And so I am in Tavira. It is a little tuna-fishing port on the eastern extremity of the Algarve, southern Portugal. When I say tuna-fishing I mean it used to be tuna-fishing, now the tunny have gone and the old men just sit around smoking cheroots and drinking pingados in the sun. The hot, hot sun.
I like Tavira. It's very pretty in a rough-house way, tranquil and authentic, with just a few tourists. It has intriguing little peculiarities, too. The ochre slate roofs are curved at the ends like the retrousse nose of a twenties starlet - apprently this is the Moorish influence. In the evening, if you stand on the Roman bridge, you can watch men wading the torpid cressy river, carrying pans. I have no idea why.
But most of all I like Tavira for its bittersweet Mediterranean melancholy, that Giorgio di Chirico feeling made up of empty squares and collonades, of statues to unknown physicians, of the scent of fallen lemons, of too much coffee, of laughing girls behind shuttered windows, and, most importantly, of sun-drenched and deserted railway stations where you can hear people coughing but can't see them.
Yes, I like this feeling. It makes me wonder whether heaven might be like this, or hell. As the swallows wheel against an apricot sky, I too can feel the shadows steal across the plazas of my heart. Tonight, the mosquitoes are whining. The smell of the empty tuna factory drifts across the salt pans. And somewhere a mosque crumbles into dust, and bougainvillea grows in its place.
Oh yes. I have been feeling quite strange, of late. And also. I have been reading. The great Portugese poet Fernando Pessoa. Who talks. A bit. Like this.