Leaving São Lourenço and going south we arrive at Ribamar. When we go down to the sea we come to the beach named “Coxos”. Rich in iodine, it formerly attracted people suffering from bone related problems, many of whom had difficulties in walking , thus originating the name “Coxos”, which in portuguese means “cripple”.
Today it is a favourite of surfers. They have their reasons! They paddle out to sea on their boards searching for a good set. There is nothing crippled about them!.
Walking along the coastline you first pass “Praia do Cavalinho”and following that the beach at Ribeira D`Ilhas, a true Mecca for those, who love to surf. The rocky bottom of the sea means that the waves are much more uniform ,so making this beach one of the best in the world, where you can practise surfing or bodyboard. Since February of 2011 it has been included in the first european resort to be named as member of the worldwide surf reservation by the Save the Waves organisation.
For several years many national and international championships took place there, with great names in the surfing world like Kelly Slater and our “own” Tiago Pires.
Continuing about another 1km we can turn to go down to the Empa beach, where we can always see youngsters with their boards under their arms descending the cliffs.
Nearby we can find the Milregos Fort, this too built during the period of the war of restoration after Portugal`s separation from Spain. Originally to protect the coast it was later abandoned as was the fort above São Lourenço`s beach. During the 1940`s there was a plan to convert the fort into a hotel and tea room, but owing to lack of funds this idea never went ahead. The coast continues with small extensions of sand which are difficult to access. Nevertheless our athletes still manage to go there and have even baptized them, one I do remember is called Reef, the others unfortuneately I cannot remember. Then we arrive at the beach called Matadoro (formally the site of the local slaughter house). Here we can bathe, look for mussels, barnacles and goose-neck barnacles(all local specialities), practise surf and windsurf. This beach has been chosen by many of the local surf schools, that have sprung up in recent years, where they teach youngsters the first steps in the sport.
After a short time without giving you any stories about this beautiful place, here I am once again to talk about The South Beach or Whale Beach as it is known by the locals. Many years ago a whale was washed ashore on the beach in this bay and of course this had great impact on the local people and they gave the name “Whale” to the location. The bones of the whale are still kept in the local museum, situated in “Largo da Misericórdia”
For a very long time Ericeira has been chosen by families in Lisbon and the surrounding areas as their preferred holiday resort. As soon as the first sun beams arrive, long before summer, in May /June the first groups of “bathers” begin to appear as they wish to give a better standard of living to their children, far from the pollution of the big cities.
The following postcard was entitled “Bathing Time” by the photographers of the time.
Adults believed that the waves splashing against their legs helped improve circulation and also cured varicose veins. On the rocks, far from the damp sand, we could see groups of people lying in the sun. Even today, on the rocks next to the Hotel Vila Galé right in front of the beach we can see the devotees of Ericeira taking advantage of the precious remedy, free to all. An hour of sun-bathing gives a chance to rest and to take in the magnificent scenery starting from our beach and on to Cabo da Roca the most westerly point in Europe. A most wonderful panorama.
Tiny children come to Ericeira without teeth and shortly after they begin to cut their first tooth. By the time the holidays are over they are already taking their first bites. For a few years much of the sand dissappeared from our beaches and it was almost impossilbe to bathe specially in the south beach. Luckily, thanks to the efforts of our local council leader, machines were brought in and rocks were placed in a circle forming a natural pool ideal for young children. Here you can see the result at low tide. For many we are reminded of our youth, our first love, our marriage plans, forming our families and thus will never forget the South Beach. Some of these promises of love were written in the sand. The sea arrived and all the words were gone. That`s life. True events from yesterday, today and tomorrow!
Today our beaches are still visited by the same families. Many of those, who arrived toothless continue to come with their grandchildren to receive the gift of our iodine with its strong odour that can be noticed from kilometres away. That is our sea our, our beaches, our Ericeira. Come and join us! You are most welcome.