One of Babel members has been in Portugal for 6 months. Before new year, it is time to reflect and list 11 things that Portugal has taught and shown to the extranzeiro. The times have been beautiful, romantic, sometimes tough and rough.
It was no suprise that Babel dedicated one show for this mentality or feeling that originates from Portugal. ( Check it out at: http://www.mixcloud.com/Babel_RUC/saudade-estonians_and_a-german-trying-to-understand-it/)

No matter from what country one is, those lonely, reminiscing feelings, vivid memory museums come to life with everyone. They all witness the same loneliness, we wrote about at:http://babelruc.blogspot.com/2013/10/saudade-one-estonian-trying-to-explain.html
At the same time, there is not any feeling comparable with saudade. Once in Portugal, always familiar with saudade, always with saudade.

There is no way that one can ignore football-mania in Portugal. This season is very special in Portuguese football, since Benfica and Porto are not the only teams competing for title. Sporting, a team that finished last season seventh, is right now leading the league.

This post´ author was keen on starting to support Sporting after seeing their marvelous game with Benfica( 1-1). He was also lucky to witness Academica´s home win against Porto. Let´s hope that Fooorzaaa Sporting or Aaa Br-iosa chants can help both teams to make this league more entertaining. The league is unpredictable and this unpredictability fills more stadiums, puts more moustache-wearing locals to tascas, nervously biting their trohmozus or smoking cigarettes. When it comes to women, local senhoritas are not so active as Spanish counterparts. However, this post´ author was lucky to see amazing brunette, dressed in green at the Academica stadium, screaming endlessly SPORTING, and when referee made a mistake, fooodas. Her dad did not mind her contradictory behaviour, since it was for the love of the football.

Finally, even though the country is struck by financial crisis, Ronaldo gave us something to celebrate. We are not sure, but it looks that senhor Ronaldo brings best footballer´s award back to Tuga, so parabens! Parabens Portugal!

There is nothing more sexier than to see local women dressed in Harry Potter capes. ( Needs to be mentioned again that those capes gave inspiration to J.K Rowland, while she was a teacher in Porto) All those traditions and rituals are nice, the black capas give university campus some kind of touch of mystery.

At the same time, all those mass drinkings at the end of corteizo, fucked up girls vomiting in front of nice churces, celebrations while listening to shitty music, make one wonder if our generation has ruined the tradition. Another question is the egoitism that lies to those who wear capas. As one of Babel friends described: „ Once I saw one guy with cape telling caloiro things to do, even mocking and humiliating it. He seemed to act like father, but they were more or less the same age. They were both babies.“

At the same time the one that goes against Praxe is risking to be without friends. Sometimes he/she is not even considered university student.

As an extranjeiro I rather support anti-praxism, ´cause all those troopers who can cut your hair whenever they want, massochism examples by the older students by forcing disgusting things for the sake of feeling her or his power makes me question its positive essence. Also, all those mass singings and mass marching makes one wonder is at an army or a brainwash in order to kill individuality?

If everything has to be the same and creativity, free will and own oppinions are killed by centuries old tradition, will there be any free-minded, independent individuals?

Finally, praxism should be questioned, when concerning what happened in Praia do Meco. Even though those 5 people died rather because of the rough seas, there still was praxar involved?
First, the post author thought that he was lucky to have met great people. But when I remininsce over this 6-month period and consider all the people - from bus drivers to restaurant keepers, shop assistants, people from the streets- I can not remember any negative moments. All those invitations for dinners and gifts from local people make them one of the hospitable people in the world. Moreover, I witnessed many times, when people with financial difficulties shared their last cigarettes, meal, dinner or drink, never even thinking of leaving the stuff for their own. Even if the country is struggling, portuguese have never forgotten what it means to be a human. Portuguese never lose their helpful, understanding and kind soul. Portiuguese thought that among many virtues – honesty, integrity and respect – one should always be kind. One should always be like Jesus!

