Where modern and interpretive Oriental Art meets Portuguese vineyards and larger than life Buddhas, yes that all coexists at the Garden Eden located in the Quinta dos Loridos in Bacalhôa.
To think that time has past so quickly, so swiftly that we’re closer to a year to the date that I was ringing in the start of Spring, exploring the unusual warmth of March, celebrating my grandmother’s 90th birthday, who sadly didn’t make it to see the rest of her 90th dance around the sun. It’s sad that life slipped away from me, that I allowed so many of my travels and adventures to continue to become further memories, allowing them to pile up without sharing their beauty and lovelies with you all.
It was the Saturday after my lovely grandmother’s birthday, my father and I, not ones to stay around the house, especially one in a city and not do anything; hopped in the car after an early breakfast. We made the scenic drive to the loveliest authentic medieval town of Obidos, then made our way to Bacalhôa, to the Quinta dos Loridos and the area known as the Garden Buddha Eden. Yes, you guessed it, it’s got plenty of Buddha figurines, along with endless modern art sculptures – too many to see in an afternoon, but we did our best.
The shady collection of African sculptures, with taller-than-the-eye-can see bamboo and palm trees were a cool refreshing treat under the warm late afternoon sun.
Fun interesting fact, at least for me, this African Garden is dedicated to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, who for over thousand years carved stone by hand into works of art like these. They believe in ancestral spirits known as “Vadzimu,” their sculptures demonstrate the union of the two worlds: physical and spiritual. It’s known that for these artists, each stone has a living spirit which influences what it will become. It is quite easy to tell their beautiful creations are art that “frees the spirit” from these different natural stones.
Golden hour was approaching, and it certainly brought a beautiful lighting onto these magnificent creations!
To fact, the Buddha Garden Eden is currently the largest Oriental garden in all of Europe! Who would’ve thunk it??
When casually, but blissfully strolling along the more forest-like sculpture walk around the pond, you do get a tranquil and peaceful feeling, the kind I feel like you’d definitely get when visiting a true oriental garden.
You would think the giant buddhas and sculptures would evoke some sense of tranquility, but their popularity and “touristy” attraction does take that away a bit. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t warn you, that the Buddha Garden Eden is a bit of a “touristy” destination. While it certainly is a large beautiful garden with plenty I recommend to visit, even if you’re not an art aficionado.
Yet, I would still recommend aiming to go at a time that receives less visitors. Plus you can do this lovely spot pretty quickly, have time to cool off at their cafe, enjoying a chilled wine or espresso alongside the grand fountain, and still have time to explore the area around to places like Peniche, Óbidos, like we did on our visit, or Caldas da Rainha and Bombarral.
And so here I am on a “I’m a little sunny, but mostly cloudy – started with snow not it/s melted” kind of Monday afternoon, the first Monday, the first full week, of the new year, of 2020. Only I’m here, pausing every so often to hear the words of Alec Murdoch’s beautiful voice and songs, to realize that this memory was very close to a year. How could time simply going by that fast? But also even more devilishly, how could it feel like no time has passed at all?? That in a certain way, things are still the same, small things have made quite the impact, while certain things have only changed slightly for the better.
Like a passing. It’s interesting to think that in a moment someone you love, one of your Grandmothers who you wished had more time to spend with, had less than the thousands of miles of ocean that separated you. I thought the two times I was lucky to see you in high spirits including your 90th birthday this year, all high-cheeked dimple smile faced, and in the summer, admiring me from the corner of those high cheeks holding up your glasses peering over at me while I snuck in some work.
The moments we found out of your passing, the minutes, the indecisiveness of buying airplane tickets, the throwing of items we thought would match the expected dreary weather into our small suitcases — those moments seemed to fly by as they were happening. Except the waiting. The waiting….to go to the airport, to get on the plane, to get off and drive towards my aunt and my darling grandmother, that waiting felt long and drawn out, not necessary in the any way.
But the memories of all those moments, the tidbits of moments shared with family and loved ones during those few days, they all now linger in slow motion. Over and over, the sadness and heartache, as if happening in real time but slower, more impactful. But then my mind quickly wants to think of happier memories.
I bring my mind to think of times and moments where my Avó Irene was here, creating childlike, nostalgic, happier and healthier memories.
Maybe it might be different when back in Portugal for my usual time away, but for now I’m taking each emotion of grief and mourning as it comes. That feeling we Portuguese always talk about,
it certainly lingers on when you lose someone. Saudade. Saudade of a beloved person, memory, experience, travel, adventure, location….
The unexplainable heart-aching longing for something once had….