Central Portugal – Off the Tourist Trail


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Whilst I was being a bit lazy last week, the rest of the village was putting me to shame. The locals were busy working long days on the land. The sunny warm days meant that most of them were in the fields working before 8 am, and were still there at 7 pm ( with a break for lunch)
They have done an amazing job, and the land around Portela has been transformed. Fields and small plots have been ploughed or dug over by hand, muck has been dug in and lots of vegetables planted. Fields of grass have been cut, dried and stored, ready to be used as bedding for the goats.

The amazing thing is that almost all of this work has been done completely by hand.
Tools with lovely names like encharda, sickle, and scythe, (that look like they belong in an agricultural museum) have been used to complete most of it, with only one villager using a small mechanical rotovator to dig over an entire field.

A couple of the village men have small vehicles for transporting their tools, muck, potatoes for planting etc, and to bring back the cut grass, but the ” young man ” of the village ( who is 84) and the women carry every thing back and forth from the village to the fields and back again, either on their heads or backs.
One woman in particular manages to carry the most enormous bundles of hay grass or wood on her back.
As I stood on my terrace I watched a huge ball of grass with two strong legs sticking out of the bottom slowly making its way up the hill.
She made 3 trips up the lane one evening as her final job of the day, after spending the day digging, planting and cutting.

I get tired just watching.

I jokingly call it keep fit for the over 70’s, but I couldn’t manage it now, let alone in another 20 years or so, and i think the villagers would find an aerobics class or a day in the gym a stroll in the park, compared to this daily work out !


Author: portugalholidayguide

I love making and creating , and trying out new ideas .


  1. We have a lot of women around here who also carry bundles of things, and sometimes trees, on their heads. (Why do I never see men doing that?) But I’ve never seen a bale of hay strapped to anyone’s back before!

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