The “Chui!” was heard again. on the pier of Portimão

Half a hundred volunteers recreated the hustle and bustle of the old sardine fish market, in an activity at the Portimão Museum

«Tre one thousand two ninecents, two eight hundred, two seven hundred, two seicents, two five hundred», the auctioneer went on at great speed, muddying the words in an almost unintelligible spiel. “Chui!” shouted a buyer. And immediately the litany stopped and the salesman announced: "'It's sold, two thousand and five hundred shields to Mr Xavier, two counts and fives!». The other buyers, who had their eyes on the sardines, but were waiting for the price to go down, soon complained, one with the other and all with the salesman: "it's always the same to buy!».

The scene could have taken place 50 years ago, on the edge of the trawler «Arrifana», which had just arrived from the sea, at the sardine auction on the Portimão quay, next to the bridge that was not yet known as «old», because there was no other. But, in fact, the scene took place this Tuesday, August 2nd, in the recreation of the traditional sardine discharge, which the Portimão Museum once again promoted, to whet your appetite protocols for Sardine Festival, which starts tomorrow, in the riverside area of ​​the city.

Ana Patrícia Ramos, anthropologist at the Portimão Museum, explained to journalists that «we are not recreating a specific time, this is not a historical recreation, it is a recreation of memories. It was a lot of work done with the community, with the people who belonged to this reality and who told us their memories».

About half a hundred extras included from employees and technicians of the Museum, through workers from other services of the Chamber, such as the Municipal Library, to members of various associations in Portimão and even children, some of them used to its private beach, which is the pier next to the Museum, great for a good dip in the river.

There, before the eyes of hundreds of people who watched this lively recreation on the spot, «characters who were part of the atmosphere of the sardine auction in Portimão», as Ana Patrícia Ramos explained.

And what characters were these» They were «the auctioneer, the inspector, even the boat that arrives with the fish on board, the suit, who were the men who unloaded the fish, with the canasta thrower up here to whoever caught it. , chilled the fish, who transported the fish boxes to the transports» in trucks, flatbed vans, motorized or motorized tricycles.

Then there were “the children who wandered around the fish market, many of them skipping school to come here so they could start in this life and take something to eat home, at a time when life was not easy. Children wandering around, taking dips in the river, stealing a sardine or two”.

There was also «a reference to an older memory, which was the women who, in times, before the ice, salted the fish here that later went to other destinations».

And the «buyers of the auction, whether for the canning factories or to transport to other parts of the region and the country», with their shirt pockets full of short story notes.

There were also «some parallel purchases, namely the company fish, which will come from the trawler on a barge and which will be sold there on the stairs, as it was, in a parallel sale, which did not go through the most official part. This fish was sold to secondary buyers who came here”, namely the “harriers who were going to sell in the countryside”.

Because, without a specific time, what was recreated there refers to the 70s of the last century, there also appeared “a tourist or another”, a “camóne” talking about things that no one, then, understood.

In summary, according to Ana Patrícia Ramos: «we were creating the atmosphere that was, after all, the hustle and bustle that characterized this auction and that attracted many people here».

All that changed when the auction moved to the new fishing port, on the other side of the Arade, in the late 80s, in 1987. “The open mouth auction became electronic. And unloading is no longer done by hand, as was done here, today it is done using hydraulic cranes. The fish is no longer taken, by the basket, from the basement, today it is taken in vats. All this reveals the transformations of seine fishing».

In the midst of a recreation taken very seriously by the fifty actors, there were arguments between buyers, kids diving into the river, sardine thefts, alms for the proud beggar, who didn't want to take the penny, stories of knife and bowl told by women, widows, with their husbands dead at sea, mothers of six children, their hands cracked from salting their fish, songs sung in chorus, smoke and the noise of the harness-maker's motorbike on his way to the countryside to sell his box of sardines.