Exodus in grey: Algarve tourists line-up in eerily muted airport to ‘get back home’

Faro airport – normally a bustling, lively concourse full of animated people coming and going – is now a shadow of its former self.

Foreigners given no choice in many cases but to get home as the country hunkers down for the ‘most difficult three months’ in the history of its young democracy have been turning up in muted groups, filing in bemused to find police at the doors, asking them to show proof they have a flight booking.

Inside, many of the habitual shops, bright, and full of ‘things to buy’/ look at/ pick up as a last minute souvenir, are shut.

Cafés are manned by masked staff in gloves, esplanades reduced, airline desks deserted.

Reporting for Barlavento newspaper, Bruno Pires writes: “No one wants to talk to the press”.

It’s the most dismal pre-Easter scene in an airport usually bursting into life to welcome the spring that anyone can imagine. Surreal even.

The arrivals hall is deserted. But departures is stuffed with apprehensive looking queues of people who look like they haven’t slept comfortably in days.

Dutch tour guide Carla Verhees explains many of her clients didn’t actually want to go home. They felt they would be better off in a country known for its sunshine than back home in the dismal grey. But the company Ms Verhees works for, Primavera Reizen, felt enforced repatriation was the only option.

Over 1000 customers trundled their luggage through Faro’s sliding doors, their holiday hopes filed away, hopefully for another day.

Said Carla Verhees of the immediate future: “Right now it’s black, and it’ll stay this way for at least two months. But I think that after this, the perspectives are good. People love the Algarve, they’ll be back”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

Photo/ ‘atmosphere’ credit: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP