Postcard from Coimbra, Portugal: Parting Shots

Don’t know why I haven’t shared more sidewalk shots, as we spend so much of our time walking them. This is the only one in this batch of photographs, but Portuguese sidewalks tend to be incredibly beautiful with varying geometric or lyrical designs. A culture paying artistic attention to what lies underfoot fills me with admiration.

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While females are associated with fado music in much of the country, Coimbra’s fado traditions are associated with the male population of the University of Coimbra. Rather than hear it in a club, we went to listen to the songs of loss or longing as preserved and presented by the nonprofit organization of former students, Fado ao Centro. Here, the male vocalist sings accompanied by a classical guitar and a 12-string Portuguese guitar.

The song we recorded is one of courtship, sung below the window of the target of affection. If the woman favors the attention, she signals by turning the light in her room on and off three times. Those gathered around in the street signal their appreciation of the talents of the musicians not by applause, but by clearing their throats three times at the conclusion of the song of yearning.

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