New reserve, New Transport Laws, Doctor Shortage, São João etc.

TODAY’S PHOTO : São João Festa … last night’s festival in the real town called São João. Sorry about the picture quality, as I forgot to take a proper camera. See story later.

Front Page News : source : Diário de Notícias 23/6/2008

New laws that came into effect on the 20th May and apply to tourist transportation have not been communicated to or understood properly by the travel agents and transport companies, and many are now operating outside of the law. The laws which are along the lines of consumer protection, are stricter than those previously in place, and affect coaches and smaller vehicles and address in some detail the services they provide, including the programme and schedule. Fines for non-compliance range from €600 to €20,000, and the police, and transport and tourism officials, have the right to ‘stop and inspect’. It’s not clear exactly what the changes mean or the benefits for tourists though?

The Madeira archipelago already has several natural marine reserves being the Ilhas Desertas, the Ilhas Selvagens, at Garajau, and also Rocha do Navio, which are protected under law. But now the government intends to designate a fifth such reserve, which has already been submitted to the Regional Assembly for approval. The islands around Porto Santo and their surrounding sea will fall within the scope of the new legislation, which will affect commercial fishing, tourism, and the dispersal of effluents, as they presently operate. These coastal areas are home to a macro-habitat of animals and vegetation unique to this part of the world, and indigenous species that need special protection. Species around the area such as mackerel, chicharros, squid, etc. also find these waters a favorable environment to reproduce and hence attract larger species such as sharks, swordfish, whales, dolphins and turtles. Also around Porto Santo there are some special seas birds species. To avoid any confusion, the whole of Porto Santo will not be included, so for example I don’t think the ferry will be affected.

Other News :

Madeira already has a shortage of family, general medicine, and specialist hospital doctors, and over the next 10 to 15 years the situation is going to get worse. New doctors take a long time to train, and are difficult to retain, so the fact that 57% of the doctors here are already aged between 46 and 65 means they will be retiring faster than the ‘new blood’ comes in. In 2006 Madeira had 561 doctors, 2.3 per thousand inhabitants, somewhat lower than the national average of 3.5 per thousand. 58% of our doctors are male, the rest are female (just to avoid any confusion!).

I think I recall mentioning recently that Quinta do Lorde at Caniçal was one of 3 beaches not to get its ‘blue flag’ for water cleanliness … well that was rectified on Saturday. One of other towns, Machico, may not get it’s blue flag until the Summer of 2010, possibly sooner, even though the works there are practically concluded. No news of progress for the other beach at Câmara de Lobos.

A bit out of my league, but the ‘Chaîne of Rôtisseurs’ is opening a chapter on Madeira. The ‘brotherhood’ is a international gastronomic association of French origin. The chapter will be headed by a director at Reid’s Hotel, who has been a member for some years. The mark of the ‘Chaîne’, that can be found in the establishments whose professionals are attached to the brotherhood, is also a guarantee of quality. I thought that although not of interest to lower class mortals like me, there are more than one blog readers who have served time in The Prince Albert in Funchal, who might now be qualified and tempted to join the brotherhood.


OK, I know you are itching to know … yes I overcame my phobia for healthy exercise last night and walked, yes walked, to the mountain known as São João! Wow, it’s high. In fact it’s so high, that on a scale of 1 to 10 in height, it scores just below 9, and hence doesn’t appear on certain maps. In fact the town just above SJ is called Boa Morte (Good Death), because I don’t think there is enough oxygen to survive there.

I know São João is celebrated in several places, including Funchal, but there is no substitute for having the festa of São João in the real town of São João, not even with all the money in Funchal. I don’t know what sort of namby pamby affair went on in Funchal, but in the real SJ it was sizzling with something … but that may have just been the bbq chicken. Arrived just before 9pm, just in time to see the second half of the parade, with the town band, climbing the hill. The parade came in two halves, with about 10 people in the first half, and another 10 in the second. The parade went to the church with most of the rest of the population of SJ, and the missa (sermon) was broadcast outside for those of us unlucky enough not to be able to fit in. It seemed to be rude to eat and drink while that was going on, so I abstained, despite having a thirst big enough to wipe out at least two of the stalls.

