A Pledge in Évora

Trip Start May 30, 2012
Trip End Nov 07, 2012

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Flag of Portugal  , Alentejo,
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Evora was different from the other places we have been in Portugal so far. It had no ocean, or rivers, but is completely surrounded by a medieval wall. Every single street is made of cobble stone, but they aren't littered with cigarettes as much as the bigger cities. Most of the buildings are white with yellow door and window trim. On most of the streets you can barely fit one car. Evora also has an ancient roman temple, walls, a bone chapel, a cathedral, an aqueduct, and a roman bath. Because Evora was under control by many different groups of people, it has a unique diversity to it. Our hostel was located at the main square in the middle of Evora. Nelson, the owner, saw us coming on the street and showed us up two flights of stairs to the reception area. Our room was another flight above that, and once we dropped off our bags, Nelson told us to follow him up one more flight. This took us to the roof terrace. Crazy, awesome views of all those beautiful streets and buildings I was talking about. And we could go up here anytime we wanted to!! Needless to say, we ate as many meals as we could up there, and watched a couple sunsets. We quickly found out another thing about Evora, that it was a university town, and the students were in the middle of "pledging" aka, freshman hazing. Except the pledging doesn't last for a couple days or a week, it lasts for a month and a half! Morning, noon, and night we could see and hear the first year students being ordered down the streets by the older years. It was their right of passage to the black robe and capes. All through Portugal, university students would wear this Harry Potter style black robe and cape, pretty much exactly like in the movies. Except uni students in Portugal had them way before Harry Potter was dreamed up. No doubt J.K. Rowling got the idea from these students during the time she lived in Porto. We have been seeing Harry Potter stuff everywhere we go for two months now! I don't think the pledging was in the books though. We saw the first years dressed up in plastic bags and some of the boys in purple tights and a purple bra. They were all told to sit together in the hot sun, and then they got a bunch of red wine poured all over them. Shortly after, they had flour thrown on them and all the while they were chanting different songs. I guess it is just a way of life for Portuguese students. They all had smiles on their faces and there didn't seem to be any bad blood. I'm just wondering when they go to class? No sign of economic crisis with these students. Speaking of economic crisis, we got to witness our first European protest, just outside in the main square! It was a peaceful demonstration, but everyone was very enthusiastic. I was talking with Nelson, and he said that the people were upset about certain budget cuts, like financial aid for seniors' medication. I asked him how Portugal can get out of it's current economic crisis without cuts like that. He said that there are a lot of really rich people in Portugal. People with way more money then most people, and he thinks those people should be taxed more. He says the current government has been in power for over a year and a half and things have just gotten worse. The protest ended with everyone raising their arms, Portuguese flags waving, and the national anthem blaring over the speakers. I had a couple interesting talks with Nelson over the couple days we stayed there. He is a very caring and helpful man. He also gave Jess and I some very useful advice when we head to Morroco.

We went back up to the terrace on our last evening, and enjoyed the warm light breeze. Soon we headed off to bed to try and a good night sleep because the next day we were catching a bus back to Lisbon, then a night bus to Seville, Spain.      

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mil on

i had read about evora; it sounds gorgeous. i love that architecture. can't wait for your next entry! love

Mutti & Father on

I bet those sunsets would have been very lovely to watch.Glad you get to share so many different & unique experiences together. Dad & I were able to go for a nice fall bike ride last Sunday afternoon. I never grow tied of looking at the fall colors & mountain view. Miss you both alot, love always

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