Here, I would like to thank personally Carlos, Rui, Emmanuel,Renan, Ana, Moises, Breno, Andrej ( even though you are not portuguese, you acted like one)

    When being homesick or just having big saudade, one can find that writing letters ( or recieving them) can be an really soulful and grateful activity. Even though it sounds like 17th century, Babel likes to recommend this long forgotten activity. Why not to share your soul, honesty, life on paper, in the lonely nights and suprise your beloved ones with such gift? Writing letters can be a means of making your beloved ones part of your life, also writing to them can bring good feelings and all the responded letters can be used support your passions, take away your loneliness and make you grateful in foreign country.


    If someone truly would like to write a letter, the best way to get writing inspiration is from Fernando Pessoa. Even though he is considered literary scizophrenic and was a opium junkie, his words are truly amazing. Mr Pessoa is one of the best examples of portuguese culture, even if his dark, honest words could become ingredient of your blood, meaning that when grabing „ A Book of Disquiet“ at night 4. AM, you definetly can not sleep anymore. Pessoa taught us how to write with honesty, how dreams might not come true; made sure that artists are always lonely, and sometimes dreaming and imagination can give more than everyday, mundane life.
One of the great examples of portuguese culture and music. Dead Combo has distinctive sound, mixing fado elements and portuguese guitar with blues. It is one of the best portuguese blues/folklore band, having received 3 times title of  " Record of the year" and the " Record of the Decade". Three of the Dead Combo´ s song have reached top 10 in Itunes North-America charts.



Already the portuguese stereotype says that all the portuguese men are with moustache. Even the past time spanish lover told that her experience with portuguese girls has taught her that even the portuguese girls wear then, Well, she was wrong, she was stupid and jealous of neighbouring countries chicas, who are much more beautiful.

It is no problem to go a year without having a haircut in Portugal, since you might see everyday similar wild hippies or Jesuses walking round. In Estonia you could never wear such hippie hair in offices, or be unshaven for many months, but in Portugal, or at least in Coimbra, hairiness fits perfectly to the surrounding.

A person who has never went to Talasnal schist villages or never seen Bussaco palace, has not used the maximum potential of Coimbra. Coimbra speaks to your soul, and beauty is part of soul. Even if you are idiot, ignorant douchebag or just random jerk, those previously mentioned places will definitely awaken your ( or even better) enhance your sense of beauty.

Personally I found that bucket list was a big helper in order to find inspiration or activities in Portugal. It helped to spend the time more purposedly. Next to jumping from Pedro and Ines bridge, seeing Sporting´s and Academica´s game, I managed to fill many other things from my list, like making a hiphop show with Babel, writing 5 letters to friends and family and kiss brazilian girl. 

Check the movie trailer at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc3mkG21ob4

Nothing else to add. One just has to witness and see it on his/her own. Or the bystander could admire it with the knowledge that this university radio has been on air more or less 24/7 for 27 years. Needs to be mentioned that the radio is managed by students and on voluntary basis. What an example of passion!


The fact that 20 per cent of Porto´s downtown is filled with abandoned houses and fact that Lisboa has 5000 empty houses, give enormous potential to squatting. Maybe, our hometown, Coimbra has even more potential, since it has aproximately 11 000 empty houses. ( check interesting article explaining the reasons behind so many empty houses and laws concerning the issue at: http://babelruc.blogspot.pt/2013/12/abandoned-houses-in-coimbra.html 

Also check interesting photomaterial about abandoned places in Portugal at:



Abandoned houses in Coimbra

An old university from the 16th century, precious buildings, old traditions… This is one of the first impressions one can have of Coimbra. Students in Harry Potter like cloaks, the Estudantinas singing traditional songs…
And yet, there is something bizarre when one arrives in Coimbra, as visible as all this harmonic image: next to the old and precious buildings, entire streets with broken windows, destroyed walls, locked doors and abandoned cats climbing out of some fissures: vacant, deserted houses.
And indeed, this little town with its barely 143.000 inhabitants counts 11.740 abandoned houses, according to the latest information of the Câmara Municipal Coimbra, based upon statistics from 2011. Since then, the situation has probably become worse, with the growing problems of the crisis.
But what about all those people who used to live there?

There are no homeless people on Coimbra’s streets, no beggars, no visible poverty. The only observable things are the ruins of a once flourishing society. What happened?­­­­­­­­­

Of course, there is the Portuguese’s quality of life, a high rate of unemployment and  diminshed wealth, not enough money to pay the rent – obviously, this problem has gone worse with the crisis. But the crisis only made the problem become even more visible, even though it had boiled like that for many decades, explains Francisco Queirós, councilor of Coimbra.

