Afurada Is Living History
Living history is astonishing. You can still open the door to the magic kingdom. Sao Pedro da Afurada or just Afurada is one of these doors. It is a tiny fishing village on the edge of Porto in Portugal that seems to have let the world pass it by.
The Village of Afurada
The Eternal Look of the Sea
Fishers and their spouses have the eternal look of the sea in their eyes and faces. Knowledge of the seas' hazards and the help needed to survive is in the spiritual tile art decorating most houses.
Being Portuguese, the tile covered houses give a sense of design and colour but the rectangular or square tile with images of the Protectors of fishers takes central significance.
Older Women in Afurada Sharing News
Older women, often all in black, chat quietly to each other on the streets while keeping wise old eyes on village life. Being Portuguese, the tile covered houses give a sense of design and colour that must reflect some Moorish legacy.
Fishing villages have a common and timeless smell. The background odour is always the sea with the weed and refuse along its edge but on top of that is the pungent cut of a thousand years of fishing nets and wharves and old boats.
Finally, there's the smell of smokehouses and grilling fish on the market as lunch is prepared. Afurada has this pungency and it quickly supports a feeling that you're in Brigadoon or a past back at least a millennia.
Tiles Give Afurada Houses Its Distinct Character
Distinct Character of Afurada Homes
Almost every house in Afurada is decorated with tiles in square or rectangle showing the adopted saint or other protectors to which the house is dedicated. It shows that such a protector has kept the members of the family safe. Often, this protector is shown with boats or fishing scenes, the major concern of the families in the area.
It is interesting to look at these tiles as often they tell stories of the residents there or of the village in general.
The Sharpest Building in Afurada Popular to the Locals
The Tradition of Small Shops
The tradition of small shops is very much alive in Afurada. Pastry shops don't sell meat. Grocery shops don't sell pastry. Each small street has its own bar and the sharpest building in town is the club house for the Football team.
Groceries are sold from tiny shops each one knowing the needs not only of the street it services but the individual families in that street. If you go into any of these shops with a smile and a welcome face, the owners open to you and welcome a new experience. Wherever you're from, they have a nephew, uncle, grandson, any family member. If the central Church is the spirit of the village, the small shops are its heart.
The Panadeira, Bakery and Pastry Shop
Early in the morning, there's a flurry of activity around each of the panadeiros that do the village baking. All of the black clad grannies know the exact moment that the bread is ready for sale and, with their aprons on, they descend on their shop for purchase and news. Be warned. Do not get in their way.
Don't be intimidated, however, to get in these shops. When we walked into the bakery we've selected, faces were blank but with big smiles and a happy Bom Dia, they realized we were harmless tourists that could possibly give them a story to tell over lunch.
We pointed on different cakes and sweets and when it was clear we were there to shop, they happily shared pieces of cake and waited with grins for our reaction. These are the same small shop owners all over the world, big city or small village. By the time we left with our purchases, we did not require any further lunch.
Our New Afurada Friend
Here's the Village Baker's Pastry Shop and Bakery
The Grocery Shop
In the grocery, there was a stack of huge salted cod. One man spoke reasonable English and we told him the days when the Portuguese fishermen swarmed the Grand Banks of Eastern North America to bring the cod home to be salted in winter. One Canadian province bears a memory of this time being called Labrador from the Portuguese word for work.
He really enjoyed hearing the story and immediately retold it to everyone in the grocery and soon my husband was standing with a salted cod draped over his shoulder so memory pictures could be taken with the staff. The laughter brought in other shoppers.
As a reward, we got a fridge magnet of a smiling cod.
The Salted Cod Photo
A Walk Along the Wharf
Afurada has working wharf parked on it are different fishing vessels with fishers working on their nets and telling stories to each other. Walking along this wharf by the fleet is a real experience. The boats are tough little vessels with high bows and deep drafts. They're a mix of traditional fishing gear and hydraulic systems to haul in the nets.
Where we stay on a beach, the next land is 3,000 kms. away in North America and, by the time the waves hit this fishing fleet, working on these boats is a hazardous experience. These are tough, gnarled seamen and their stories are told in small fishing villages all over the world but it's especially well told in the Interpretive Centre of Afurada.
The Fishing Boats on the Wharf
The Centro Interpretativo do Patrimonio da Afurada
The Centre was our first introduction to the Village. We found parking in this area of the beach not knowing of the village of Afurada. As we walked inward, a red warehouse attracted our attention as it looked like a Museum. We hesitated but the lady in-charge invited us in as admission is free.
The Centre is an old warehouse beautifully converted into a combination of modern art, fishing history, the stories of the saints that protected the fishers and all the bits and pieces that make fishing and the life of people in fishing villages. Most of these pieces were donated by the fishers and their families.
What we found most interesting was the photo exhibition of the faces of the old residents of Afurada, men and women, fishers, fish mongers, crafters, and washers. Their faces talk of life in this village just as well as the displays.
The Centre is a great tribute not just to the life of the fishers and the villagers of Afurada but also that of the many other fishers and fishing villagers all over the world.
Display in the Centro Interpretivo do Patrimonio da Afurada
Another Display in the Centro Interpretativo do Patrimonio
Cafes and Restaurants
At midday, your nose will guide you to a local restaurant. There are several cafes and restaurants to choose from. Outdoor grilling of fish of all types, sardines, sea bass, is the standard and it's about as fast from boat to plate as you can make it. There are one or two standard menu restaurants with chicken and beef but why would you go to a fishing village to eat that staff?
Taberna do Sao Pedro
Lavaduoro Publico da Afurada
This might be a surprise to you but these are ancient community washing tanks that people in the village still use today and many women prefer it even if they have washing machines at home. They claim that this is better for huge pieces like sheets, bed covers and carpets.
South of this place is called Praia dos Lavadoures where lived many of the washers who took in the laundry of the British families who lived in Porto then. Remember, almost all the Port houses here have British names. There must have been many community washing tanks around this area then. What is astonishing is to see one that is still used today. Isn't this enough to draw you to Afurada?
A Visit to Afurada
Is Afurada a place you would like to visit?
Afurada Gives You a Feel of Portugal
Portugal's cities are wonderful but to have a feel for the country, a slow walk through a fishing village, taking time to smile at people, shop a little bit, and to say hello would be welcome. They'll have more to teach you than the common lessons taught by all European cities.
Where Abouts is Afurada?
How to Go to Afurada from Porto
99.9% of fishing villages are on the water so just follow the water south of Porto. You can walk from Ponte Luis 1, just follow the river south but it's quite a long walk.
You can take the boat "Flor do Gas", a small taxi boat that transports people and bikes from the Lordelo do Ouro (Porto) side to Afurada (Gaia). It crosses the Douro River enabling you to enjoy the Arrábida bridge and also where the river flows into the Atlantic ocean.
It is fast and inexpensive and the boat runs every 15 minutes during these hours.
6 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday
8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sunday
Has Afurada Struck a Responsive Chord in You?
Do you enjoy "living" history? In your family's history, are there any fishers? Did any of your ancestors come from a tiny fishing village?
© 2017 Mary Norton