Xistopedia

Traditional boat race brings families and friends together again in the Zêzere

Traditional boat race brings families and friends together again in the Zêzere
people and traditions
This initiative, which has been held for several years, is a source of pride for the local community and is already part of the Village’s summer calendar.

Around 30 people took part, but many more gathered on 4 August to watch the traditional boatskills competition that takes place every year in the Aldeia do Xisto of Janeiro de Cima, right on the Zêzere river.
 

No one could tell us for sure how long this initiative has been running, but there is some data that is consensual, which is that the competition has been running for more than 10 years and this is one of the activities that already has a guaranteed place in the summer calendar of the Village.

Included in the programme of the usual “A Pé Pinhos de Janeiro de Cima” hike, which this year brought together about 150 people, the traditional boat race is more than enough reason to bring together families, friends, locals and visitors curious to relive or get to know a tradition that is a source of pride for the local community.

 


“I always leave here with my soul full”. These were the words of the coordinator of ADXTUR - Schist Villages Tourism Development Agency, Paulo Fernandes, after starting another edition of the competition. “The pole was a bit short, but it went very well and without incident”, he adds.
 


It is at least the third time that Jorge Martins has won this test of skill. “I’ve always taken part in the race, it’s been many years”, he says proudly. A pride that gains strength in the words that he says immediately afterwards: “I am the son of people who made boats and I have even made some”.
 


Albertina Dias, a resident of Janeiro de Cima, has always attended the event. She started taking part four years ago. “When I was young, I learned to lay the boat down. But then I never touched the rod again. In the meantime, I went for a ride on the big boat, tried it again and got it”, she told us. Since then, she has been a regular presence at the event.
 

Her husband, Américo Dias, has been taking part in the race since the beginning. “I know the river well, from the Zêzere gorge to Penedo do Barroco”, he assures us. He is therefore keen to participate in one of the traditions that mark the history of the village and help to keep it alive. “Villages cannot stop, we have to maintain our traditions while evolving”, he stated.

José Capitolino, from Tomar, was one of the newcomers. He has been watching the competition for a few years and has even been a referee. This year, for the first time, he decided to take up the challenge and move from the shore to the boat.“It went well, but I think I’m last”, he says cheerfully. After all, the aim is not the winning but the taking part and enjoying the river and the company of all those who, on this day, gathered at the Lavandeira River Park.

 

 

Project@X - Up this river

The day was also marked by the opening of the PROJECT@X - Up This River Exhibition at the Zêzere and the return of the boat produced as part of the project of the same name. After its maiden voyage on 22 July 2019, “Janeiro de Cima” – that’s what this contemporary interpretation of the traditional boat has been named - returned to the shipyards to prepare for the summer season on the river. On 4 August, it joined the traditional boats and delighted all those who wanted to steer it up and down the river.
 


In times gone by, the barca was the only means of crossing between the two banks of the Zêzere. It is one of the symbols of Janeiro de Cima and demonstrates the strong connection established between the population and the river.

As we heard several times throughout the day, traditions are to be maintained and so in August next year there is a new walk, a new race and certainly new get-togethers.

Text:
Andreia Gonçalves

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