Bird watching on the way to Rachol

I am trying desperately to impress Sebastian (Elizabeth’s husband rather than the King in the painting) with my bird watching skills. On our way to Rachol Seminary, I beg C. to stop mainly on very busy roads, to admire my latest ‘I don’t know what it is but it looks amazing’. With that C. would finally stop and I would tell him that it is too late we missed this incredible feathered creature. I then send a message to Eveny who is a bird expert along the lines of  “Reddish head, brown body and a darkish tail, the size of a crow, I think’’. She patiently sends me a photo of what I may have seen but not sure. I am recognizing quite a few but find it still frustrating.

Anyway we reach Rachol for our weekend of cleaning the painting from two different varnishes – a very gloopy dammar in some areas and a very red shellac, both of which have been very badly and unevenly applied at some point in the past, and some repaint all over.

When we arrive there is a team of Portuguese scientists and art historians here who are funded by a number of foundations and are doing some analyses of nine of the frescoes and paintings. We are very puzzled as despite being repeatedly invited to see what we are doing, they don’t want to engage with us in any way. It’s such a shame as we believe that we are all here with the same purpose – which is to help Goa to preserve its heritage. Our Restorers without Frontiers project has three simple goals – help conserve the heritage, train local conservators and leave a legacy behind for the future. If we could all work together, then together we could achieve so much more for Goa and its artistic heritage.

Caetano shows up as always in a positive mood and engages in the laborious task of the slow removal of this weeping resin which has been applied while the painting was standing, and has formed waves upon waves of thick dark material on the surface of the painting. It is hot but we are so absorbed by the work that time goes by in an instant.

Joanna arrives mid-morning like the angel on the painting. We do need expert help, the painting is huge and we must work hard. Not long after we stop for a delicious lunch and as we sit back in front of King Sebastian C. offers to go and buy an ice cream. We are melting, it is 37C and although we have six double windows on both sides of the room, we are perishing. I do not remember anything like this last year. The ice cream tastes like the best ever as it is so refreshing.