How many are there? No one knows. A lot of them are not even legalized. But there are many. Hundreds. Men, women, couples with children that came to earn, per arpent, in four or five weeks, the livelihood of several months in their home countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Kazakhstan, among others.
Why are there so many arriving? Because here no one will do the service. The first cause is the depopulation of Douro and Trás-os-Montes. Secondly, the remaining ones cannot do it or do not want to do it.
At a farm we found romani people. About twenty of them live at the self-proclaimed Iraq neighborhood in Carrazeda de Ansiães. They receive Social Insertion Subsidy and, in that context, are available for work opportunities that arise. They always arise in the harvest season.
The working hours go from 7 am until 4 pm. Just cutting grapes. The carrying of the buckets to the tractor that goes from row to row is left to the local workers, experts in the rhythm and requirements of the craft.
There is a break for lunch from 12 am until 1 pm. The romani use it all. From the lunch bags come out spaghetti with cod fritters, fried chicken, salted meat, bread and wine. The remaining time is spent smoking and talking.
The Bulgarians also smoke, and drink mostly water. Under the shadow of a fig tree a group eats rice with fried chicken out of the same pot. And tomatoes. The Bulgarians like “domatoes” very much. Others eat sausages and fried meat with bread. A quarter of an hour is enough for them to reset their strength for what´s left of the working day.
And so the grape harvest days run throughout Douro, most of them rainy.
After it´s finished some will go back to their home countries to work in whatever they find. If they find anything. Others will stay on for a few weeks, or months, to pick chestnuts and olives. Because there isn´t a big difference between the vineyards and the chestnut or olive groves. If there´s abundance, it´s not of people willing to do the service.