one of several sandy coves (this
one frequented by locals) south of town
Lagos, Portugal; Jul 19, 2005
--Jul 10, 2005
Portugal is clean. Lisbon is clean. The streets
are clean. The restaurants are clean. The public squares are clean.
The buses are clean. The castles are clean.
But most of all, the small towns are clean.
So clean that sometimes they look almost deserted, until you spot
an old man sweeping the sidewalk in front of his house or weeding
the gardens along the main street.
and not a broken roof tile in sight
There’s even a national competition to
see which town is the cleanest. Town councils hand out free white
paint (and dark blue or yellow for the trim, from the looks of
it), and everybody paints their house (again). Okay, we’re
laying it on a little thick (just like the paint), but it does
seem like almost all the buildings in the little towns have been
painted quite recently. And there’s no trash, and everything’s
orderly, down to the vegetable gardens and fresh fish stands.
The village that won the competition last year is ironically one
of the poorest towns in Portugal. The joke in Lisbon was: “They’re
so poor they don’t even have garbage.”
We stayed for about a week in the small beach
town of Zambujeira do Mar. The buildings that should normally
look yellowed and battered from sea water/wind were all immaculate.
Our apartment looked out over the town square (pictured above).
We kept waiting for it to get messy, especially with everybody
parading around in it until all hours of the morning, but each
day it looked like someone had managed to vacuum it before we