Feb 10, 2013
Lisbon Stories (13)
(Dafundo quarter, Lisbon Coast) Many, if not most, of the ‘habitués’ of Euclides’s Café Africano are retired fishermen, unemployed workers, and homeless people. Unlike what would happen in any café of a more fortunate neighborhood, they aren’t required to consume. The sharing of space and time happens naturally.
The first to arrive sits at a table – most have preferred seats – and waits. It doesn’t take long before he is challenged. As the duel begins, other locals gather to witness the skill of the players and comment on the game. Quarrels are so rare an event that they become legend and are told in a murmur. The place has its doors always wide open, but not even the cold keeps the players at home: today, I’ve seen one of them appear with a pajama showing under his pants and sweater.
If for some reason there is no challenger, Euclides himself is happy to sit at the game table and be miserably beaten by the seasoned folk.