Carvoeiro’s most colourful resident, Brazilian-Portuguese Daniel Soares (“Dani”), died in Brazil on Thursday, July 30, aged 79, from a heart attack. He had suffered a stroke when he flew to Brazil in December last year to attend his sister’s funeral and was being cared for in a nursing home, too frail for doctors to discharge him and allow him on a plane back home. And “home” was Carvoeiro.
Daniel was born in the Brazilian State of Santa Catarina on December 15, 1940. Carvoeiro became his home when he arrived here nearly 40 years ago.
It was in this picturesque fishermen’s village that he could be his true self. His colourful, vibrant personality was contagious, and he made sure to share his inexhaustible joie de vivre with everyone who came across him.
Those who had the pleasure of meeting Dani, the artist, the writer, the entertainer, the thinker, even the self-assumed geologist (he loved exploring cliff fossils), would never forget him.
Loud, assertive but a charmer, Dani was larger than life and would always make sure his presence wouldn’t go unnoticed.
If he saw you walking in the street, he would observe you from a distance and then it would be anyone’s guess what he would say to you – “You don’t look happy. Is he not giving you enough sex?” or “You are glowing! You must have found a new love!”
He didn’t take life too seriously, and he knew his humour wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but he had a heart of gold and his only desire in life was to make people happy. That was his mission as he cycled to town every day from his home in nearby Poço Partido, whenever hospital appointments for his various ailments didn’t break his routine. He was a beautiful soul in a frail body. But he was a warrior.
Dani was a well-travelled man and made friends all over the world. He would embrace all cultures and religions – he led a very spiritual life – having in his later years visited many Middle Eastern countries.
His passion for naïf art was most evident in his paintings which truly reflected his personality – vibrant and colourful. Many now grace the walls of homes and businesses in the area.
Daniel Soares also wrote a two-part autobiography – Caminhos Cruzados – Vida e Obra do Artista (2005), and Mais Cá do que Lá (2010).
In part-two of his honest and controversial autobiography, he describes his “unhappy childhood”, living with his very strict Catholic parents, and the troubles he encountered through life to be accepted as a homosexual. He wrote about the day he confessed his homosexuality to his family: “Over the years, I thought about the best way to officially present my physical attributes to my family and friends … What clothes should I wear? Should I put on some make up? What shoes? What about my hair? So, one beautiful summer day, in our humble home, I showed up wearing white trousers paired with white shoes, a yellow and white striped shirt, peroxide blonde hair and, to top it all off, I had put on some soft make up. My family was gobsmacked when I officially said ‘I am gay, I am effeminate, I will die effeminate and … you better get used to it!’”
He knew that the way to heal a troubled soul was to entertain those around him and he would take great joy in keeping his audiences amused.
Generations grew accustomed to seeing Dani bring life and colour to every Carvoeiro street festival, be it Christmas or Carnival parades, year after year. In fact, Carnival without Dani and his tailor-made swimming costume with inflatable breasts would just not be the same! He would grab the shiest in the audience and make them dance with him. And that was Dani’s only goal in life: to make people happy.
And because of his generous heart and soul, everyone in Carvoeiro will always remember Dani with great fondness, knowing that the village has lost a true son. Sadly, it wasn’t to be his final resting place as he would have wished.
By INÊS LOPES