My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Praia da Luz

The tiny seaside resort of Praia da Luz in southern Portugal seems utterly unsuited to the magnitude of the story that has unfolded here.
New-build villas with terracotta roofs and palm trees; cheap and cheerful
newsagents flogging postcards, beachballs and inflatable sharks; a sandy,
beautiful golden beach across which a few families attempt valiantly
to gain some enjoyment from their holiday - yesterday a scattering of
toddlers played in the sand, but kept always within close proximity.

Narrow streets with cobbled pavements that lead to the sea. The village in Southern Portugal is a tiny resort that is almost wholly purpose-built for its livelihood: tourism.

The beach. Fireworks on Saturday marked the official end of summer and holidaymakers are thinner on the ground. Journalists take their place, talking urgently into mobile phones and pacing the streets in unseasonal suits in case they're caught by the Sky cameramen that stalk the town.

In many ways the church dominates Luz, standing within a space of its own and somehow exuding implacability with its blunt outline and plain white and yellow exterior. It has proved reassuring in this time of uncertainty, and on Saturday night, the church was full, with people forced to sit on the floor.

Cameramen wait outside the church. There are always a few there at the moment; Portuguese newspapers report daily that the police will at any moment begin excavations around the building. No digging yet though.

For me, the best two pieces of reporting on this story have both come from the Guardian newspaper's "Comment Is Free" page online. As far as I know, neither journalist is in Portugal and perhaps that gives them the distance that is required to see this thing clearly.
Jonathan Freedland's piece reminded me what great comment pieces are all about: someone doing the heavy thinking that most of us don't make time for, and therefore telling us things we don't yet realize - or are too frightened to admit - about ourselves.,,2167113,00.html

The other piece, by Martin Bell, is an indictment of our culture that makes for uncomfortable but necessary reading, even if it does call into question this very blog post.

My own piece is on Newsweek online:
though it is largely just a summary of what has gone on so far.

1 comment:

Mark Fletcher said...

Good work Esther. Very fine article and crazy to see you in print! Hope Portugal has some consolations.