Generally, the Portuguese are a friendly, open and receptive people. Not once was I refused a request to take a portrait. Even in the absence of a common language, a smile, a ‘Bom dia’ (Good day) and a simple gesture with the camera was often enough for a subject to agree to having a photograph taken.
So it was that while wandering round Lisbon one afternoon I came across this well dressed couple; I say couple but I mean friends. I know this because the young lady was moving to London, she told me, to be with here boyfriend and, hopefully, get a job in the fashion industry. They both carry off the retro style so well. Strangely, neither looked out of place on the street.
Early one morning I took a walk through the Barrio Alto district of Lisbon. It’s known as the party district; for good reason. As the last, die hard, revelers stumble home they pass the street cleaners whose hard work transform the area into a relatively rubbish free zone. Among them is Mustafa, originally from Senegal who drives the rubbish truck and his co-worker whose name I did not get.
Before getting to Lisbon I stayed in the region of Alejento, which is just north of the Algarve. The B&B was run by Dina who worked in the Portuguese Foreign Ministry as an assistant diplomatic. She had many, often hilarious, stories from her time serving in Washington and at the UN in New York. The mischievous twinkle in her eye and impish sense of humour belie a very intelligent woman. She is married to the artist Walter Rosso from Uruguay. Walter, who is seventy, chain smokes and is rarely seen without a glass of ‘something’, which combined with his gravel voice give him a slightly louche air. Both these lovely people are worth seeking out if you visit the region – just search for casa da dina and prepare to get lost finding the place!