In fact, the city center is not attractive anymore for most of Coimbra’s inhabitants, since the buildings there have not been renovated for a long time and do not correspond to the people’s demands anymore.  When walking around in the city centre from 21 to midnight,   one can find oneself totally alone. Maybe not totally alone, you still have tomcats, echoes of fado houses, sad winds blowing through empty houses. Usually it only livens up at Tuesdays and Thursdays when students usually like to party. Them and their jolly singing,  bottles shared and city centre for few hours does not look lonely and sad.

The great majority of the apartments have extremely bad isolation and no heating. During the winter months, there is a lot of humidity inside, and the cold is a constant problem. The bad isolation also will let you hear every little noise from the street, also during nighttime. In some houses in the Baixa of Coimbra, “the bathrooms are not even belonging to the 21st century”, says Queirós. Under these conditions, the population migrates to the city’s suburbs. Obviously, one prefers a recently built house to one that is already 60 or 70 years old. But why are the old houses kept in such a bad estate?

In some cases there are very rich people who own 10, 20 or even 30 houses here in Coimbra, especially in the Baixa or in the historical center, and they just leave their houses there, and the Câmara can’t make the renovations, because they are owned by someone else.”
The IMI (Imposto municipal imovéis: a municipal tax that every owner pays for his house/s) has to be paid as far as trimestraly, if a house is empty for over a year. However, corruption or cheating hinder this law to be applied as it should.               
In contrast, poor house owners who have interest in renovating their house in order to rent it, don’t have the means to do so.  “But there are also a lot of people who inherited houses from their grand-parents for example, and who don’t have money”, explains Queirós: “If someone constructed a house, a hundred years ago, the heirs are the children, then the grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren, which means that a house is owned by twenty or thirty heirs and this is very difficult: who will take care of the house, if it has so many owners?”                                                                   

Another aspect that Queirós points out, are the big commercial shopping centers, such as Continente or Forum: “This almost killed the traditional commerce”, he says. Indeed, a lot of little stores, especially in the Baixa, had to close for people preferred big supermarkets and went to live next to them, in Coimbra’s periphery. This ends up in a vicious circle. The centre is less animated, and gets hence even more unattractive, which doesn’t give a chance to the little shops to survive.
So much for the structural problems in general. But the crisis does make a difference to it. Francisco Queirós calls it the “new poverty”. Meanwhile the traditional poverty continues existing, there are now new parts of the society who get poor: individuals who have a very high academic degree, who have a PhD for example, and who remain unemployed and poor. Elderly people get less retirement pension and lose their belongings, young people can hardly pay their studies and will have enormous difficulties to once earn their own money. It has become a frequent situation that two or three generations live under the same roof, because they cannot pay the rents anymore. Nine or ten persons living in a flat with barely two rooms.
The new poverty is a hidden poverty: the affected ones feel ashamed and would not dare to show their neediness. For politicians, this is rather convenient. They do know about this situation – it concerns the whole country, in fact, and not only Coimbra – but hidden as it is, there is no direct urge to do something about it. Meanwhile, the European Union keeps on prescribing austerity.
Francisco Queirós has a big folder on his desk. It contains requests for dwelling from about 500 families in Coimbra. They are not homeless yet, but living in the described situation, or in completely degraded houses, or else, paying their rents making debts. “The big majority of these people are families with single parents, that is to say, for example, a woman, 35-40 years old, with two children. This is the most frequent case.” Francisco Queirós has a concerned look talking about this folder. “We these 500 requests for a home, to whom we cannot give an answer”, he says. Various programs for rehabilitation of abandoned houses have been cut. The Municipality of Coimbra owns about 1000 houses that could be rehabilitated, but gets no financial support to do so.
While entire families are waiting and hoping for a home, Coimbra’s city center remains abandoned and empty. 



