There is still one man in the Algarve who makes a living from selling newspapers and magazines on the street. Well, not exactly “on the street” … Carlos Alberto Reis, 53, sells them on board his boat along the islands of Ria Formosa: Culatra, Farol and Hangares islands, announcing his arrival with a loud stock phrase of his own. He has been doing this job for the last 20 years.
We met up with ‘Macarrão’, as he is commonly known, in the morning - a bit later than usual – as he was setting off to sell the daily papers. He overslept after working late at night as a fisherman. He is part of the 11-man crew of the sardine fishing vessel “Salema”.
Paperboys have slowly disappeared over the years, except on the Ria Formosa islands, particularly busy with tourists over the summer period, where it still proves to be a popular market for the local ‘ardina’.
After getting his stock at a local newsstand, Carlos Reis loads his boat with over 30 publications – including the daily sports papers, tabloids and magazines – and sets off towards Culatra Island.
He also sells lottery tickets, gas bottles, coal and is available to run errands or go shopping for islanders if requested.
At Culatra’s Janota café many of his clients already await him before he starts his door-to-door selling routine.
After his first stop of the day, we board his boat again, the ‘Faz Tudo’ (Do It All), and head towards Farol Island. Macarrão halts near a rowing boat to deliver some magazines to a laid-back holidaymaking couple. “You can pay me later,” he says, and sets sail again.
During our boat trip, we see former RTP journalist Luís Pereira de Sousa, in shorts and dark sun glasses, smiling at Macarrão from a ferryboat.
“Macarrão is a kind, diligent man. He is one of the people I speak to the most here,” said the journalist, whose own yacht is docked nearby.
The Resident took the chance to ask him about his thoughts on the controversial Ria Formosa demolitions, which he says he “partially supports”.
“It was the people who moved to these islands who interfered with the chameleons. It is important to remove those who have taken advantage of the islands,” he said, stressing, however, that authorities must give some islanders the right to continue to be and to live where they earn their bread and butter.
“I agree with the demolitions if they are carried out with respect for the islanders. The authorities can’t just kick them out to then use the land to build luxury resorts. The government has to be very clear about what it plans to do here,” he told us.
Unluckily for Macarrão, all the media attention that the Ria Formosa demolitions have received hasn’t done much for business.
“Around seven years ago, I’d bring two carts filled with newspapers. I’d sell them all. These days business is complicated,” he told us while trying his luck on the island’s beach, packed with tourists.
For out last trip of the day, the ‘Faz Tudo’ sets off towards Hangares, where we met with Macarrão’s childhood friend and former journalist, Manuel Luís.
“Macarrão is a son of Culatra, just as I am,” he said.
“He serves those who live here as well as tourists. These are the traditions that our country cannot afford to lose,” he said. “There are people who live on these islands all year round. It is not just holiday homes here. That is why courts are ruling in favor of the islanders,” he told us.
Rute Rodrigues, who has lived on the islands for 11 years and works at the local canteen, is full of praise for Macarrão as he always gives her a helping hand and brings her anything she might need from Olhão.
Having finished his rounds, Macarrão is ready to return to Olhão for lunch. He plans to take advantage of the low tide and gather some shellfish during the afternoon before another night’s fishing.
Next morning, fresh news will be out again. Hopefully, there will be someone willing to read them…
Translated and adapted by Michael Bruxo