Saturday, May 20, 2017
For centuries, several people lived in the Algarve, but the arabs were the most influential and characterized the region. For 500 years - from the 8th century to the 13th century, they left, road signs, an architectural, cultural, social and economic heritage. The passage of the moors in the South of the country left, however, many other testimonies, including the name of the villages, and in the architecture of the houses, especially in roof terraces, on cubic shape of buildings, white decorations on the facades and in laced chimneys. The water mills, agricultural techniques, fishing gear were passed from generation to generation, and the enchanted Moorish legends, the ancient like telling about, are further evidence of the passage of the Arabs here, which can still be observed.
Legend of the Serra de Monchique
The afternoon had begun it´s fall, and with it the scorching heat during the day. The Earth was still hot and the water warm. Not even a breeze was blowing. In the Sierra, silence reigned. Antonio, a young fisherman who had suffered a shipwreck, walked to chance. His eyes were lost in the horizon. He dreamed of great and confusing things. All of a sudden, he stopped. It wasn't fear that made him stop, but a beautiful appearance. Next to a rock, a young girl all dressed in white was contemplating the landscape. They stood static for a few seconds. But the young lady felt she was being watched and turned around. She had her face uncovered and was beautiful. She gave a muffled cry and covered her face in a fast motion. Then she spoke:
— Come here! I want to see you better.
The boy came close. Looked at her with fascination. And asked:
— Can you uncover your face?
She answered in a soft voice:
— Not today. But you will come here more often and then... I will do as you request.
He just smiled at her and asked:
— Are you one of the moors that have managed to live here?
The young lady answered indirectly:
— My father had a Palace down there… We had so beautiful parties! There were troubadours singing ... and I… I also played the lyre…
— And why don't you play now?
— Sometimes ... when I'm sad…
— But where do you live?
— I live here under this rock.
— Under the ground?
— Yes. Why are you so surprised?
— You don't have light!
— That is what you think.
— But.. Where is your old palace?
— Your people levelled it down!
— My people?
— Yes ... your people!
— But ... I never knew there was no Palace down there!
— The most beautiful around these lands!
— And you lived in the Palace?
— Yes ... until the soldiers of your King came.
— The soldiers? But ... my King ... hasn't been around here!
— Yes. I saw him in his black stallion, proud!
— Do you know his name?
— I heard they called him Afonso.
António led his hands to his face as if wanting to make sure it was not a dream. Then he went back to look at the beautiful blonde. There was some pallor on the faces of the young fisherman. Them he asked almost in fear:
— Do you know… If this Christian King ... was Afonso 3rd?
— It was!
— Because that King died long before I was born! How can you have seen him, if you look my age?
The young moorish girl was silent for a moment. Seemed embarrassed. The boy added:
— You must be mistaken.
— Maybe. Don't think about it. Look, it's getting dark. Go back to the village, but don't forget to come back here more times!
The boy, somewhat perplexed, didn’t answer straightaway. She recommended as she was getting up and walking to the rock that was near:
— Don't tell anyone about our encounter!
She disappeared behind the rock. António went around it — and not even the trail of the girl was discovered.
He went down the Sierra pensive. Arrived home already in the dark. Didn’t have supper and didn’t sleep. Seeing him like this, the mother tried to find out the cause of what was going on. But António remained silent. He didn’t go fishing. Climbed the serra de Monchique every evening, with the scorching sun and only came back home at night. His companions have noted his absence. They come to his home. But Antonio's mother didn't know anything and just cried. So they promised her, that the next day, two of the fishermen would follow Antonio, to see if they could find his secret. And as they promised, they did.
As Antonio climbed the mountain, rushed, hoping to get close to the one that already filled all his life, little did he know that he was followed closely by two companions. Upon arriving near the fierce rock where the moorish girl came out, Antony called:
The companions hid. The name he called was a woman’s, and Moorish!
Hardly had they had that thought, their eyes snapped open. A very beautiful woman, face uncovered and wrapped in a white mantle that hung from her head, emerged from behind the rock where the fisherman had stopped.
António tried to grab her, but she made him stop:
— Wait, Antonio! It is not yet time to come down with me to my underground Palace. Maybe tomorrow. Before that, I want you to bring me a bit of dirt from the land were your house is. Once there was a mosque there.
He was surprised:
— How do you know?
— Because I went there many times.
— But my grandmother was born in that House!
— Your grandmother may know what happened to me. Or, at least, heard something about it. — And what happened to you?
— My father brought me here and enchanted me!
— Enchanted you? So...
António was perplexed. He just then understood that the young lady he saw in front of him wasn’t like any other. He was terribly pale and said:
— Now I understand everything you've said. You're a young enchanted moor. And for your enchantment to disappear I must give up everything. It's a lot to ask me!
She was sad.
— Antonio! If you come with me to my Palace, you will be as powerful as my father and my brothers.
The fisherman was truly upset. A thin and cold sweat dripped down his face, he apologized:
— I can’t leave my mother, she is ill.
The young moorish cheered him.
— Under this stone there is a flow of water that will make wonderful cures. If you bring me the dirt, you shell tell your mother to come here, the day after tomorrow, and take a bath in the water she sees flowing.
The young man was thoughtful. She approached, almost touching him. Her voice was alluring. — Promise me that you will return here tomorrow! Promise me, for the life of your mother! He shook his head negatively. She chided him:
— After all, you don't love me!
— I love you, you know it. However ...
Zuleima interrupted him again:
— No… you do not you love me! Go away with you, and another young man like you will love me and will be powerful. Go away and don't come back!
The boy was distressed:
— Zuleima! Let me prove my love to you!
— So swear by thy God to bring me today the dirt that I asked for and you will came with me today to my underground Palace.
He paused again.
— And if I enter your enchantment will be undone?
She eluded the answer.
— If you go in... You will be the most powerful man in these lands! But you have to swear...
— Zuleima I...
A strong cry cut the words of young Antonio. Two of his companions came out from behind the bushes. One of them shouted
— Antonio! Don't swear!
The fisherman looked at them with surprise. But, all of a sudden, a huge thunder sounded.
The rock from which the enchanted moorish came out popped and out came a flow of warm water that trickled down the Sierra. In that same instant Zuleima disappeared. So, one of the boys who had followed the fisherman told him, as to wake him up from the dream he was in:
— Wake up, Antonio! We almost lost you forever!
The young man put his hands over his face.
— It all seems like a dream to me!
— Maybe. But it was a bad dream, that worked out wel when you woke up!
António closed his eyes. Later, sighing, he said only:
— Thanks for coming!
And taking notice of the water that trickled from the rock, he said:
— And this water? She said that under this rock was water able to do wonderful cures.
— Maybe. We can experiment.
Antonio shook his head in his hands. Everything seemed unreal. His companions approached. — Let's go! Your mother is waiting for us. Don't come here alone! We'll walk with you tomorrow and we will bring your mother. If the water can cure, we will make a hot spring here for relief of the sick.
António began descending the mountain, forlorn and then muttered:
— What a pity! She was so beautiful! So beautiful! And evaporated like smoke!
— But left you that hot water source.
— Yes, she left something ... that will make me think of her ... as long as I live!