Places

Bulgaria

"He'd pictured Bulgaria before traveling there: dark mountains, shadowy cities and a spot of light taking over the Black Sea." (The Sea in Casablanca) "Jaime Ramos wouldn't return from Bulgaria to stage the revolution. He'd simply gone with Emília to Sofia, after leaving Lisbon and Paris, and in Sofia they boardaded a smaller plane to the monumental amphitheatre on the edge of the Black Sea." (The Sea in Casablanca)




Caracas (Venezuela)

"He missed Caracas. From afar, as clearly as if he were there, he sensed the first days of mild springtime, sweeping fragrant through the city surrounded by hills and cut off by Cerro El Ávila. It would be springtime in Caracas. There's no spring in Caracas: the jacarandas in Candelária simply bloom again, the trees rise leafy and unkempt in Plaza Bolívar." (The Sea in Casablanca)




Chaco (Argentina)

"Everything else in Chaco, Corrientes or Resistencia made her feel profoundly nauseous – from the food to the politics, from the men (who she found ugly, most of them were of Indian descent) to the quality of the air, dry and scorching throughout the summer, pestiferous in the winter." (The Sea in Casablanca)




Douro (Portugal)

"He'd spent his teens in the hills overlooking the Douro river, high in the mountains, where it snowed and frost settled over the vegetable patches and the bogs they corssed at dawn when they went hunting, or when they drove cattle to the corral at a much younger age. If he focused hard enough, he could almost hear the shots fired through the morning air in those early morning hunting trips." (The Sea in Casablanca) "I was born behind that hill, the darkest one of the lot, the one where therer's no vineyard, no tree left to burn. That's where my village is." (The Sea in Casablanca)




Guinea

"I was a man from the mountains who'd rediscovered death in Guinea. I keep going back to that, I know, back to the jungle, the dust, the swamps in Guinea, the sand swept by the wind on the way to Casamansa, the drunken soldiers who hadn't realized they'd long deserted but kept on fighting. Sometimes, at night, I can still hear the G3s firing, the propellers on the choppers, the noise of the Fiats over the swamps, closing in on the shore. Then I was forced to become a communist, it was a kind of refusal, like being drawn to the abyss." (The Dope Collector)




Luanda (Angola)

"Luanda is an extraordinary place. The things that are coming to an end, the strip of blue over the bay, the rumours, the rains, the planes. Mostly the noise the planes make at dawn. The first sight of Luanda when the day breaks. The bay, the sea, the lights in the city; the first light of day seeping through the coconut trees; a car diving along the dry sandy shore towards the bridge that connects the city to the island they turned into a peninsula. Light shining low against the pavement, prececisely as night turns to day, the flight of a flamingo over the beach. It's 5 a.m., says the man on the radio." (Far From Manaus)




Pocinho (Portugal)

"Do you know what the creator of Barca Velha said when they suggested he moved to Pocinho, here in the Douro region? That if he wanted to live in Africa, he'd move to Luanda, which at least was on the shore. I added that bit about the shore, I don't think he mentioned anything about the sea. He just considered what he knew: fifty degrees Celsius in the summer. It's Pocinho, where the finest wines in the country are produced today. That's where this hellish heat comes from. The stifling air, the unbearable heat that lasts three quaters of the day." (The Sea in Casablanca)




Portugal

"Epitome of the old regime. A country that produces little more than merchants, illustrious families, surnames and holiday homes. That's what's wrong with Portugal: incest. Endogamy. Bankers whose youngest daughters married boys who could dance in the 70s. Then the boys got older and married other women, younger and sillier, but they maintained the original brand. Sons who inherited a surname and were later hired by a bank, or married new wives whose names are linked to acronyms like LLC or LLP. The same thing happened two hundred years ago. A grandfather headed a cabinet of state, being the godson of an advisor to the crown. A grandmother kept a lover who was a diplomat in Rome. Our archives are chock-full of cases like that. Teens who met down at the horse track, riding horses whose lineages were themselves intertwined. Holidays in Moledo, boat rides in the Minho river, breaks in the Algarve. No. Algarve came later, it's a recent fad. Algarve came after rock & roll, after family sanctioned bikinis, after the second or third divorce, when morals cease to be a gateway and become a narrow corridor, a passageway, a genuflexion. There were powerful uncles, heads of cabinet and undersecretaries working with Salazar, people who had servants standing ready by the phone during the holidays. Salazar might call, though he never did. His excellency didn't waste money on the phone – he wrote letters, haste was a bug he didn't catch." (The Dope Collector)




São Paulo (Brasil)

"Everything gets lost in São Paulo. Everyone gets lost in São Paulo. Even the locals lose their way in São Paulo." (LdM) "People often get killed in São Paulo. This city – how shall I put this, Ramos? It's a city where killing comes quite easy. For years, bishops from Latin America and other church officials, mostly Spanish Jesuits, in the 18th century, asked the Pope for permission to raze the place. The Pope wouldn't let them, though the charges they levelled were serious. They said the people in São Paulo lived in terrible sin. There were Indian slaves and European heretics here. There was no respect for God's laws." (Far From Manaus)




Ushuaia (Argentina)

"The scenery, no matter how you looked at it, wasn't all that different from Chaco: horses in the pastures, cattle hemmed in by fences that circled private lands stretching for miles along the roads that came from the desert. Adela arrived in Ushuaia after spending three days in Comodoro Ribadavia, because the ship needed resupplying and – rumour had it –, because they needed to replace the captain, a drunk porteño who dozed off on deck, even when it rained or the winds blowing in from the Valdes Peninsula turned the sea into a battlefield." (The Sea in Casablanca)




Detective Jaime Ramos by Francisco José Viegas