Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Amidst the geographical nooks of Alto Alentejo, there is a slice of Paradise hidden in between valleys. Blessed by a majestic mountain range, a discreet village is filled with enthusiasm with the return of those who were born but could not stay. Pé-da-Serra got its name to honor Serra de São Miguel a place with lots of stories to tell. Distant 50 kilometres from the Spanish frontier, the villagers have an accent very similar to the Azores, but their hearts could not be more ''alentejano''.
We flee the hustle of Lisbon towards the quiet of Alentejo. The village welcomes us with familiar nods of the head and the main square fills itself with life. The women seat in the lower walls, next to the houses, to comment the new love affairs of each other grandchildren, their husbands reunite in the ''taberna'', for a beer and a discussion of Benfica games, while the children run, gasping, playing whatever game was decided earlier.
Joaquim and Maria are the names most heard, and to every young man or woman that passes by, if someone asks about who their parents are is just to check from which branch of the tree they are and everybody laughs at the finds. We can be offered ''tigeladas'', a regional dessert made with milk, eggs, sugar, flour and spice, made in trays made of clay, to take to the family. We thank and keep on our little stroll.
At sunset, in the alleyways, we heard vivid conversations mixed with the clinking of the kitchenware that come from the homes, painted in white and we watch the stray cats that hide beneath the cars, waiting for the nice old ladies that will feed them with the leftovers. We pass by young groups commenting that they already feel old since they are about to finish college. We laugh.
The ''festeiros'' organize and prepare the selling of food and beverages, decorate the square with lights and colourful banners and the women gather round to talk about the news of those who went to the city but always come back to the place they were born. The little boys play ball with cans found in the street and the little girls pretend to be princesses up in the stage of the ''coreto'', already decorated in red and white stripes.
At the dusk, the music invades the main square, calling people to the party. Today, it will last till dawn. Some dare to dance, be it with grace, be it with less talent, but all in a whirlwind of laughter and fun. Friends hug, the cousins talk about the life of an immigrant and the widows take solace in remembering their late husbands.
Further away from the village, the crickets break the silence of the night and the fireflies light up the fields. The kids gather around a fig tree, eating ''borrachões'' and the teenagers take a walk to the soccer field to see the starry night.
Closer to the dawn, secrets are confessed and some wishes are asked to the falling stars.