In my last post I promisrd to tell you some interesting stories about our beaches. Here I am keeping my promise and asking you to forgive the delay in writing.Let me start with São Lourenço: situated some 6 kms north of Ericeira in the parish of Santo Isidoro. A small but charming beach with white sand, although a little courser than the beaches to the south. However, it attracts many tourists seeking a peaceful setting..
At present it is included in the first european area of the worldwide Save the Waves surf sanctuaries. This area goes from the beach at Matadoro as far as the beach at São Lourenço and its inclusion in Save the Waves began in February of 2011.
Two interesting points distinguish this beach from the others in Ericeira: The Fort and the Outlet of the Safarugo into the sea. Santa Suzana Fort, also known as São Lourenço Fort, is still a historical mark at this beach. After independence from Spain in 1640 the fort was errected to protect the coastline from pirates. Recently and until a few years ago it served as a post for the customs and excise authorities, who tried to prevent the entrance of contraband.
The spring of the Safaruga brook is in the Royal Tapada of Mafra ( the former royal hunting grounds) and it winds its way down to the coast. It is in the sea at the beach of São Lourenço that it finally comes to rest giving a considerable beauty to the area.
From the view-point we had a few special moments watching the men playing malhada( a type of quoits), surfers catching their waves and line fishermen.
I still remember grannie Nazaré and her sister, carrying their buckets, walking down the narrow track that goes from the bandstand to the beach. They also carried small sticks which they poked into gaps in the rocks in attempts to find octopus. Of course people still do it today, but 50 years ago it was different. If they had a good catch they would go to the surrounding villages and exchange the octopus for potatoes, beans and many other food stuffs. The local economy still used bartering.
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.