Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The most interesting association I have with Pórtugos is the story of the Ermita de la Virgen de Las Angustias situated just outside the village above the fountain known as "Agua Agria".
One day, Ole who had to go to Portugos to buy some gas bottles, asked me to accompany him. Whenever possible, I never said no to such propositions, for Ole was an interesting and knowledgeable guide and I had an unsatiable thirst to learn about La Alpujarra that was soon to become my home.
We by-passed the turn off to the village and stopped on the roadside by the little chapel, surrounded by ancient chestnut trees. I looked inside through a tiny window carved in the wooden door. It was very simple and dark, lit up by a few burning candles. Nothing fancy about the altar or the wooden benches carved by poor and grateful people, driven by love and faith.
"In the old days", Ole said, "when La Alpujarra was inaccessible and few people left and few outsiders visited, there were no serious deseases here. The most common illness was anemia suffered mostly by women during and after childbirth. It was soon discovered that women who drank water from the fountain we shall now see regained their health. The locals believed that this water had miraculous properies and so decided to build a chapel. I am told," he continued, " that the first chapel was built in the 18c on the hill to the right and was moved to its acutal place in the 70s, possibly just before we came here".
The water was the colour of rust and tasted of rust. I couldn't even swallow the mouthful I took and just spat it back. How I wished I had a mint or a chewing gum to get rid of the after taste!
The village of Pórtugos had the same architectural interest as the other villages of the region. Maybe it wasn't as pretty as most. There was a lovely spacious village square & an impressive parish church.
A labyrinth of narrow streets with simple white houses on either side, a public wash-house or lavadero and threashing grounds here and there on the hills above are the only throwback to its Muslim past. It is claimed that until the 16c. there existed an Arab castle, but we found no remains to justify this claim.
Photos by William Read