I was feeling mixed emotions, when train gradually departed from the Coimbra station. I could see the reflection of my cousin´s face mirroring from its window. He was heartbroken, his long face and crying eyes showing it. At the same time he kept his composure, this tall, young and strong gentleman. Of course it was difficult for him. It was his break - up not a honeymoon trip. Even worse, the „ breaker“ was there.
The lovely, cute and caring miss Sunshine. A true hippie soul, who could accomplish something meaningful in this evil world. A woman I could consider my sister, I thought while I looked at her ginger hair, pancake cheeks and utter happiness. Before their arrival from Spain I naively believed that I could fix their problem with my magical words but time had did its thing. My theory that love is a chemical reaction, that lasts between the brain for 1,5 years, was getting a new example. Something was forever gone.

My cousin went to break up with my sister in San Sebastian, where the girl had started Erasmus. Me and my cousin blamed the „ Erasmus euphoria“, the naive gratitude, love and joy for their break up but the girl did not agree. We thought that new countries can mess up girls heads. It even can mess up men´s mind. I still reminiscence my naiveness and euphoria in Cyprus where I did my Erasmus exchange studies. Every new person, boring or typical randomness was considered miraculous, inspiring and life-changing. Every event, trip was like a meeting with a god, or every girl was like a woman of my dreams. I recalled my dream, the jolly madrilenja and felt how my self-loathe took over my body. I wanted to self-destruct, dance with the devils, drink poison and sell my soul.

But as years went by, and the memory of our naive love vanished, she departed to Brazil and I stayed sad and with saudades in Coimbra. Now I happen to hate Spanish and consider the love my biggest mistake of life time. Of course it is my jealousy, anger and bitterness talking. It is the utter sadness that I could never get back those walks by the seaside, I can never get back those early morning passion fragments and the chance to smell her cocoa cream form her neck in the smoky disqotecue surroundings.

We passed by from deserted small villages, wide vineyards and farmhouses. I talked about random stuff, interesting places of Portugal, just to keep my cousin alive. I knew what he was feeling, I knew the pain, the pain, when the painmaker is right next to you. A painmaker, who is there, near you, optimistic, inspired and happy with her life.
My cousin, my brother, no, my only friend told me, that he should have left the girl in Spain. But the girl wanted to come to Portugal. Maybe the girl was scared to let him go. My brother said that he will visit me alone, cause I could help him to get back on track. Not care about women, no, to be honest, hate women, like heartbroken me had been doing.
But the girl started crying, started crying so vulnerably, so sincerely. She was a small child, a small baby, a frigid person. My cousin´s heart melted and he agreed to take a journey with her to Portugal. The train departed night time and two ex-lovers did not sleep whole trip because of the rigidness of the seats. They stayed up all night like friends, sipping cheap Sangria and talking about their expectation about Portugal.
Even though my cousin´s eyes reflected his ice-age mentality, mirroring from the train windows, he understood something. He understood that trains keep always moving, whether there are bumps on the way or no. Even if the passengers go off at some stations, the train keeps moving, the life is evolving and one has to stay on the journey. Journey is life. Sometimes it can be beautiful, sometimes it can be heart-breaking, dark, dissapointing and depressing but it is always taking you somewhere. And to move is to be alive.

I did not know, where my cousin´s heart was going, but I knew that this train is going to Luso. I hoped that my enthusiasm, my endless lullabies of Portugal and portuguese people could make peace between them. I hoped that the miraculous waters of Luso could heal my cousin´s soul.
At the same time I was reminiscing our late night Skype discussions about women or our truth-seekings in many bars in dowtown Tallinn, where whiskey made our souls free. But there was pain, even anger towards women! Oooh, those bitter discussions, how we sometimes hated them, how they used us like condoms and threw away like Big Mac packages. Straight to recycle bin.
But sometimes it is good to be in the recycle bin, because after getting out, you can appreciate more the cleanness and purity. Warm shower, well-cooked meal and taking showers together with amazing female.


