It’s so easy to be fooled by Macau’s glitzy lights and opulent casinos. After all, it trumps Las Vegas as the highest earning gambling market in the world.
But I had come in search of a different Macau. A Macau that was reflective of a rich Chinese-Portuguese history and a vibrant Macanese culture.
A Chinese city rented to Portugal in 1557, Macau became a Special Administrative Region of China in December 1999. The Portuguese influence however, is still very much intact and an integral part of Macanese society.
We began our weekend in the heart of Macau peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage site comprising of 25 historical buildings. Walking along the charming cobblestone pathways, we admired the brightly painted churches and ornate Chinese temples.
Oooh, a festival! How exciting!
It took me a moment to deduce the meaning of the word ‘lusophone’. Given that we were in Macau and being familiar with the word ‘francophone’, I concluded that ‘lusophone’ most likely meant ‘someone who spoke Portuguese’.
We found out later that the Lusofonia festival, an annual event in Macau, is the only one of its kind in the world. Held during the October-November timeframe, the festival brings together 10 Portuguese-speaking countries / regions in a grand celebration aimed at promoting cultural exchange.
The venue was the Taipa Houses Museum, a set of 5 colonial houses with Porto-Macanese architecture, painted bright green and beautifully illuminated. Booths representing the 10 lusophone countries/regions were set-up around the museum. We arrived at the festival venue a little after sunset.
The atmosphere was electric! Colorful lighting, pulsating music, people dressed in festive carnival attire and the enticing aroma of vin’dalho wafting in the air (the modern day ‘vindaloo’ comes from the Portuguese ‘vinho’ meaning wine and ‘alho’ meaning garlic). This was going to be a fun evening!
More on our delightful evening at the 16th Lusofonia festival in Macau in my post, For the love of all things Portuguese!