There are few places more special to me than the tiny village of Cacela Velha in the Algarve. Long before I ever came to Portugal I had read about it in the Rough Guide. A cobbled path surrounds the church, and on a day with even the merest hint of sunshine you can sit on a bench, with your back against the church wall, and gaze dreamily out to sea.
The occasional footfall disturbs and a visitor will appear, round the corner. Some will nod, “Bom dia!” with a trace of a smile. Others avert their eyes or focus on the view beyond the wall. There are two benches and sometimes the other is occupied. A bike might be propped against the wall. There is no transport into the village. The birds sing, and alight shyly on the wall. All is peace and tranquillity.
After a while I rise from the bench and walk round to the front of the church. The carvings around the door each tell their own story.
The village is Sunday quiet, but then, it’s like that most days! All of the activity centres on the cemetery and the bringing of fresh flowers. But I know that this village can erupt into life. I was there once for the Festival of Enchanted Nights. Hookahs, Turkish tea and dancing ladies! Can you imagine it?
Changes come, as they surely must, but I so hope that Cacela Velha hangs on to the integrity which, for me, makes it a very special place.
Wishing Paula a very special Thursday. It’s her birthday!