A Social History of the Algarve

Algarve could have been the Garden of Eden. Before the advent of the European Common Market, one could walk from farm to farmbuying every fresh fruit and vegetable imaginable. There was no such thing as you have to show a receipt for every thing in your basket. As a matter of fact, from the 1920's to 1960's many people on the small farm holdings still lived completely on a barter system. One would trade hisvegetablesfor a chicken, another would trade his piglets for some wheat to make bread and so it went. Every country house had a bread oven attached at the side. And the wood of the 'cistas' bushes that covered the hillsides was the perfect fuel. Probably quite similar to Ireland in those years Since there was so little communication, the country people were content with their lot.

A Social History of the Algarve

One rarelywent past the local village, because what would they see, just the same thing anyway. At the tri-monthly country dancesyou would meet your future bride/groom, who was from a village 10 k from yours. And so it went. Once married, a bride would rarely make the big trip back to her original home. No buses, no cars, only walking or cart.& horse. Every thing changed with the advent of TV & Radio and even more so with the EEC. But as much as TROIKA tried to regulate, the country people could still do their trades, and still be happy without a car. The prizepossessionwas a tractor no matter how old. The countryside was a poor but the people didn't know it and they lived in the sun for 8 months of the year, andbundledup with layer upon layer in the winter.As the towns became busier the young people gradually moved to the towns leaving the farms in the hands of the older generation.Gradually the older generation died off and left the ruins of houses that you see if you drive through the country today. But there is still enough farmers with modernized techniques to keep a watch over the that part of the country under production. If one were to bike through the country, to slow the pace down, one could see an incredible range of luscious fruit..

The Luscious Fruit Trees of the Algarve

A biker could certainly have a happy existence while hepedaledhis way across the Algarve's hills and dales. On his trip he would have no difficulty picking juicy ripe oranges the size of grapefruits, lemons the size of oranges as well as 'sweet' pink grapefruit! He could also enjoy 'nespras' and strawberries in the late spring, and avocados, medronho berries, plums, apples, peaches and boysenberries, & pomegrnate and grapes in late summer, along with fresh drinking water from the many springs. This has actually been done for ten years by a biker named Noel Tierney (an Irish Gaelic football hero) who likes nothing better than to bite into a bit of forbidden Algarve fruit from a farmers field! Remember don't climb the fences as it could be dangerous. These fruit trees also serve well to produce liqueurs, jams, andmarmalade'sof every nature. Honey is also collected on many hills. This really could have been the garden of Eden... a pity man had to come along and change such beauty! But if you venture into the countryside away from the tourists you will still see glimpses of Eden.