Posted by Marianne Hoesen on Sunday, January 8, 2012 Under: way of life
When you ask one of the older inhabitants that has lived in São Marcos da Serra his/her entire life, to tell you about the past, you will probably hear a deep sigh first. "Aaahhhh, when I was young, things were very diffent here...." The village was prosperous, the hills were clean from weeds, there were no ruins and the montes (houses) were full of life and people.
In the fifties of the last century São Marcos da Serra was indeed a busy place. There were around 4179 inhabitants that lived in the village and in the surrounding hills. Agriculture was predominant. In the very small, but fertile valley´s people planted corn, beans, potatoes, grain and fruit. On the slopes of the hills they planted rye and oats. São Marcos da Serra was famous for its delicious peaches, its excellent olive oil, wonderful honey and high quality medronho and cork.
There were 3 olive oil presses in the village, 2 windmills and a watermill, small factory´s for charcoal, several bakery´s, a factory for mendronho and the monthly fairs were large and busy.
There was a lot of trafic at the train station, because the railroad was the only way to transport goods in and out of São Marcos da Serra. Grain, charcoal and cork were shipped out and manure and stones for the roads were shipped in. In those days there were no limits for hunting, so a lot of partridge was sent by train to the capital of the country, Lissabon.
The roads at that time were only dirt roads, dusty in the summer and soaking wet in the winter. People could only transport goods with the help of oxes or donkeys. The river of São Marcos da Serra, the Odelouca, was important for the inhabitants as a water supply and for fishing, but during heavy rains it was possible that the village could not be reached for several days.
It was a time of hard work and simple life and some people wanted something more. Many people (mostly men) left the serra to seek a better life abroad or to generate extra income to ease the financial troubles of the family back home. The spread all over the globe, but most of them left for France and Germany where the economy was booming at that time.
Where are the days when the village was prosporous and full of life? Today (2012) there are only some 1345 inhabitants left and a lot of things have changed. Many houses are slowly falling into ruins, young people are leaving because there are no jobs and no affordable housing. The countryside is being abandoned by the Portuguese.
Maybe in this time of economic crisis, people will once more understand the real value of living in the countryside. I hope this will be a chance for the younger generations to pick up and honour the old traditions and way of life, so they won´t get lost for ever.
In : way of life
Tags: history são marcos da serra way of life fifties sixties