Lido road finally completed. Frightened sharks. Calheta sponsors childbirth.

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The official opening of the redevelopment of the old Estrada Monumental will take place today (Tues) at 11 am. Officially this is regarded as the 2nd phase of the major re-design of the road network linking the Forum/Ajuda at Hotel Baía Azul to the “roundabout” at the Lido outside the Monumental Lido Hotel – in effect a narrow one-way access road replacing the old main road, with the through-route now being at a lower level on the new road running along the back of the hotels. The timing is to coincide with the start of “Mobility Week” in Funchal, which continues until 22 September. Really is quite remarkable that it is suddenly finished, with the progress over the last few weeks being astonishing! It is only a month ago since the blog was commenting on the lack of any apparent activity (photos taken at the weekend – thank you David). At last this very important tourist area looks the part.

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Sharks “no threat”

There have been a number of recent reports of sharks in the waters off Madeira, but the scientist in charge of the Marine Biology Station of Funchal, Mafalda Freitas, considers that bathers have no reason to be afraid. In August, two hammerhead sharks were seen near the Doca do Cavacas bathing complex west of of Funchal (reported here) and later a Tubarão-Caneja entered a natural pool at Reis Magos, in the parish of Santa Cruz. Freitas told the press agency Lusa that these species are not usually aggressive towards humans. According to him, the sightings may have two explanations. The first relates to “the temperature of sea water, which is warmer at this time of year”, and the second with the simple fact that it is summer, therefore more people are paying attention to the sea.
The area of ​​Ponta do Pargo, at the extreme west of the island, is where you can admire sharks more often, since it is the crossing point when these species migrate. “Sharks have been here since the discovery of Madeira” said Freitas, with the most common being the Caneja (Mustelus mustelus), also known as the “smooth-hound” shark, that can reach two meters in length, with perhaps the most dangerous to humans being the hammerhead. “Worldwide there are 375 species of variable size and shape and, in Madeira, there are about 75 species, which feed on a wide variety of organisms, from plankton to marine mammals. Some of these species are migratory, others live closer the coast, but, like most wild animals, are very afraid of man and most times what they do is run”’ he said. Mafalda Freitas appealed to anybody sighting shark to report it to the Marine Biology Station of Funchal at Cais do Carvão and requested that fishermen who collect small specimens take them to the station for study or display (shouldn’t they put them back?). The Marine Biology Station of Funchal is a research centre owned by the municipality of Funchal and associated with the University of Madeira.

Calheta encourages childbirth

The Diario on Sunday reported that the council of Calheta is introducing a birth incentive program, offering support of 50 euros per month for three years (in total, 1,800 euros) for each child born. The measure comes into force in January and aims to halt the population decline that is occurring in the region.

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Seafront progress. Courts stopped. Conforama debut.

All of a sudden things seem to be happening on the seafront in the city centre. Progress is apparent on a number of fronts, particularly around the Praça da Autonomia, where there have been a number of road closures earlier this week as the finishing touches are applied. Whilst the square itself is shaping up nicely a lot of work still needs to be done on the adjacent seafront, but further east there is now a new horseshoe-shaped pebble “beach” (below) between the cable car terminal and the Porto Santo Maria hotel. This area, as you head towards the Fort, is now open to the public.

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Justice halted

A fault that occurred on September 1st in the “Citius” computer system has affected the progress of thousands of court cases in Madeira. The situation is described as being at a “standstill”, with only urgent cases progressing after “improvised solutions”. Sources in the Diario are quoted as saying they do not expect any solution by the end of this week.

Conforama to open

Foto DR

Conforama will open their first store in Madeira on the 17th of this month (18 hours) at the Continente building below San Roque, Predictably, there will be an official presence in the form of the President of the Regional Government of Madeira, Alberto João Jardim, as well as various directors of Conforama. To celebrate the opening, throughout the 18th September, the company will be giving away vouchers to the value of €500 each hour. Conforama are the second largest furniture outlet in Europe and plan to open 7 stores in Portugal before the end of 2017, creating 240 jobs in the process. The company has invested €2.5 million in Madeira and will employ 62 people here.

Sewer clean-up

Águas e Resíduos da Madeira (the water and waste management company) have announced a program to “desbaratização” (which I guess literally translates as “de-cockroach”) the sewers of Câmara de Lobos, Ribeira Brava, Machico, Santana and Porto Santo (in that order) during the remainder of this month. Sounds a fun job!

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Cruise ships return. Emergency stats evolve. Expat blog visit.

Cruse ships return

clip_image002September sees the cruise season begin in the port of Funchal with the return of the regular cruise ships on their “winter” cycle. The first is the P & O Cruises Oceana (pictured), arriving on the 11th. After that, the 16th marks the return of the AIDAstella, which is back again fairly quickly on the 23rd. There were just 12 visits over the last three months, with 10 scheduled for this month, increasing to the mid-thirties in October and progressively more in the following months. There are a number of links to the schedules on the “Useful Links” tab above.
On a similar nautical theme I came across an old photo of the original cog railway descending from Monte – the Caminho de Ferro do Monte. No idea as to the date, but the amount of commercial shipping is surprising.

Emergency stats changing

A conference held at the Dr. Nelio Mendonca Hospital last week heard that in recent years Madeira had experienced “a decrease in situations related to trauma (car accidents, personal injury and accidents) and an increase in emergency situations related to medical illness (cardio-respiratory arrest, poisoning, drowning and heart problems)”. This change was due to  socio-economic factors, with fewer car journeys reducing the number of road accidents, combined with the long-term decline of the construction industry bringing down the number of related accidents. On the other hand, the aging population explains the increase of the emergency medical conditions  and associated diseases. Coincidentally, one of the MRI scanners at the hospital was damaged by water infiltration after the heavy rain that hit Funchal last Wednesday. Nothing serious – they just have to wait for it to “dry out” before switching it back on!

juliedawnfox.com

A while ago I mentioned an excellent blog on expat life in Portugal written by Julie Dawn Fox, with whom I have had the pleasure of corresponding for some while – there is a permanent link on the “Useful Links” tab. Earlier this year she was getting excited about her first trip to Madeira and has subsequently just posted a very articulate account of her visit in August, and a tour with Madeira Sidecar Tours

Mike and Julie with Madeira Sidecar Tours

The link to the Madeira article is on the photo above, but it is well worth a look at her whole website – a great example of a professional, well thought-out and well written blog (in common with this site she she uses WordPress software). Good luck to Madeira Sidecar Tours as well – a novel idea which hopefully will be with us for a long time.

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