In Portuguese said Cristo Redentor or, also called by some people, “Cristo Rei”.
  2. I guess that the original phrase was “Virgem Mãe” or in English, “Virgin Mother”. In Portuguese, very often some words get a derivation by adding the suffix “inha” to original ones, probably to make them “sentimentally” softer. So, Virgem Mãe came to Virgem Mãezinha. After that, because the people in Brazil transform the words’ orthography due to the local accent or due to people’s illiteracy/ignorance, the expression came down to “Vixé Maínha”.
  3. A reference to the German football player Miroslav Klose who lived in this historical match the happiness of surpassing the Brazilian player Ronaldo’s previous record of 15 World Cup goals.

Porto elected best European destination 2014

Porto is exceptional. In more ways than one. Elected Best European Destination 2014 by the european citizens, Porto, the “Cidade Invicta” (unvanquished city) is history, is architecture, culture, gastronomy, trade, encounters and discoveries.

Porto has all the charm of towns which happily cohabit with their river. You can stroll along the River Douro (river of gold) in the Ribeira, fly over it by helicopter or discover Porto ‘s architecture, its amazing landscapes and magnificent bridges by taking a cruise on this majestic river. Porto is also a sea city and in the briefest of time a tram will bring you to Foz do Douro’s gentle beaches face to face with the Atlantic.

Porto knows how to make you feel welcome; very likely it will conquer your heart and leave a long lasting impression. You will find it hard to leave.

May the gods be with the Unvanquished City…

Pathetic Uncle Sam

No comments…[1]

  1. USA squad was massacred by the Belgian team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup but the score (Belgium 2-1 USA) can’t show that due to an inspiring and surely unrepeatable performance of the goalkeeper Tim Howard. Let’s take this as US-American humor on this famous July 4th, The Independence Day!

Bye, Bye Portugal

I would say that worse than getting beaten by the powerful German football squad (we are used to that) is a tie with an amateur football squad, USA, coached by a former German player (Jürgen Klinsmann) who, in his time, was a fairly good player but not that much. What happened in this USA 2-2 Portugal match?

From the Portuguese side, I just saw ghosts or zombies. The ghost of an excellent João Moutinho who was one of the best mid-fielders playing in Europe. The ghost of Cristiano Ronaldo who is the best in the world but he lost here his last chance of winning something for his national team. Finally, a couple of zombies desperately struggling to keep an erected position during the stressing ninety minutes, so huge was the evident physical and psychological fatigue shown by the major part of our players. Nani, who seems to be prematurely giving the last steps in his career, showed a little bit of the magics he was able to make happen a couple of years ago. But… It was a couple of years ago! And Paulo Bento was the little cherry on the top of the cake: stubborn like hell, he kept is boring 4x3x3 exactly with same players he always uses, even seeing his team being massacred on its left wing, an area where it should be playing the best left-back and left-winger in the world, Fábio Coentrão, already back in Portugal due to an unexplainable injury[1].

From the American side? Nothing special. Just a squad of rich and spoiled kids playing a game like they have been taught by a foreigner coach. The interesting part is the fact of USA playing nowadays a style of football the mighty Germany used to play a decade ago. It worked then, it still works today. Mainly with tired and demotivated teams like the actual Portuguese one. The football played by USA, which they stubbornly still insist on calling soccer, it’s still something we should not take seriously…

Anyhow, see you in four years, boys[2]

  1. As much unexplainable as the other nine or ten cases in our squad. I would say our squad was more kind of an infirmary than a football team!
  2. They still have a mathematical chance but who said that mathematics rules football?

Exporting Football Coaching

Although Portugal squad has never won any UEFA or FIFA competition, the world already knows a couple of Portuguese football coaches who have no fear at all of traveling to far, far away lands in order to lead local teams and make them achieve better results.

The most famous is, with no doubt, José Mourinho due to his football and leadership skills but also to his always polemic personality. Other coaches are much less world wide known but their work is very much appreciated as well. To give you an idea, by September 2011 there was twenty four (24) Portuguese expatriated coaches! The scenario was as follows[1]:

  • Amado Ferreira — Benfica de Luanda, ANGOLA
  • André Villas-Boas — Chelsea, ENGLAND
  • António Caldas — Inter Luanda, ANGOLA
  • Carlos Azenha — Al Sharjah, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
  • Carlos Carvalhal — Besiktas, TURKEY
  • Carlos Manuel — 1º de Agosto, ANGOLA
  • Carlos Queiroz — (national squad), IRAN
  • Eurico Gomes — Al Raed, SAUDI ARABIA
  • Fernando Santos — (national squad), GREECE
  • Henrique Calisto — Muang Thong Utd, VIETNAM
  • Jaime Pacheco — Beijing Guoan, CHINA
  • Jesualdo Ferreira — Panathinaikos, GREECE
  • Jorge Costa — Cluj, ROMANIA
  • José Couceiro — Lokomotiv Moscovo, RUSSIA
  • José Dinis — ASA, ANGOLA
  • José Mourinho — Real Madrid, SPAIN
  • João Alves — Servette, SWITZERLAND
  • Luis Aires — Recreativo Cáala, ANGOLA
  • Manuel Barbosa — Shandong, CHINA
  • Manuel José — Al Ahly, EGYPT
  • Nelo Vingada — Dalian Shide, CHINA
  • Paulo Duarte — (national squad), BURKINA FASO
  • Paulo Sousa — Videoton, HUNGARY
  • Paulo Sérgio — Hearts, SCOTLAND

Nice, isn’t it? Portugal is a country of emigration lovers and football couldn’t escape to that! For some reason there is three (3) coaches making part of this running 2014 FIFA World Cup.

From left to right:

May the gods be with all of them…

  1. Due to the normal dance of football coaches and players some of the coaches may not be anymore training the mentioned teams.

Bye, Bye England

Stronger than me! What? My support to every team playing against England. Why? Maybe historical reasons? Maybe because every time I visited England they made me feel I was not welcome? I don’t know! Maybe because England owns a natural attribute of bringing up the worst from each of us, the foreigners? Maybe because I am totally convinced that English monarchy is one of the ridiculous things human beings have ever invented? Maybe because they drive on the left side of roads and their cars have the steer wheel mounted on the right side? Maybe because they named my hometown as Oporto and not Porto as it should be? Maybe because their police look nonsense searching Madeleine McCann’s body in the wastelands in Algarve[1]? Maybe…

Anyhow, see you in four years, boys[2]

  1. Do they always spend all this money for every disappeared English person?
  2. They still have a mathematical chance but who said that mathematics rules football?