Nazaré | Alessandro Puccinelli
Portugal, February 2016. The weather forecast finally announces a red alert for a big storm with strong winds and huge waves from the North Atlantic for the weekend. It promises to be the storm of the year and many roads are closed to prevent possible disasters. This must be seen and photographed.
I decide to go north to Nazaré, a village north of Lisbon famous for its big waves due to its subterranean canyon a massive geological fissure which creates havoc in the right conditions. When awakened by the North Atlantic storms, this tear in the earths crust forces the water violently upwards into waves that reach up to 30 meters in height.
After waiting all day Saturday, on Sunday morning, finally the big waves begin to arrive and I head to the lighthouse of Nazaré which, with its platform more than thirty meters above sea level, is located in a privileged position to admire the big storms.
The winds, however, this time, are very strong. It is hard to stand up, and the situation is extremely dangerous. The only way to do this is to have my back pressed up firmly against the wall of the lighthouse. When I had to move, I crawled on all fours. This was both exhilarating and frightening at the same time.
The waves continued to increase in height and intensity, so that in the afternoon the police arrived with the order to clear out the beacon. Fortunately, within a few minutes, by a side street, out of sight, I returned.
I am now back at the lighthouse where the wind is getting ever stronger and is now around 60 knots. Huge swells and dramatic waves produce blinding spray. I lean up against the project and I feel like I am directing a living W. Turner painting.
The frightening power of these mountains of water, the deafening noise and light so Turneresque, it makes for a totally hypnotic scene - pure ecstasy.
I stand in total admiration. My energy is in total harmony with what I have before me. I feel immense and yet infinitely small at the same time. It is truly immense to be part of everything that exists. I am immensely grateful to be part of this world, infinitely small as I am, because in front of everything one can only be so. We are a mere nothing before the grandeur of nature.
And this continuously changing attraction and fear goes on and I am there - in it and with it.
Towards sunset, a policeman tells me it's too dangerous, and says to me and to 3 others who were also there to move further away. In the evening, during a broadcast on the national news, I discover that I was one of 4 saved in Nazare by the local police. I find it somewhat exaggerated, but I smile because after all, Portugal is a country so peaceful that it takes little to make the headlines. It is this tranquility that makes me love this country so much.