Postcards of a Senior Summer Break
Seven days of sand, sun and sea in Parede´s beach
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The departure time is scheduled for eight am but some people can’t wait and get there an hour earlier, when the first rays of light bring another day of the rest of their lives. The euphoria is too big and difficult to control. Young like kids. At least in their souls, even if the body show many wrinkles and gray hair, inseparable friends on a trip that already goes long.

Today begins the week that many residents of São Vicente de Fora crave for. Seven days of beach, sun and sea. The vacancies are few and, as with so many other things in life, they also need to be lucky to secure their place on the trip and pay a symbolic price to be able to go to the beach of Parede, in the outskirts of Lisbon.

Of that handful of people, with bags filled to the brim with towel, snack, drink and sunscreen, none is less than 55 years old. Most are retired. A trip to the beach feels like winning a lottery ticket. Many of them are without the means for going to the sea, others do not even have the physical conditions to venture alone crossing the hot sand. Needs another pair of hands and legs, human crutches to get to the place where they will live unforgettable moments, moments they believed were no longer possible.

As the sun shines and warms the bones, they forget the low pensions. There is no cut announced by any government in the world that can make the sea less salty or make the clay stop exfoliating the skin. And thus they fight back the accrued loneliness of the year. And thus they create new friendships, which are the best the way to get a new family, to get to know your own neighbourhood.

At noon, when the sun is right above the gray heads, protected by colourful caps, it’s time to return to the city. That morning was so good. The Iodine erased the memories of ailments in the bones, the green algal mat was made just right for physical exercises, and the little pools in between the rocks were the best ever. And the blue sky also helped the blanket being knit grow a few more inches. The hours pass, the joy too. It is time to return. Dry up and go home. It was like this every day for a week. Next year there are more to come. For those who remain.