Servas Spain and Servas Portugal have been holding the so-called Iberian Meeting every year, for the past 4 years. It usually takes place in the Douro region, because Douro is a river that crosses both countries and it has breathtaking views. In Douro there are the vinyards, the beautiful walking paths, the tasteful food and many nice places to enjoy
This year, it was Portugal's time to host the Iberian Meeting. We started preparing everything in the beggining of the year, choosing a nice spot, sending out invitations, preparing interestind activities, that would attract both young and not so young members -- it was some work involved but we wanted it to be a memorable event.
So, on the 29th April, 42 members met in the Foz Côa Youth Hostel, full of enthusiasm and positive energy. The welcoming dinner was a moment to get acquainted, followed by a small workshop where members from Spain would talk about what they knew about Portugal (food and customs) and vice-versa. It was a special moment where we had the opportunity to talk about "fado", the portuguese national song, or about "bacalhau", the dried cod-fish that can be prepared in more than a thousand ways...and also about spanish geographical regions, authors and painters like Cervantes and El Greco, among other subjects.
On saturday we visited the Museu de Foz Côa where we learned more about the region and its ancient rock engravings. During the afternoon it was time to walk around the countryside, on ancient roman paths and visit another museum that had interesting things to admire such as a medieval skeleton and very ancient artefacts.
After dinner we gathered in the conference room, at the Youth Hostel, and we discussed some of the Iberian Peninsula History (for example did you know that Portugal was founded in 1143??), by Maria José Serpa. Afterwards it was time for our most recent member, Alexandra Luis, talk about portuguese women that have become famous in various areas such as sports (Rosa Mota), arts (Paula Rêgo), literature and women's rights (the 3 Marias who wrote together the "Novas Cartas Portuguesas"), journalism (Cândida Pinto), and most of all about Carolina Beatriz Ângelo, the first portuguese woman ever to vote in 1911, although the universal suffrage was only a fact after 1974, in Portugal
Finally on sunday morning we had a nice chi-kung moment with Carmen from Spain and then we took a train to Peso da Régua, enjoying each others company and the incredibly beautiful landscape. Arriving at Peso da Régua it was time to have lunch and say good-bye, returning safe and sound to our homes.
I am now looking forward to the next meeting, that will be hold in Spain.
Spain and Portugal have become closer and these meetings are undoubtedly a perfect excuse to see new and old friends. That's what Servas is about, to connect people all over.
By: Carla Kristensen