Festival Forte – Montemor-o-Velho

Thick. I understand why the English call it like that.

I look out of the window and see their brand new Mercedes.

Suspecting the worst

“Oh boy” I sigh, “a thick old man in a fat new car.”

Now know exactly what I mean – this represents a huge risk for stringy questions, misunderstanding, to explain everything again and again, and with a little bad luck they look at you like you’re a badly closed garbage bag.

And they don’t understand that there are oyster shells glued to the wall, or that there’s a glass table with coloured pieces of glass underneath. They don’t understand that everything is open, nor that they can’t find a receptionist. Nor the Fancy DressingRoom, nor the eucalyptustree as a coat rack. Nor anything we have here.

It just takes up a lot of my precious time

Most of the time there’re no surprises, with thick people in fat mercedeses.

Please, don’t get me wrong! There are lovely, charming, intelligent, wonderful people driving new mercedeses! But mostly it’s people like this. People with too much money for their imagination.

And I just wanted to finish cleaning this apartment before lunchtime. My stomach is growling, but it must wait. First the apartment. But no. First this, because otherwise

they ring the bell

and I have to go to them anyway.

(At the entrance to the bathhouse hangs an old-fashioned bell. People who come here often, to drink something for example, know the system. If you want something, you ring the bell. There is a small written explanation at the side how it works. Simple. Ring the bell. Someones comes.)

The lady walks into the bathhouse, in her colorful all-concealing dress. She’s dazed. They do not understand what this might be, a child can see that. Her gray gentleman walks just a little behind his colorful wife – why is he here, what is this weird mess? But hey, she wanted to get out to see, and then it’s a done deal.

The lady immediately asks how it works because they hadn’t met anyone, and everything is wide open. Yes, that’s something you can do out here. I guess you can go on a holiday and you can leave everything open, but I’ve never tried.

I don’t go on a holiday

“Where are the baths, then?” she asks, as if I would press a remote control and suddenly there appears the blue-tiled, luxury pool with a fountain, surrounded by private cabins with professional smiling masseuses.
I sigh silently. I force myself into an American smile and some patience and say: “Look around here, this is the old bathhouse, it’s old, it’s exactly as it was 100 years ago when it was built.”

She gazes and dazes

Mas como funciona? – How does it work?”
I tell my usual story. It functions like a bathhouse, you can take a bath, but it is not an official health spa. There is no doctor, there are no treatments. There used to be, but not anymore.

The water still does its work, it cures skin diseases, and it is analyzed each year. So, it is yes and no a health spa.
The water is wonderful, but the building around it is a bit outdated. It is more of a museum, actually. The prices are also old-fashioned: a bath of 30º (skin diseases) costs 2.50€ per bath, a hot tub (good for your bones) 3.50€.

“And you just have to take a bath?”

Uh, yeah. You take a bath – um banho de imersão. Plunge in the bath – you could translate it like that.
She almost falls backwards in surprise, that you simply could just take a bath in a spa.

You see pictures appearing above her head of jacuzzis, pools with those things syringed in the side that bubble, stainless steel fountains where you can be Bo Derek under, modern tiles in a room with a light plan.

All those modern things that are everywhere

so that you do not know whether you are in South Africa, or in Rio de Janeiro, Dubai or Paris.

All those things that we do not have. We have mosaic in the bathhouse, baths on floorlevel, water flowing always and a hundred-year-old polished concrete floor. And it is quite dark – that’s great when the sun always shines. A treat for your eyes.

It begins to dawn on the gray gentleman. We are now in the hall, the entrance of the bathhouse. He picks up one of our cards. You never know. Maybe one day, she gets it.

I have already explained so much, I’m not going to say that we have such a great promotion from September and on: 2 people, 2 nights with breakfast for 60 euros.

They will never do that anyway. Her dress would not feel at home.

There’s a point here. Do I mind?

Let’s go on with the apartment. I know those four guys who rented it. They come already for years at the end of August. Very nice guys. They go to the festival Forte in Montemor-o-velho.

No idea what kind of car they drive.