“The wave, the dune, infinity and the sardine…”

“The wave, the dune, infinity and the sardine…”

It’s Costa Nova and that’s it, few people add Prado, the official name, Costa Nova do Prado, parish of Gafanha da Encarnação, but if you really want to go in a straight line from Costa Nova to Gafanha, go by boat, it’s straight ahead , the estuary in the middle, so silted up, reduced, minimized, people from my time still remember how the boats (many moliceiros) came out there almost right next to the striped houses, look now at the tiny pier serving as a next to the newspaper kiosk, take a good look at the distance that the land has taken from the sea, yes because the ria is sea too, it is a mixture of the waters that flow into the Vouga with the tides that force its journey upstream.

The argument is old and old and I don’t even know why it continues: where to eat better, in Costa Nova or in Barra, its neighbor to the north, two kilometers further, a place where the lighthouse stands proudly, also in stripes, according to more high on the Iberian Peninsula, 62 meters high! Well, even those, like me, prefer the sands of Barra (or at least as far as Biarritz, which is where Costa and Nova and Barra border) and the lively places of Barra, like Café Farol or the Márito, or dead, like the Assembly – a place to play billiards or ping-pong – or the Galeão, the most intimate nightclub where everyone they know from Águeda to Aveiro stopped, they resort to the restaurants on the Costa, and if there is a «primus inter pares” is the Sailing Club, an addition to the sailing classes, because the Sailing Club, like Carlos da Canção in Lisbon (Manoel de Oliveira was still a young man) are two, the club itself, which rents parking signs for those who have a boat moored there and provide instruction for kids who want to learn how to sail, and the restaurant, which has been a landmark for a long, long time, run for many years by the late Luís Fonseca, and is now the apple of my dear Manuel dos Santos Almeida’s eye, a companion from other houses and other fights, but always a companion and always professional like few others, he and his team, some of the members that make up the team are also linked to the Club of Vela almost umbilically.

I’m not going to talk about food, although I even had, at this very moment when I’m writing, an appetite worthy of neither Gargantua, king of the Dipsodos, nor his son Pantagruel, but enough to hit me with a fork and knife in hand with a grilled sea bass. or with a well-cut piece of turbot. Chronicles are chronicles, now fallen into disgrace, because people seem to no longer like this more personal form of journalism, and sometimes they take everything inside as if they were stone soup (no, they don’t need to go to the Sailing Club for soup of stone, which there isn’t, stick to the fish soup). This takes, for example, the Eça de Queiroz which, during the summer holidays, was installed right in front – on the land side and not the estuary, as is clear to see – in the Palheiro de José Estêvão, now well restored, a typical haystack in the region that belonged to the family of the famous tribune, José Estêvão Coelho de Magalhães, professor José Estêvão, born in Aveiro on December 26, 1809, notable Portuguese journalist, politician and parliamentary speaker, graduated in Law from the University of Coimbra, being during the period from 1836 to 1862 the dominant figure of the left opposition in the Chamber of Deputies and a veteran of the liberal wars, forced into exile in England and on the island of Terceira where he participated in the Mindelo Landing.

Invited by Luís de Magalhães, the son of José Estêvão, Eça de Queiroz settled here long before there was a Sailing Club. He came from the city and in a letter addressed to Oliveira Martins, a politician and above all a historian, he boasted about the region: «I couldn’t cut down my mountain of prose. Taking the prose to the sands of Costa Nova is not practical – o practical man! There is certainly the breeze, the wave, the dune, infinity and sardines there – essential things for inspiration – but I lack that other supreme condition: an isolated room with a pine table». I complain about the same thing when I settle in Barra, in August, remembering my childhood and adolescence: I take a lot of prose with me and little is left out. But dinner at the Sailing Club is tradition. Very grounded


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