27 Feb 2024 Article Community

The UBUNTU meeting

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UBUNTU among the landscape of Rota Vicentina

Rota Vicentina coordinated the second training meeting of volunteers participating in the “Regenerar Odemira II” project. “Ubuntu” is the name attributed to these learning occasions, which take place every two months at different associations in the Odemira area, aiming to promote transversal skills and facilitate connections among volunteers.

So, on February 1st and 2nd, we, Martina and Nina, the current long-term volunteers of our Association, contributed to its realisation.

The term “Ubuntu”, of South African origin, embodies the essence of community and cooperation, as suggested by its literal translation: “I am because we are”.

Each meeting explores different themes, and this time it was dedicated to “the history and Portuguese culture in Alentejo”: a precious opportunity to explore the vast historical and cultural heritage of the territory that has been and will continue to be our home for the next eight months. Venturing into the villages, interacting with local organisations, and engaging with the people of the area, we deepened our understanding of the unique and diversified region of Alentejo, focusing mainly on the Odemira municipality. Our journey through the history and Portuguese culture in Alentejo was not only enriching but also a witness to the strength of collaboration and shared experiences in safeguarding significant traditions and aspects of the culture of its people and territory.

Our exploration started with a hike on the trails of the Rota Vicentina, “Senhora das Neves” Circular Route. The aim of this hike was to let the other volunteers meet the Rota Vicentina organisation and show an example of a landscape where it works. To create more engagement among the participants we create a game based on challenges to explore the territory, especially the natural elements that make it unique.

For lunch we went to a magical place, “Figueirinha Ecotourismo”, hosted by the owner Paula Silva. Their project is centred around creating a living space in harmony with nature to minimise environmental impact. Throughout the year, the site welcomes tourists and embraces the concept of glamping. This experience allowed us to explore a new approach to business that prioritises caring for the surrounding territory.

During the evening we spent time discovering a traditional Alentejo stringed instrument of the guitar family, the Viola Campaniça, in the “Centro de Valorização de Viola Campaniça e do Cante de Improviso” in São Martinho das Amoreiras. In here we met Carlos Loução who is a musician and teacher of this instrument and his father, a craftsman specialised in its production. We had a wonderful time learning the steps, the materials used and the tools of the manufacturing. We also had the chance to play the viola while singing! We ended the first day enjoying a delicious dinner together at the local restaurant, Poço Novo, offered by the President of the Parish Council of São Martinho das Amoreiras.

Throughout these two days, we were in the company of Jorge Vilhena, an archaeologist from the region. He took us back in time to discover the history of Alentejo through some iconic places in the area such as: the Pardieiro Necropolis in São Martinho das Amoreiras, the Santa Anica Chapel, the Mira River on the Odemira docks, and last but not least the cliffs of the Fishermen’s Trails in Almograve. Close to the last mentioned place we stop by the Harbour of Lapa das Pombas to have lunch with the fisherman Vitor Gonçalves and his son Leonel who kindly prepared a fish stew for us named “Caldeirada de peixe” with fresh fish caught by them in the morning. It was a special occasion where we could taste the variety of food products that the region offers itself: from the bread, the olives, the cheese… The meeting was organised by the President of the Almograve Parish Council, who prepared a delicious orange cake and handed out oranges to round off the meal.

All these experiences were possible thanks to the crucial support of the Junta de Freguesia de Almograve and S. Martinho das Amoreiras.

A special thanks goes also to: Jorge Vilhena; Sara Serrão; Paula Silva (of Figueirinha Ecoturismo); Filipa Curto our mentor; Maria da Glória Pacheco (President of Almograve Parish Council); Vitor and Leonel Gonçalves; Carlos Loução and his father; Poço Novo Restaurant.

Thanks to all of you for allowing this Ubuntu to come to life and giving us a valuable learning opportunity.

Martina & Nina


Nina Leroy

Nina nasceu em 1998 em Chartres, França. Lá estudou teatro e artes plásticas e trabalhou em escolas e em acampamentos de verão. É voluntária do Corpo Europeu de Solidariedade durante um ano na Rota Vicentina, no âmbito do projeto Regenerar Odemira II. Adora arte, natureza, cozinhar e viajar!

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