We had breakfast and got ready for Maria & Paulo coming. Maria came up and we went down to meet Paulo in their car. We drove out to Loulé where the Carnaval Parade is being held. They had one yesterday and will have the final one on Tuesday. Carnaval seems to me an odd celebration. It seems to be a time of excess to make up for the deprivations of Lent, which seems contrary to the whole purpose of Lent. Maria explained it as their substitute for Halloween and the schools promote it like we do Halloween. Certainly there were a lot of children around who were not part of the parade, but were in costume.
Paulo parked the car and we walked down to a square which we had driven past when there before. We looked round the square then walked up a narrow pedestrian street to the castle, which again was closed! We have been there three times and we have never been able to get in. We walked up the back streets to the Church that we had seen previously. A service was just coming out and we managed to see the interior. We crossed the square and went into the gardens opposite the Church and looked over the town. As we did so, the floats for the parade appeared, being drawn by tractors to where the parade would take place. We got a preview of them as they drove past.
We continued through the back streets and back to the main street where the parade would take place. The arrangement is quite different from the way we do our parades. The parade circulates up and round a wide avenue which has a boulevard in the middle. The floats are arranged round this street ahead of time and when it starts they go in a continuous loop. We were able to see the floats again, this time at close quarters and it was so good to have Maria and Paulo there to explain the symbolism on the floats.
We decided to have lunch, so went back into the rest of the town. Paulo and Maria had never been here before, and it seemed strange us guiding them around in their own country. I wanted a sandwich and Maria wanted soup. It took us a little while to find a place that accommodated all our wants, but we eventually did.
We headed back to the parade route and found a spot to watch the floats pass by. Between the floats groups of dancers performed as the parade progressed very slowly round the route. This parade has a very strong Brazilian flavour apparently, with little of the Portuguese traditions. This was very evident in one of the floats where the girls were barely dressed and several of the dance troupes sported scanty costumes. It became quite cool and Maria in particular felt cold. Christine and I felt the effect of the walking and then standing we had done, and still feel our feet and legs affected by it. We left before the parade concluded and headed back towards the car, stopping in a cafe to have a hot drink to warm up.
We got back to the car and Paulo brought us back to the apartment. He has to work back in Lisbon tomorrow, so they left immediately for home. It was so good to see them both again. We have always said that Fiona knows how to pick good friends and this couple is testimony to that. It was a delight to spend these two days with them again and reminisce about Maria's time in Canada and learn more of their families. It felt sad to say goodbye tonight and only hope we can meet up again, either here or back in Canada.
After they left we came upstairs and had a light supper and spent the evening sorting out the day's photos and videos.
Tomorrow we will probably not go far, but we see our time fast coming to a conclusion and feel we want to make the most of the few remaining days.