Verão de São Martinho is the short period around St. Martin Day (11 November), when the weather gets warmer and sunnier before Autumn definitively comes. I live in a small town by the Portuguese western coast, so I’m obviously taking the opportunity for some sun tanning.
I’ve lived all my life in Portugal, but now I’m preparing myself to leave. The sea and the sun will be among the things I shall miss more, so I’m taking now as much as I can. Much as the sun warms and comforts me, the feeling of loss that I get is stronger. Portugal is currently facing a huge brain drain. Young people are leaving, because the salaries are low and prospects of development grim. Among those who leave, the feeling that this is the country of the lost of opportunities. There is this feeling that the train has departed and there was no place for us, the fact is that in Portugal you can succeed only if you have the right connections, otherwise all doors will be closed, no matter how good you are. It’s probably not too different from other places (well, where I’m going I didn’t need connections, so not everybody is like that), but in a country with the size and economic structure that Portugal, this is dramatic. There is an insidious environment that incites us to quit, where only cynicism seems to pay, while being honest is considered a weakness of character, a lack of ability to survive. It could be worse, of course. It is worse in Serbia, for instance (and there isn’t even the sea as a way of mental escape), but, having friends there, that is no consolation.
(it looks like a desert, and it is a desert, metaphorically speaking, a desert of hope, but the colours are beautiful)
I tend to be fatalist, that’s a culturally induced characteristic that I share with most of my co-nationals…but I don’t like that feeling. So, I celebrate my patriotism by taking as much sun as I can, the beaches are public domain and sun tanning is free. In a few months, I’ll be missing all of this… in fact I’ll be missing it in a few days, after Verão de São Martinho is over. For now, I’ll just enjoy this short break in Autumn, I think I deserve it, and even if I don’t, o sol quando nasce é para todos, e há que aproveitar.
(The beach is not big, but it’s not small either, and it was empty. Yet this nice couple couldn’t find a better place to sit than there in front of me… that is soooo portuguese…)
I’m pessimistic, but if you though this text is depressing, here’s a very crude yet lucid assessment of the current situation, (in portuguese only).
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