When that was over It was time for the fressssh hot bolo do caco, oooozzzzing with garlic butter, yum. This was the cheap version of bdc … I know, as I watched it being made with nothing more than flour and water, but it tasted fine!

Then to a stall with ‘fresh cider’ very nice too, and after a general walkabout amongst the several hundred locals (and just one beer) it was time for the highlight of the night … the midnight sea dip! And they did, they went in their droves, kicking and screaming their way into the sea. I could still hear them when I went to bed just before 1am.

I have done the bigger touristy festas before, but this was the first ‘small time’ authentic festa I have been to and it was great … and that was just in the early part, as I imagine the real fun starts after the midnight sea dip. The people of SJ made so much effort to put on the festa, probably with very little money for preparation, or to spend, but they made it work like they were one big family. It’s in the diary for a visit again next year.

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7 thoughts on “New reserve, New Transport Laws, Doctor Shortage, São João etc.”

  1. Tobi emailed to say the box for making comments isn't appearing … but it's OK for me. I produced the blog slightly differently today, and that may have triggered something unexpected. I will go back to the old way tomorrow and see what happens. Sorry

  2. Hi all, im still here Der , just been a bit busy and tired.

    So Der you say you got to the top of the steep hill by about 9pm, but you didnt mention what time you set off lol lol, you must be feeling a bit trimmer now after that excercise.
    I went down to the Beach at Reis Magos, and wathched them all go for there midnight swim , they must be mad…
    but its nice to see so many people together at that time of night, and not one bit of trouble.

    Im one of the people who likes Nikita, but not to many, i will just drink one when i fancy a milk shake cause they make them nice and think for me in Nikita in Caniço, but much prefer my poncha.

    When is São Pedro? is it next month? never been to anywhere for that but RB is the place to be if im not mistaken????


  3. set off at 8pm Tobi, and I am trimmer since (did the beard). Poncha in Nikita size glasses would be a nice idea. It would bring a lot more truth to the expression "I am just popping out for a quick one".

    São Pedro is this weekend, the biggest festa in the Ribeira Brava calendar. Saturday night is the main night, but Sunday day and night will still be pretty busy. Sunday will be a public holiday here, so that's bad luck for many then.

  4. Der: Madeira already has a shortage of family, general medicine, and specialist hospital doctors.

    It certainly is a worry. I guess the only solution would be to improve the salaries and benefits package so as to retain, attract and encourage new doctors. But as happens in many other ‘poorer’ countries a lot of money and time is spent training doctors only for them to be lured by the Dollar or Pound signs flashing before their eyes. Look in any UK hospital and you will find doctors employed from all over the world.

    Ronaldo £200,000 per week – Doctors £???

    Der: In fact the town just above SJ is called Boa Morte (Good Death)

    (Some trivia)
    I always feel sorry for the poor footballer, Luis, who has the surname Boa Morte. It would give me the creeps.
    Figo, the former darling of Portuguese football, does have some connection with this island – In his name. Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo.
    Cristiano Ronaldo was named after the former President of America Ronald Regan. That can’t do his image much good…
    And what about poor Kaka!

    Der: I have done the bigger touristy festas before, but this was the first ‘small time’ authentic festa I have been to and it was great.

    Absolutely! In this case small is best. Apart from the New Years Eve festivities in Funchal we always go local for things like the carnival, festas and other social events. There always seems to be a better atmosphere, people are more friendly and personal and it is a lot more traditional.

    I would urge even the tourists visiting the island to stray off the beaten track every once in a while and discover some real local celebrations for a special night they would never forget.

    After creating the world God was so pleased with His work He gave it a kiss and Madeira was born.


  5. I went to Boa Morte a while back, and I think it's where people take their old cars to die Carlos.

    It's a job to find out about these little festas though. I have a page on the website with many listed, but in most cases I have no idea whether there is just a Saints Day (church service or something) or a proper festa with all the trimmings. I have been through all the Câmara (council) websites searching for info but it's very hit and miss. Der (the real one)

  6. Hi Der,now you've been up & down that mountain for a midnight swim you could carry on with your keep fit programme at this new complex under the airport.
    It's all free,tennis,footy,keep fit equipment etc.

    Could'nt get on the blog.

    P.S .bring your skateboard!!



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