I was tempted to title this post “The Unacceptable Face of Portugal” but perhaps it is not my place to be judgemental about other cultures.
Those who follow my blog will know that I hail from the UK but spend almost half of my time in Portugal, a country I love which is populated by exceptionally wonderful people. It was the people who attracted me more than the lovely weather.
A while ago I was in an out of town restaurant and there were some people eating what I thought were quail (codornizes in Portuguese). There was a good deal of furtiveness going on but when I asked directly it turned out that they were eating small wild birds that had been caught illegally. I should point out that there is a strong hunting tradition in Portugal which explains the almost total absence of rabbits and similar small wild animals, as well as very few small birds (plenty of seagulls).
Recently I was geocaching no more than a mile from a popular tourist beach, albeit on some waste ground that tourists wouldn’t visit, when there was a snapping noise and some minor pain in my fingers. I had inadvertently found a homemade bird trap. In fact about 20 of them – I tripped the others with a stick and removed them after taking a photograph.
If you look closely you will see that the trap has been baited with a large ant – which was still alive and wriggling.
I make no apologies for confiscating the traps, although maybe I should as it is none of my business and part of Portugal’s (albeit illegal) culture. Stinging fingers were another justification for removing the offending articles.
I have never participated in foxhunting, or attended a bullfight, but I collected birds’ eggs as a child and regularly swat flies with an electric tennis racquet. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!
But it raises the question “Does cruelty justify interfering with other people’s cultures, just because we don’t approve?”
What do you think?