There is a local tradition, here in Luz, in Lagos, and for all I know, across the Algarve. This party occurs on 29th August each year.
The ex-pats call it ‘The End Of Summer’. Portuguese locals are shocked by this. They insist that summer does not end until the end of September.
The tradition of the festa is that people from inland towns and villages come to the sea-side, and have a dip in the sea, followed by fireworks. It is a sort of celebratory cleansing.
I was thinking of going down to get some photographs to share, but the event in Luz was scheduled to start at 9pm. That’s nearly an hour after sunset, and my camera does not do good quality shots at night.
The other thing is that the fireworks were scheduled for midnight. I’m on my own at the moment, and I did not fancy spending 3 hours in Luz at that time of night. So I decided to stay in.
I happen to live on an urbanisation that is constructed very strangely in one certain respect. There is a single entry/exit point, which is not unusual. The urbanisation then fans out as it goes inland, and again, this is not unusual. What is odd is that there is one set of rubbish bins, and these are not at the entry/exit point, the logical place to site them. Instead, they are at one of the inland ends of the urbanisation, basically out of the way of 99% of the houses on the estate.
Despite this, lots of people still put their rubbish in the boot of their car, and drive out of their way to get to these remote bins.
The general refuse bin, the one used for leftovers and rotten meat, filled up totally about a fortnight ago. Still the car drivers came, and deposited black after black bag on the pavement. The pile was so big, you could not reach the actual bin itself. As to why the car drivers did not simply take the rubbish to another bin with spare capacity, your guess is as good as mine.
Returning to August 29th, there were lots of loud bangs at 10.40pm, so I thought the fireworks must have started, and I went out onto our upstairs balcony to see what I could see.
And to my amazement, the bangs had nothing to do with celebrating 29th August. It was the refuse workers, who at 10.40pm were out picking up the mountain of general trash that had built up. I can now get back to my daily routine of walking the rubbish across to the bin.
This little tale tells about how August 29th fits into party life here. It also tells you a tiny fact about the Madeleine McCann case. There is no reason to believe that all of the dumpsters were emptied on a daily basis, or anything close to it, in May 2007. Gonçalo Amaral’s check on the 188 bins of Luz is actually a little bit better than it appears at first sight.