When we finally got to Luso, we were at peace. I kept going with my lullabies. First I needed to use my mau portugues in the train station.. What an enormous bridge it had, views straight to the valleys of this divine area. The train station had only one person, an old men, who had set table with coffee, cigarettes. He was looking at the valley and murmuring something. When I asked for directions, he greeted us with his teethless smile, gave me directions and waved us farewell. We departed towards Buçaco mountains, while the trainstation´ s goat sang us farewell Fado. ( I do believe that he was singing fado, since he was portuguese and there are not any portuguese who could not sing that. Or feel that. And feeling is something that is associated with poetic souls and singing)

Luso was tranquil as the life when we were young. When we were small adventurers in our grandmother garden. When I could just put down my blanket under the apple trees, enjoy their colourful leaves and their smell, and read Estonian literature.
In the willage we were greeted by old ladies, cleaning their gardens and picking the leaves. We breathed the fresh air of Buçaco mountains, caressed lurking dogs and sleeping cats and felt happy to feel the smell of garden logfires.
Even though ex-lovers were distant, I saw that with my lullabies sometimes they laughed together, they laughed like it was the best day, they laughed like they were still in love, that it was -at least - possible. They became one, they became powerful, people who could fly over those deep valleys or even build a new bridge between them! I was happy, since I was with my brother and sister.

Before taking on Buçaco we stopped by local supermercado, bought beer and chourico. We shared them as family. . The worst thing of this break up was that I truly loved both of them. But the break-up always forced the standbyers to choose a side. Of course I will choose my brother, my soulmate, my life-long supporter and houmie, I thought while hiking towards Buçaco ... But at the same time I realized, I was sad, angry, depressed to say no, to leave behind my sister..
Life is all about choices. Our choice was to enjoy life to the fullest in Portugal. We climbed up to this bitch, severely sweating, sometimes even winening WHY THE FUCK IS THIS PLACE SO FAR.


Once and then we enjoyed great views to the peaceful village, drank the healing Luso mineral water. Silently I thanked the God for bringing them here. I missed Estonia and my beloved ones. Even though they had this utterly disgusting situation, we could still discuss about arts, dreams, past and our personal saudades at the Mondego riverside. We shared Italian wine – how stupid is to buy Italian wine in Portugal?!
Even if we were drunk all the time, we were sincerely happy, happy as Christmas. We could admire the view to the university campus, while the golden sun made its presence so grandiose! We could feel freedom, when we were greeted by the jolly breezes of river Mondego. While we shared our cigarettes, we shared our secrets! Next to secrets we shared our dreams and with shared dreams we became All Mighty, God. We were not scared to grow old, since we had dreams to pursue on, we had the passion to wait for perfect life, like the old fishermen by the riverside.

To be honest, this hiking was tired as fuck. Soon we met one dachshund, tottering towards us with his winky limping. We thought he was the sign of found hotel, as we entered to the premises of wildly garden. Even though there was a sign that prohibited trespassing, we still went. We went, cause we were young, protesting and ignorant to old-fashionness. When we finally got deep into the garden, we saw grandiose house, with arched doorways and wide windows. Suddenly we were approached by three local mowglies, all happy, alive and inspired. They hugged the dog and called his name, name that I do not recall. I guess his name was a Dog of Happiness.
The children did not mind the tresspassing but the old, witchy looking women gave us a disrespectful glaze. She knew that we were extranjeiros, so she started to speak with us in spanish and french. When I tried to respond with my mau portugues, she told us that we were on the wrong way, wrong garden, wrong life. How could one be wrong, when he/ she is happy! Our happiness could not sadly stay with those mowglies and Dog Of Happiness, so we had to depart. We were stared away by this old witch, who at night time becomes devil herself.

We walked miles, sweating, winening and chain-smoking cigarettes. Finally we wanted to give up and go back to the Luso, but at some point we saw signs leading to hotel Buçaco.
Soon we could hear already chants of many people. We knew we were close.. At some point we decided not to follow the signs, the life of guided tours rather climb on our own. We turned towards forests and started marching up on rocky surface. Even though my brother and sister were separated, they did not mind to lend hands, when the other needed support in order to get over rocky steps or fallen trees. We passed by small chapel and saw army of colourful T-shit- wearing volunteers.
The forest was full of them, all making strange exercises, teambuilding activities, while the trainers were giving orders and suggestions. We planned to join them, to become one with crazy people, to lose ourselves but then we saw the magnificence of this hotel.

A person who witnesses beauty has never nothing to lose. We did not mind to be broke, young and stupid. I guess my brother and sister did not mind to be separated, forever gone, soon to be distant. We admired those peak walls, maritime ornaments, spheres, stranded ropes and azueljos and were left breathless. Speechless. Soulless. Even though it was 5-star hotel, we did not feel that it was ruined by money. We gazed this beautiful neo-manueline piece of art and fell in love with the world. We did not mind the crazy volunteers or the escaping sunset.

