When this café opened 60 years ago it was always full of people and there was always lots going on. Men came here to have lunch and dinner, to drink medronho, whisky and moscatel, the women also came in, but always at their husbands’ sides, at that time it was rare for a woman to go into a café, especially alone. This started changing a long time ago, but over the last 20 years it has sped up. Not only the habits, but also the surroundings have gone through many transformations: this property used to be a backyard with a lot of different varieties of trees, and most of the houses around here were constructed more or less in the same period in the ’60s. But since they were first built, these houses and shops have remained unaltered. In the past years a lot of foreigners came here to work in agriculture, which in my opinion is good for our country and gives power to it. Rota Vicentina is also very important, it is something new, and gives value to this land.
I was born in Almograve 84 years ago, my dad was a farmer, and when he finished working on the land we moved to Zambujeira do Mar, where we lived till I turned 25. We were 12 siblings, but one died aged 2. The money we earned in the beginning we gave to our parents to sustain the house, and later we started to have our own lives. I studied for 4 years, and I really loved it, but my dad didn’t want me to study, he wanted me to work in agriculture. I also enjoyed dancing, but I could only do it at Christmas, Carnival, Easter and Festa de São João, because my parents didn’t give me permission, it wasn’t like nowadays, the life was different.
I met my husband in agriculture, he was 7 years older than me and we worked at the same property. A man suggested to my husband –to- be that I would be good for him for his whole life. I realized this man loved me, and my parents also loved him, so I was playing hard to get with them. We got married and when my husband bought this property, we built this house, and he surprised me with the idea of offering me this space so I could run my own business here. I have lived upstairs since the beginning, where we also rent rooms, and based on his suggestion I started to run a café and a restaurant down here. During the daytime he worked on the land, and when he finished he came to help me in the café.
I get up at 9 o’clock, I take a shower, get dressed and around 10 o’clock I come to the café. I have my breakfast, lunch and dinner here, and then I watch a little bit of TV. Here I always have company, I talk to the people, play cards with them, I read newspapers and magazines. When I was younger, the café was open everyday from 6.30 till midnight, so I never had time for anything else besides running this place, but luckily I have had some help, a woman has been working here for 27 years.
I love this place, but I prefer working in agriculture, because I grew up in that. But I wouldn’t do anything differently, even if I could have start all over again. I feel comfortable in this house, I love the people around here and their company, I don’t like to be alone. My only advice to myself would be to study, it was my passion, and fortunately my son could achieve it, even if I couldn’t.
Otília Maria Jacinto Martins
The photos were taken in A Pontinha, in São Teotónio.