August 9, 2018 by Eden Flaherty
The Week em Breve – August 9
Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Record Temperatures, Sustainable Supermarkets, Beach Fights, Sexual Services, Low Labor Costs, Train Troubles, and much more!
It is probable that nobody missed the fact that Saturday was hot. Like, really hot. You may be surprised to discover, however, that it was, in fact, the hottest day in Lisbon ever recorded. Within the city, there were highs of 44°C — that’s 111.2°F to our American friends — with it peaking at 17h. No wonder the streets were so empty.
While it’s easy to enjoy (or complain about) the hot weather, it has pretty serious side effects in more rural areas. Those based in Portugal will have no doubt received the warning message by SMS about fire risks, and the devastation can be seen in places like Monchique, where a fire burning since Friday reentered the village on Monday evening. This is common throughout the country and people should remain vigilant — no BBQs or tossing cigarette butts on the ground.
As the push toward a greener Lisbon continues, supermarkets are swapping single-use plastic for bulk purchases and reusable dispensers. You may have noticed the recent addition to supermarket walls of large, mounted dispensers for nuts, grains, chocolate, and a host of other items. It is worth noting, however, that from these dispensers people fill…. plastic bags! But, it is a step forward. Other shifts in supermarket culture include the use of materials such as sugarcane bagasse — a biodegradable material — for disposable plates, bowls, cups, and cutlery. Keep going, Lisbon!
We all know tourists leave Portugal laden with gifts for their loved ones, but what else do they have? STDs! Well, sort of. The increase in the number of tourists in Porto has led to an increase in the number of “sexual services” and thus, more sexually transmitted diseases. This includes HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis B, according to the president of the Institute of Public Health, Henrique Barros. This has led to a public health drive including leaflets at Porto airport on general and sexual health.
In what is normally considered a rather tranquil area of Portugal — a surfing village with more longboards than you can shake a stick at — events took a rather unexpected turn last Thursday. On the beach of Carcavelos, a fight between two boys escalated and drew a crowd of more than 100 people. The police eventually intervened, but not before chaos had erupted around unsuspecting beachgoers.
A recent report by the International Monetary Fund has found that Portugal has the lowest labor costs of any of the countries subject to IMF adjustment programs. It falls behind Greece, Spain, and Ireland, with massive decreases in labor costs between 2014 and 2016, only rebounding very slightly in 2017. While the IMF notes that this has helped these four countries “regain competitiveness,” it has caused internal problems, such as individuals being pressured into more precarious contracts.
Catching up with Comboios de Portugal
For those who have been following the news for the past couple of weeks, you will know that Comboios de Portugal has been having some trouble. Well, this week it looks as if three members of the company’s board of directors — Carlos Nogueira, Abrantes Machado, and Ana Malhó — are jumping ship. Additionally, CP suspended the sale of tickets at the weekend as the number of people traveling pushed onboard temperatures above their limits. Apparently, the AC units can’t handle it above 42°C. Furthermore, figures have just been released showing that CP has only used a tenth of its budget, which allows 44 million euros for the year. Despite having an increasingly large number of passengers, the state-owned company is spending less and less of their allotted piece of the state budget. Finally, the Cascais, Sintra, North, and West lines will have new, reduced schedules. However, according to CP, these changes will only be in effect until November of this year. Check out the full article to see if it affects you!
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!