The sunset was dissappearing quite fast, leading us to paranoia that now the world gets dark, lonely, desperate; we realized this even more when the harsh-cold mountain breezes started to blow. But we did not give up, while we silently strolled in to peaceful chapel. Usually the chapel had ticket, but there was nobody guarding. So we went in like criminals. Finally we got to the garden, the Garden of Eden. How good smelled the roses and the bushes of this symmetrical garden, how gradual were the grapes and how peaceful looked the small bonds! I was sure that Lonnie Smith had to have similar garden in North-America, otherwise he would not have been able to compose such a beautiful musical piece like „ Garden of Peace.“

We sat there and lid cigarettes. The wind got stronger and my cousin remembered his loneliness. I could sense that from his eyes. We smoked in silence, and I was down, cause I could not come up with right words. Words to motivate him, to give him strenght, light at the end of tunnel. To be honest, I was breathless by the beauty of this hotel.
I felt like this beauty killed me, that this beauty, utter peacefulness left me first time ever speechless. Speechless forever like Mel Blanc. We made touristic photos with this grandiose building, I noticed that my brother and sister were never together on the picture. Meaning, that this memory is not common, mutual.

I remained speechless, I was unable to help my brother to save him from his hell. From his pain, need for escapism.
The thing with silent and peaceful places is that they are the mirror of ones soul. They help the soul to become alive. I did not have a problem, since I had for years killed my soul with fucked up relationships, break-ups, cigarettes, insomnia and drugs. I was so empty that I was not affected by the place, I was so empty that I could just let this beauty take over me. But my cousin, his young, unruined, yet-not-fucked up sould could not stand it. Could not stand the cheery chantings and euphoria of my sister, her gallant dancing moves between the garden bushes. Oh, her, the dancing queen!


Soon we started to go back to Luso. It was much easier to go down. I guess it is the same in life in general: it is easier to go down, to go to hell, to go beneath the earth, to get addicted, to loose hope, just drop and drop, drop and drop. But we dropped as young people, we got lost as children in the midst of the peaceful Luso. We were greeted with cats ready to be caressed.

Also, there were dogs. In general I hate dogs, I only love the Dog of Happiness. And the dogs hated us as well, all barking while we entered to prohibited grounds. When we finally got to the center of Luso – is there a centre in such small place? OF course there is, I am an Estonian, a person from small country and small cities. We went again to supermercado, bought few Sagres´ and chourico and sat at the bus stop. How freshening was the smell of garden log fires, while we silently chew on our food. I noticed that my brother and sister shared their food and I got back my power to share lullabies of great Portuguese and Portugal. Soon they started laughing, and they laughed together.

When we finally go to train station, there was still this never-againg, toothless old man. Again, smiling. While my sister went to the toilet, I tried to explain to my brother the meaning of saudade. The great advantage of embracing the past, to living it through, to appreciating the times. Gradually my brother started to appreciate the past times with her first girlfriend. He lid his cigarette and looked at me with kind smile. I know he was happy, even if he did not say anything, or did not express anything.

Finally we sat in the train and I knew that my cousin´s eyes are happy. Happy to look at the passing villages, vineyards and deserted houses. He understood that life is a journey and past times a marvelous starting point for our present moment. We were happy with life, we appreciated past time chance to be in love, to be with love.

In the night time we bought whiskey and met friends in the radio. We shared thoughts, dreams and personal saudades til dawn. I noticed that my brother and sister smiled at the same time. I noticed that stars were out, and ready for use. At that time I was too drunk to use them, to write them, but now in the silent night I write for love. I write for my Brother and Sister..

Aitäh, Kaur ja Silvia, et tulite mulle külla..
Tean, et teil on ees ilusad ajad, missest, et eraldiseisvad..
Pühitsege oma armastuse-meenutusi, võtke ette eesmärke, maid ja unistusi

ja ärge unustage oma vanemaid tänamast
et nad teid tegid
et nad tegid teil võimalikuks neid momente, elusid, paiku nautida..