How many of you are out there feeling unhappy, depressed, anxious and, on top of that, feeling so guilty for feeling so sad? After all aren’t we supposed to be grateful for what we have? Yes, we are. But if as humans we always just felt grateful for what we had, then we wouldn’t be where we are today, as a civilisation, as a society. Form wars to riots, from breaking the paramounts of the impossible, we’ve become who we are today. That is very true for me at least.
And surely very true for the people who live in Gerês. Even when facing the majestic, intimidating mountains, with their slippery slopes, their loose huge rocks, the hunger of the wolves and the bears, outstanding bravery was needed to break through the wilderness and conquer some of the land from Nature. While I tremble of vertigo just to be able to admire the spectacular sights, others excavated the rock, facing death just below their feet. They collected the heavy rocks one by one to build crippled little houses. They’ve guided the cows, the goats and the sheep to their steep lands. In summer they endured the hot days to plant and grow enough crops for winter. In winter, they faced the freezing cold winds stoically, perhaps relying in a weak fireplace within those cold handmade walls.
How did they do it? How do they still do it? Living such simple and harsh lives, expecting nothing more than what destiny brings to them. Perhaps they accepted how humble and small they really were. That’s what everything surrounding you there whispers in your ears. Or because they had faith that something or someone was looking after them. Faith is such a powerful thing. Signs of religion were and are everywhere.
The village we visited is name Pitões das Júnias. Very close to the border with Spain, it is located 1,1KM high, being one of the highest villages in Portugal, with just around 160 inhabitants back in 2011. It is one of those places where the silence can be deafening.
We stopped for a coffee in the local tavern. Dogs were walking around lazily, with no leach, looking at us and smelling our strange odour, but barely reacting to it. There were crosses everywhere, and at some point there was the smell of freshly baked bread. So silent, so peaceful. such a slow living, but I’m sure it can be a happy one. Just not for me, which for some reason made me sad. Why do I need to be tired, stress, anxious all the time to feel that I’m alive? Why couldn’t I be happy living like that, there, just waiting for destiny to decide what my life should be?