Covas do Barro consists of a scattered handful of houses on the outskirts of Varzea Grande. Above the village is a place where people used to go for clay to make baking ovens. This is where the name of the village comes from – ‘Covas do Barro’ meaning ‘clay-holes’.
An elderly woman we met in Covas do Barro told us a little about her life. Her husband worked in Chã de Alvares, 25 km away, for a water-mining company. He used to leave home very early on Monday morning, going by bicycle to Chã de Alvares, and only returned on Friday night. Sometimes she used to go with her husband, and she remembered sleeping on a stepladder used for picking olives, covered with maize straw on the floor. The water mine that was opened was 95 meter long, and it was the dust of the stones and the smoke of the gunpowder that later caused the death of her husband.
The Levada de Cima, that originates above Casal da Ribeira and flows down to Fonte do Soito, is now channelled under the road. Before the road was widened two years ago the levada was open, and people used to wash their clothes in the stream. As the stream is now covered by the road, the freguesia has installed two washing tubs to replace the old washstones.