Monchique (Fragment #04)

– “Ó vezinhe [oh neighbour]” – I shout to António. He has a bag in his hand. He puts it down and waves. It’s feed for the chickens. I already know it will take about 20 minutes, the same as me.

– “Can I come over?” – I shout with clasped hands. António hears very well, but has difficulty in speaking loudly because of a problem he had when he was a boy. So, he silently just nods.

I watch him as he enters the henhouse, bag in hand and a basket hanging from his belt, to collect the eggs. He’s a good man. And just as well, being my front neighbour, he’s also one of the few who’s stuck around. As have I. We only have each other. There are some other neighbours here, but they are foreigners, some French on one side and some English on the other, who bought the land to plant high walls all around. They are shut in there, retired, waiting for death, which will come, toasted by the sun, which is why they came here. They never go out, we never see them, only the delivery vans that go in there.

António was widowed early, before they could have children. I never married. We’ve been here together since we were born a year apart. We discuss farming, we share tools, we watch football matches together, on Sundays we both walk to the village. And we share a passion. Music.

For many years we’ve been playing this game, we lend each other a record for two or three days, and when the other one returns, he adds another record from his collection. I have his here to return, Neck and Neck, by Mark Knopfler with Chet Atkins. I’ve listened to it several times. It is very good.

I look outside, at the sky, at the weather. This early winter brings a certain melancholy, lulled by the cold air coming down the mountain. I grab Le Pas du Chat Noir, by Anouar Brahem. It is perfect for these days. I take both records and get ready to leave. I hesitate. It rained tonight, the threshing floor downstairs must be flooded, I’d better put on my wellies. All I have to do to get to António’s house is walk down this slope, cross the sheep pasture, cross the board over the stream and climb up to the house. Luckily my neighbour lives just opposite, it’s only 20 minutes to his house.

I take a basket with me, and on the way back I take the opportunity to pick up some sweets. Or I pick some on the way home, which is the way I leave some with António. He loves mushrooms too.

Carlos Norton

Published on 22-11-2022

Technical file

Sound recorded with Roland CS-10 EM binaurals


Monchique (02.11.22 ; 10:43)

37º 18′ 10,26”N ; 008º 35′ 37,16”E

Recorded in the Serra de Monchique, in a rural area on the southern slope, at an altitude of 500 metres.

To know more:

The Neighbour in Front (5 Neighbours in 5 Fragments)

Ficheiros audio

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LATITUDE: 37.3179879

LONGITUDE: -8.5561706