Madeira – a sub-tropical volcanic island 500 kilometers off the coast of Morocco and settled long ago by Portuguese explorers – was the final destination of our project “United Colors of Young European Businessmen”(2020-1-ESO1-KA227-SCH-095202).
Two main business activities of islanders are tourism and food production (from the sea and from the plantations). The Portuguese host suggested to get a close look at both with our own eyes. So, our first visit was to Cabo Girão, a place with an incredible view of the ocean, and if I remember correctly, then also the highest cliff of Europe. Then we were off to a fishing village Câmara de Lobos– a nice quaint settlement with colorful boats and the main income being scabbard – a fish that can only be caught at night. During the daytime, as we were told, the fishermen relax and get a glass of a local drink called poncha, made with lemons, honey or sugar, and aguardente. Our last visit was to Curral das Freiras – another area in the middle of the mountains with a breathtaking view. As an Estonian it always amazes me how people have managed to pave roads through huge mountains and live – basically – in the middle of nowhere, yet still enjoying all the luxuries of city life and if not even a better view than the mainlanders.
After an exciting day full of sightseeing and meeting the hardworking locals, we were finally able to sit down and discuss the ins and outs of our final report. We have still some tasks to do and all partners agreed that we are in line with our project’s objectives and will complete it as initially planned. What an exciting experience full of new knowledge about entrepreneurship and business plans it has been since our first TPM in Salobreña in Spain, for students and teachers alike!
Next day, after riding up in a cable car and visiting Monte Palace Gardens, we had the incredible chance to ride down the mountain in a wickerwork car (Toboggan), which to us, Estonians, seemed like a sleighride, just without the snow. Apparently, this traditional method of travelling down the mountain in basket sledges dates back to the early 19th century where they were used as a means of transport by the local residents who wanted to travel quickly from the village of Monte to the city of Funchal. About 20 to 30 drivers were dispatched at a time and gave tourists (old and young!) a very memorable experience. Another unique way of employment! Alas, the cherry on top was the last activity of the day – a visit to the local Monte elementary school, where we were greeted by singing and dancing children wearing traditional Madeiran costumes. This tear-jerking moment will be engraved in our memories forever. During the extraordinary reception, new partnership plans were made and many aspects of the Erasmus+ opportunities discussed.
During the last day we had the chance to visit another school – Campanario school, with a spectacular view of the sea and hallways painted with depictions starting from the Big Bang and finishing with the present time. We were welcomed in an art class where we could communicate with the local students and try out different techniques of drawing. I, for example, drew a Madeiran lizard using the stippling method. Although the students could not speak English very well, they cleverly used their tablets and Google translate to ask how I can draw so well. I just laughed and told them skills come with age. After a nice refreshing walk with our dear P.E. teacher Elisabete, we went to Centro Social Paroquial do Carmo – a great example of social entrepreneurship – an institution funded by the church to provide basic food, health and hygiene opportunities for the less fortunate and elderly people, who do not have much to do at home. We learned a lot how social entrepreneurship started from a humble idea to provide social healthcare for people with lesser opportunities, and then expanded into an enterprise which creates value for the whole community.
Madeira island is small in size but huge at heart. It was such a wonder to see an island with spectacular views and nature, and how they have used these aspects to generate their main income from tourism.
Entrepreneurship at its finest!
Written by Berit