14th of August 2017
Once again Portugal is on fire.
This is my 7th summer in the country and fires have roared every summer and even into the autumn when October has been warm, which it sometimes is.
Portugal is a small country. Long and narrow. I live in the centre. Exactly in the centre.
Luckily for me I did not buy a house in the woods, when I moved from China. I bought a wonderful apartment with a view to die for. It was the space and the view that captured my heart when I chose the apartment. I see the mountains and the apartment is big. Just what I needed after my grand life in China.
Every summer I have thanked those who protect me, wherever they are, for making sure I did not fall into the temptation to buy a house in the woods, far from everyone. I did not want isolation from the natives. I wanted to live with the natives, to learn about the culture, to make native friends. That was what I did.
From my balcony I see over to Esphinal, which belongs to Penela Municipal but is not Penela. It´s a wonderful small place, not many houses there but just few minutes drive from my home. I could even walk over there, maybe half an hour. Here it is on a clear fire free day.
My first experience of the fires in Portugal was when I drove through them on my way back form Leiria. The police was ahead and I knew it would be safe. They told me so. Driving through a wood on fire is an experience you never forget. It lives in the memory but it is like living in a country of fire and ice. You can always expect the mountains to erupt but you don´t think about it all the time. One day there might be a huge earthquake and everything moves. This happened in Iceland when I lived there but it did not control my life. The same goes for the fires. We know they are likely to be active during the summer months but we survive through the year without worrying all the time. I am not afraid of them, just really angry.
These 3 pictures above are from 2012 and the fires are in Esphinal, just around the corner, seen from my balcony. The animals, the trees, the farmers crops all destroyed.
This summer, 2017, is my 7th in Portugal. I moved to the country in January 2011 and came from China. Every year there are fires during the summer months. Every year we ask WHY?
We know why. The arsenics love the fires and light them. They become famous. They are on the TV. The TV goes on and on and on and on all day long about the horror. The government does not have solutions. The courts say the people are mad and just let them go. They can not go to prison because they are sick. Seriously! This is madness. They should be behind bars. There is a petition now to make those people stay in jail at least 25 years.
Some of the foreigners think the reason is the Eucalyptus. Some of them even believe it is the heat.
This year we have had very little rain and there is drought around the corner. That does not help. In 2012 there was a lot of rain, a lot. I know because the living room walls in my apartment began to change from dry into wet ones. Now the government has made a committee to talk about the problem, the fire problem. They will talk. We talk a lot here in my land. A lot. Will they find solutions? I doubt it.
When I came home today from my Gym there were no fire clouds, at least none that I saw from my balcony. 15 minutes later it was there. When I drove to the Gym in the morning the air was thick with ashes. That was at half past nine in the morning. I don´t go out in the afternoon. The air is full of smoke and the ashes are all over. We have still got at least 2 hot months. The fires continue. The houses burn down. The people loose everything. Lives are lost. Something has to change but WHAT? The mentality? The culture? The punishment?
I don´t know how, but this has to stop.
The army is helping, the EU is helping, Spain is helping, France is helping, but that does not stop the horror. Help is wonderful but we need to change the culture.