Soccer, Hiking and My Love of Madeiran TV
Trip Start Sep 05, 2012
27Trip End May 16, 2013
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I finally worked up the gumption to get out of the house for more than just a brief walk to the store for more Oreos last week, heading into Funchal to see a soccer game. They actually have two Portuguese First Division teams in Madeira, Maritimo and CD Nacional. And, despite supposedly representing the blue and white collar sections of Madeiran society respectively, both play in pretty shitty stadiums. I went to see Maritimo take on Rio Ave (from some little hill town on a river in northern Portugal) at Estadio dos Barreiros, an old and famous coliseum dug out of the side of a hill, which explains why its name translates to Loam Pits Stadium
The game itself was pretty exciting, ending in a 1-1 draw. Although Rio Ave definitely had the best of the play and should have won it in the late going when Bebe, a cocky young fellow with a crisp new mohawk who was recently acquired on loan from none other than Manchester United, went in all alone but fired high over the net and then ran around like a dog with his tail on fire for a while trying to convince the refs that the only way a supremely talented douchebag like himself could possibly have missed the net on a clear breakaway was because someone was tugging on his jersey (see, like this, tugging like this!) even though there hadn’t been anyone with a semi-trailer’s distance of him at the time. He was ignominiously substituted out less than a minute later. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Unfortunately incidents like that were one of the main things I took away from the game
A few days later, after, you know, I’d recovered from all that excitement and everything, we ventured out on a hike across the middle of the island. It was referred to as the “Highest Peaks” hike, not surprisingly because it hit the three highest peaks on Madeira (all at around 1,850 metres above sea level)
A couple random observations about Madeira:
Even though English has no official place here almost everyone we have met speaks at least some, and most speak it pretty well. We have four theories to explain it. 1) More and more people speak English everywhere these days 2) As a cruise ship port they receive their fair share of English speaking visitors 3) Portuguese is a seriously ridiculous language to speak or understand so they just don’t expect it from foreigners (unlike Spanish) 4) Also unlike in Spanish speaking countries, in Portugal the American TV shows are not dubbed, only subtitled. Which means built in practice on a daily basis, especially for the younger generation
Speaking of TV, they only have commercials in between shows, never breaks in the middle, and the commercials only ever seem to be for other TV shows. Maybe TV revenue is all from subscription here already (because it’s definitely headed that way in North America soon enough). Besides that, and more interesting to me, is that they don’t have set times for their shows. They just run as long as they run, and the next one might start at 12:56 or something like that. Then the next day the same show might start at 12:39. I can see the benefits of having shows appear at predictable times instead, but there is also something to be said for not forcing them to fit an exact 22 or 41 minutes plus commercials format.
Well, we are down to our last week and a half on Madeira and looking forward to Carnival starting this weekend. Supposedly one of the best and biggest Carnival celebrations in all of Europe, it officially starts tomorrow but really hits its stride Friday with the morning Children’s Parade, followed by the afternoon Old People’s Parade, leading up to the evening Transvestite’s Parade (reputedly mostly just a bunch of punks stealing their mom’s bras for the night, but still). The festivities last all weekend, culminating next Tuesday with the Open Parade, where anyone can do basically anything, is more or less how I interpret it. Mardi-Gras-ish, I suppose. Should be fun, with a boob or two here and there.
If you feel like reading something I put a lot more work into than this, check out my book Random Acts of Travel: Featuring Trepidation, Hammocks and Spitting.