The Times – Christiano Ronaldo

Alberto João Jardim was reelected as president of Madeira 12 days ago and one of his first decisions was to have Cristiano Ronaldo’s former house knocked down. Three days into his new term of office, a digger duly arrived and flattened it. “Maybe they will build a statue there,” Hugo, Ronaldo’s elder brother, said, sarcasm ringing in his voice. But it just so happens that the razing of Ronaldo’s house is a compliment, albeit a peculiar one.

Na excellent article written by Owen Slot, Chief Sports Reporter, for the Times Online (The Times and The Sunday Times) about Christiano Ronaldo childhood, his dreams and his family (what they say about him). Ronaldo who has embarked himself on the top of the world taking with him his Madeira provenance which is no longer a forgotten spot on the globe.

Click here to read the whole article

Cops and Robbers

(A word to the wise by Gina Leach)

A few weeks ago my father had an eye operation here on the island. Having spent a long day with him and my mother in the hospital I brought them home at 6.30 in the evening. Parking the car outside their house, Dad was still a bit doddery from his op so I very stupidly legged it out of the car to help him into the house without locking the car first. I must have been gone less than two minutes and on returning to the car I realised that my handbag was not there.

Panicking, I checked the house (in my old age I thought I might have taken it in and forgotten) then headed straight down to the Ribeira Brava Police Station. Slightly hysterical by this time as my bag holds my entire life, I reported the theft to them and look and behold, ten minutes later, they turned up with my bag. The thief had left it outside the next-door neighbours garage, all that was missing was my mobile phone (a birthday gift from my family) no money was stolen or cards.

Feeling a little shaken but relieved I went home bemoaning the fact that I had lost my phone but at least I had everything else. I also paid a visit to the local bar telling them what had occurred (they were all up in arms as it does not make the community look good) and one gentleman in there was fairly sure that he knew who had done it however I was fairly shocked to receive a phone call at ten the following evening from the Police saying that they had got my phone and could I come down and get it.

I cannot describe how delighted I was and when I collected it I don’t know who had the biggest grins, them or me!! I want to give a big thank you to the Police in Ribeira Brava for their efforts they are not just out there to get you for speeding!! This Island is on the whole safe to live on but there are always opportunists out there so do be careful.

You will find more of Gina’s Madeira experiences in monthly (free) newspaper The Madeira Times

Cristiano Ronaldo

Christiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo from the Madeira Island … seeks to be the best of the best (ever) in the world of soccer / football.

“Cristiano at 22 has definitely got to the level of the best player in the world. Thereafter it will be up to the people and coaches around the world to decide if he is as good as Maradona or Pele, but that has got to be the challenge for him now. That has to be his goal.”

The English newspaper The Independent published an article about the young star where they answer the question: Is he the best since Best?

The boy from the hillside overlooking Funchal on the Madeira Islands is still a bit of a mystery to the English public. He does not do many interviews, apart from the occasional tightly controlled magazine number which his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson approves, and he has a reputation for being a touch standoffish, perhaps a legacy of the child prodigy years. Ronaldo’s background tells you much about the man, but first to the most immediate question: can he legitimately be called the greatest footballer now playing in the world?

What do you think?

Carros de Madeira

These last Friday the people of Camacha were witness of hazardous speed limits breaking race.

It was the 3rd edition of the Carros de Madeira race. Reckless race drivers risked their lives on the streets of Camacha …. were hundred populace watched with fear in their hearts these phenomenon’s of the road passing by as greased lighting. And making it much more worse … it was raining!

See the video (click twice on the arrow) and witness it for yourself.

By the way … Madeira is sometimes translated by (for example) Google as ‘Wood’ which is not (always) correct because it is the name of the island …. BUT in this case you should read it as wood. The cars are all made of wood (Carros de Madeira = Wooden Cars) … except the drivers!

2nd by the way … I exaggerated a little bit above … (wink)

    Click twice on the arrow in the image to start the video. If this does not work, then go here to visit the corresponding YouTube page.

Fortune Seekers

The Madeirans are known for its emigration culture. Especially in the past young people seeking opportunities that the Island could not provide. They migrated to countries like Venezuela, Jersey, USA, Brazil, South Africa, Australia and more.

And then you wonder … what has become of these young fortune seekers from Madeira?

Some of them we can keep track on the media … such as Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro (professional Portuguese footballer). But there are also more who have reached a certain level of success.

Today I found an interview in the Sydney Star Observer with a Madeiran, who is a celebrity florist in Australia. His name is Ferdinando de Freitas, the man behind Garlands Florist, Sydney’s premier flora company.

It wasn’t until I was 18 that my parents decided to move to Australia. It was an unreal journey, as I had never left the island before, not even to mainland Portugal. Moving from a natural environment to a big city was hard at times and Sydney was really ugly back then.

Read the interview at Sydney Star Observer

Gay and Lesbian scene

Portugal, and also the Madeira Archipelago, has a long history of repression and public intolerance of homosexuality. Luckily these days … the voices of repression have simmered down and can be ignored … as Madeira has become generally tolerant of homosexuality, which was decriminalized in 1982, eight years after the Carnation Revolution.

While in Lisbon, Oporto and Algarve the gay scene is increasing, in other smaller cities and regions such as Leiria, Braga and Madeira the (local) gay and lesbian activity is still very repressed and discrete, although the gay community is actually much larger than it seems. In Funchal there are no specific clubs and bars for gays and lesbians, which is uncommon for a European city with over 100,000 inhabitants.

Unfortunately, there are still some anti-gay feeling among more conservative elements in Portugal. The consistently reactionary and influential Catholic church, for example, is still light years from accepting the homosexuality as normal. Also issues like single-sex marriage and adoption by homosexual couples still have to be resolved, as in other countries.

Other than that … gay and lesbian are most welcome as any other visitor here on Madeira. Only do not expect to find everything here (yet).

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill is one of the many great names the island of Madeira had the honour to have as a visitor. Other visitors we can recall are Empress Sissi of Austria, Emperor Karl I of Austria – Karl von Hapsburg (also known as Charles IV of Hungary), or George Bernard Shaw and so on.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-ChurchillSir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, a nature lover, visited the island not only for its landscape, the flowers, the beautiful scenes for his paintings, … but also to recuperate from the fatigue and illness that he started to surfer those days.

Accompanied by his wife Clementine and his daughter Diana, Churchill arrived in Funchal aboard the liner, The Durban Castle, on the 2nd of January 1950. They stayed at the Reid’s Hotel. Churchill worked on his war memoirs and was impressed with the various landscapes Madeira had to offer (and still offers) such as Camâra de Lobos, where he painted various pictorial images of the village.

Alberto Joao Jardim resigns

Alberto Joao JardimAlberto João Cardoso Gonçalves Jardim, (born Funchal, Madeira Island, February 4, 1943) president of the regional government of Madeira, resigns his office as a protest to the Portuguese government’s 2007 budget, which reduces fund for the islands.

According to Jardim the new budget would mean that he would not be able to complete projects undertaken during his 2004-2008 term. “This happens in the middle of our mandate. It’s a violation of our legitimate expectations“.

However the island is not in crisis as most people would expect when a government resigns. Since 1978 Alberto João Jardim (a Social Democrat) became successively and democratically elected for President of the Regional Government of Madeira all these years. He said he would run again in the next elections and “show the people of Madeira I am not escaping or jumping ship when times are hard.

His resignation will cause early elections of which the expectations are that he will win again and renew his leadership term till 2011. Actually you could say that this resignation is more kind of a ‘reset‘.