Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Joao Filipe Osorio de Menezes Pitta

The Count of Praia Grande and His Court met ...

A sunset in Praia Grande, waiting for the Green Ray... Posted by Picasa

As this blog is also something of a journal, depicting the day-to-day main activities of this blogger of yours, I cannot fail to mention the last weekend in Praia Grande. Very difficult to put into words (how to describe the Glastonbury-like communion feeling when the sun is about to set in the Atlantic and we are all waiting for the one in a trillion chance to witness the Green Ray?). The Praia (as we all say, for short) is about a tribal bond, plenty of booze and a weird and beautiful ecosystem.
What are the little square boxes of the check-list, to tick whenever one returns to the Praia after an enforced separation? The mothering cliff in the end of the beach? Tick. The red-to-yellow flag on the bathing areas poles? Tick. The foaming roaring ocean, with or without courageous surfers? Tick. The poor uniformed sod who tries to prevent parking outside authorized spaces? Tick. The smiling and gloriously inefficient waiters at the "by-appointment" restaurants, waving at us? Tick. The un-Portuguese sky with charges of light brigades of clouds, a threatening halo of mist on the ege of the horizon, and a general sense of weather instability? Tick. The dinosaur fossil steps immortalized in stone ? To tick later. The incredibly beautiful faces of young flowering girls? To keep on ticking. The freshness of the coastal seabass, of the reddish soft crab or of the strangely phalic barnacles? To tick when meal time comes. The ravages of Time, and salt, and white nights on the faces of our Friends? Never to tick. The overwhelming nostalgic taste of Lost Youth? Unavoidable tick.
One's own golden generation of hippie-ish beach boys is approaching the time it will have to gracefully bow out and hand over its place to a new unelected Board. Or, rather, a Court. Our tribal Praia has a near feudal tradition and is neither a kingdom or a principality but an Earldom. The Count of Praia Grande is an honourary title, legitimized by blueblood and by the tacit acceptance of his prominence by us the Barons of the Good Life who until recently could muster the admiration of the Knights-Surfers, and of part of the suntanned female population.
The Count had brought a wild boar from the North, in honour of Lou Parrot, the Jester, the Baron with an unforgiving awkward cannabis-like unfocused humour who was birthdaying this very weekend. As good as a pretext to gather the Court. Some Ladies were present, including Saint Magdalene and a couple of non-Praia Witnesses. Youngblood Baronets were allowed at the High Table, as part of their graduation into power. One of them contributed with an awesome seafood soup, from "navalheiras" (Macropipus prestandrea) , a elongated cockle clam with a knife-box shape (a macho knife is called 'navalha). But all made the time-honored biggest contribution of all. They came armed with Stories, not to lay down as offers, but as precious proofs of their right to be there.
The menu was hyper-deepfried minuscule saurel, we call "Little Joaquins" (we eat the entire 2-inches long fish, head and tail finn and all); followed by the above mentioned wholesome sea soup; followed by the roasted boar served with a fried rice cooked by Philomena. The wines were rich and abundant.. the sunset glorious .. the Stories flowing.
Most of the Stories are drunkenness-related? So what? What about the best anecdotes of the Russian classics, aren't they all cognac (Tolstoy) or vodka (Dostoevsky)-related? Most of it is spoilt-child preppie boys stuff? And your point is? Haven't we all delighted with TeddyBear-carrying Oxford students whereabouts? Not really working outside the non-verbal enchanted aura? For sure.
After the ending bottle(s) of Famous Grouse and the final pyrotechnics of story-telling we all went our ways, journeying into the night. Happy that Praia's magic still marches on. (The Witnesses' smiles attested to it) . And the Court understood that the upcoming generations were almost ready to claim their inheritance.
How many Summers are left before accepting that silver hair and softer bellies will dislodge us, Barons, of our sexual charisma-related prominence? I'll have to ask the Count.

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