«Take notice that I’ve just returned from the hilltop, with eight cows, one polecat ox, almost twenty heads of cattle and a donkey. The female donkey was not out today, because he went to get a carload of corn with her. Later today, they go out again at 4h30/5 am, back to the mountain. They return home at about 8 am. I still go out with them almost every single day. In fact, I only just arrived. It was him… You see, we’re putting them in stores, because some gave birth, they have small calves, there’s one that has a calf about 4 months old now. Now they’re almost having cubs, again. They’re all giving birth, consequently... We have the polecat ox... We have everything...»
DANIEL RUA, Arcos de Cervos, Montalegre, August 2010
Easter Sunday. In Vilar de Perdizes, a few kilometers away from Montalegre, António Fontes Priest may be doing one of last eastern visits. In the past, people used to receiv the cross of Christ with street filled with carpets of flowers, but now only a few open their homes to kiss the cross.
Nearby, in Pedrário, the beautiful church of Romanesque style remains closed. In this village, the cross of Christ only comes every two years.
Albina Teixeira doesn't go to church, the messe is celebrated in the nearby village of Sarraquinhos. She has already lost the count of the years that she lived and she has almost lost the faith...
VILAR DE PERDIZES, Montalegre, April 2009
There aren´t almost any cattle left. Nor flax, nor wool, nor spinning-wheel. Now all people deals with the wind… The wind turbines are spread all over the mountain.
In the fields around the small chapel of Saint Isidro, in the top of Pena Franga, in plain sight of the three summits of Barroso, a big part of the village cattle is gathered to be blessed during the procession or simply to carry out promises for accomplished praiseworthy, because here people still have faith.
The auxiliary priest, former missionary in Africa, who decided to walk through these hills, from Viseu, does the elegy of the holly farmer and of this simply feast, and he uses the oratory to warn about greed and meanness,
«behold what is going on in our country, attacked by an endless corruption wave, wrapping important politicians and bankers who don't hesitate in selling their souls to build fortunes at the expense of the poor.»
One can guess from the preach of Pentecostes that the people no longer fear the natural disasters (the phenomenon that most impress the man's fantasy: fire, thunder, hurricane, lightning... Ez. 37, 1-14), used in the Bible to tell about God's manifestations.
In Vila Nova (Barroso mountain), the Spring is given through an oak leaf: the gift is offered in each house for the children — the elves — which carries between monsters, old ladies dressed in black, sheep, boars, wolves, owls and many other animals that populate the legends of the ancestors.
In this village, near Misarela (the famous bridge that has reputation for good child-bearing and where the devil meets with God to rescue the souls), some houses and streets have no sun for three long months of the year.
Tânia, chosen among the most showy and nice girls in the village, dressed for the ritual carnival costume with vegetable motives: roots, moss, stems, leaves and flowers. The time of poor harvests is almost over.
Cipriano is doing the washing up.
Sitting in front of the fireplace, his wife, Josefina, is waiting for the ambulance which will take her to the nearest hospital, about 60 km away; she had a stroke shortly and she is now paralyzed. The ambulance may come today, or after tomorrow or even next week...