The sardines and the neti pot

Personal chronicle of one of the actors in the recreation of the sardine discharge

The Portimão Sardine Festival started this Tuesday by reliving a memory, the memory of the unloading of sardines on the Portimão pier. It was a recreation and a recreation at the same time.

Let me explain: it was a recreation because it tried to bring back all that hustle and bustle related to the auction, which some still remember, and at the same time, a recreation because whoever gave the body to the manifesto to make it happen had fun .

The Portimão Museum has already accustomed us to recreating history. This time, the involvement of “civil society” was of a broad spectrum: it brought people together, from 9 to 90 years old.

At the (huge) risk of forgetting someone, I'm going to mix everything up: names that served to honor real people, relatives of the actors, characters, groups and invented nicknames.

Here they go: Xavier, João, Fiscal Guard, Antunes, Chupeta, ABC, Salgadeiras, Bota, Mr. Zé, Turista, the crew of the trawler “Arrifana”, Amália, Já-Vou, Fernando, Augusta, Fiscal da Lota, Pobrezinha, Viviana, the kids, Romão, Conceição, Barbatanas, Museum staff, Miguel, Carregadores, Celso, grandparents and grandchildren, Eduardo, Ti Xica, Pernica, the Senior Theater crew, Mafalda, Mário, people from the Museum's Friends Group , Lara, Rui, Anabela, Martim, Dinis, parents and children, Zélélé, Arlindo, the crew of the envoy “Moira”, Joaquim, Francisco, Pedro, Hugo, Periquito , Maurício, the Docapesca people, Ricardo, Vasco, Ciganito, Gabriel, the sardines and, forgive me, I will just highlight two people who put up with all these people, the actor and director Vítor Correia, and Patrícia of the Museum, which coordinated the logistics.


The Tax Guard always attentive

Vítor, as he demanded to be treated, had the patience of a saint to welcome, “train” and manage this crowd of veterans, people who were getting into these things for the first time, people with different experiences, interests and enthusiasms.

Despite this mixture, he managed to create a spirit of body and group, starting and ending the rehearsals with a circle in which everyone introduced themselves and said what was on their minds. Afterwards, there were always “technical-theatrical games” that relaxed and prepared us for what was to come.

Then came two weeks of rehearsals, in which we trained the different groups, from the buyers to the salt pans, including a trip to the place of the action, the auction bridge.

And here the expression “give the body to the manifesto” was literal, because rehearsing with the heat that was there was not simple. On top of that, they were rehearsals without a very defined script, as we didn't know how long the boats took to arrive, how long they took to unload, and managing the action time was, of course, complicated.

It was at the cost of many bottles of water and the spirit of sacrifice that we endured the sun's tower. And it was not possible to change the times to less sunny hours because a lot of people have a lot to do…


And the big day of Historical Recreation arrived! Meeting at 8 am at the Museum and it was interesting to check out the last minute details that the staff brought, accessories from the period that would be portrayed, although there was a great temporal latitude. 9 hours at the pier and a first unforeseen event: the boat arrived faster than we expected and the entry times had to be accelerated.

When the buyers were called, of which I was a part, the auction was held there, with the “coyo” given by Antunes, who took the 400 kilos of sardines from “Arrifana” for eight contos. Next, who bought the fish from “Moira” was Xavier, the 100 kilos for two contos. Sorry about that, but I got “charingado”.

This was a shame. During the whole week of rehearsals, Antunes was the one who always managed to buy the fish from the trawler. Whoever bought the sent was always Xavier. This cannot be a coincidence, there was a kind of collusion here in which the fish always went to the same ones! And this in the beards of the authorities.

As a result, I had to go to the “chata”, buy some sardines from the fishermen, because small traders also have to survive, sometimes evading the tax guard.

Come on, not bad at all, I managed to make some sales to the people who were around looking for cheaper sardines, earn some money and give a few pennies to the kids who helped out there.


As this is my personal view, whoever wants to see the movie from this organized chaos you can click here and, as the television commentators say, here are some final notes.

I believe that everyone on this side of the stage had fun (Vítor said that we had behaved well) and, we hope, interested those who saw us and will see us.

Another issue was the visual “noise” caused by those who did not belong to the show, are not part of the show and should, professionally speaking, refrain from being part of the show.

For the year there's more?

Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação