Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Part One: The Imaginary Tower

The Portuguese writer Ruben A. wrote a novel about an imaginary tower, situated somewhere in the valley of the River Lima, in the midst of lovely countryside. The book was called A Torre da Barbela and I can quote by heart what the keeper said when he climbed up to the top with visitors who wanted to see the view: “Look: here you are either pleased with what you see in the blink of an eye, or it may take a while to fully enjoy it.” We may feel the same as we travel along the Portuguese Northwestern coastline: look at it in the blink of an eye or take time to fully enjoy it. Those who decide to look carefully will be rewarded by being transformed from a simple tourist into a traveler to real or imaginary places. The sense of monotony is immediately erased by the succession of small properties that create a mantle made up of a thousand different shades of green, that gently contrast with the blue of the sea. Geography alone is not enough to understand the complexity of this cultural landscape, molded by history and collective memory. We have to look for the marks made over the centuries by its inhabitants and read and interpret them - at times using imagination – to see a landscape that is filled with meaning (to be continued).


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