Xistopedia

André Claro

André Claro
people and traditions
Larger than life. After all, that was the size of what he could see from his village, Aigra Velha.

(1960-2011)
I heard you left. We don’t know where you are right now. Maybe these words will find you. We found you in Aigra Velha, when the village was not yet “do xisto”. You were simple - you were always simple - but you understood much about the complexity of things. Which did not scare you.  You were a jack of all trades. But always committed to each of them.

The isolation of your village could not isolate you from the world. And, perhaps because you were closer to heaven there, you foresaw the future and easily grasped the meaning of new ideas. You believed, when tasks and projects seemed impossible. That’s why your face was on many of them.

We want to thank you for having spread the word and moved many others in the Aldeias do Xisto project. Many stones that built it were laid by you.

Humans are the size of their souls. And your work was so immense that a little bit of it must still be there in each of us. And there are many of us who have felt this.

A big hug.

Text: Aldeias do Xisto Guide, Foge Comigo Editions - Destinations Guides

SHEPHERD, BEEKEEPER, BRICKLAYER... AND MUCH MORE

He comes from the Aldeia do Xisto located at the highest altitude - Aigra Velha. And he also wanted to reach as high as possible in terms of his knowledge. Officially, he stayed at school until the end of primary school, which he completed at a school 10 km away from his home. His parents let him order some books that came with the postman. They were his company when he took his flock up the mountain. He also learned about the mountains, the stones, the trees.

“ - He was very smart.”- they told us. The knowledge he acquired allowed his vision to soar beyond the limits imposed by the peaks that surround his village. He was a shepherd. Beekeeper. Bricklayer. Forest firefighter. And much more. He mastered the use of fire to create pastures without harming nature. He was the first shepherd to give an interview arguing for the Nature 2000 Network. If deer came to eat the cabbages from his garden, it did not matter: he liked to watch them from the windows of his house.

He could have left and wherever he went, he would have been successful. But his dream was that everything would improve and everyone would help.

From organising traditional games and founding the Improvement Association to setting up forest fire defences for the villages, André led with the concensus of all. When the time of the Aldeias do Xisto programme came, he was the one who enthusiastically brought together the inhabitants and owners of Aigra Nova, Aigra Velha, Comareira and Pena to do something that he foretold would be good for everyone.

He was doing a favour, helping others, and it gave him real pleasure to do so. Always available, always supportive. If the solution was not in the villages, he would come down from the hills and approach any organisation. He was recognised and asked for by everyone. He was able: he knew the mountains like the back of his hand. Whether in an engineering plan or a computer monitor. The man who was devoted to everyone forgot himself. He never asked for anything in return. A smile, a handshake, would be enough for him.

He was always optimistic even when everything was difficult. Where willingness was lacking, he was always the first, committed volunteer. Now that he is no longer here, he is greatly missed. But his dream continues.

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