With over a century of history, the wicker basket or Monte carts are an unique type of transportation.
It is a trawl vehicle, with a sit for two people, with a box made out of wicker on an eucalyptus wood structure; this box has, on each of its extremities, two tilo or pine wood beams which are coated with “grease” so that can easily slide. On the front part, the focinhos are placed, i.e. two ropes or thin straps which allow the two men who push the cart to control it.
The men, popularly known as carreiros, wear leather country boots, with a thick rubber sole, which are used as a brake, whenever it is necessary to reduce the speed and halt the cart.
It is believed that it was in the parish of Monte, circa 1850, that the first wicker cart appeared as there are no registries prior to this date. Supposedly, it derived from the idea of Russel Manness Gordon to adapt the corsa, a cargo transport, to a more comfortable and safer vehicle to transport passengers in order to quickly get to Funchal, as he resided in Monte, at the Gordon Villa – currently the Emperor Gardens Villa -, given that his occupation as wine trader forced him to constantly travel to the city centre.
Others must have pursued his idea and these transports initially had a utilitarian and leisure function, as there were carts for the personal use by its owners or for public use by tourists.
The cart’s dimensions varied according to the number of people it transported: one, two or three. Nowadays, only carts with two seats circulate.
Due to the boost of cruise ship port calls at the end of the 19th century, this transportation mean quickly became a tourist attraction of the parish of Monte. Currently, it travels for 2 km, with an approximate duration of 10 minutes, at a speed that may reach the 48 km per hour.
This exhibition aims to present the construction process of the “wicker cart”, in a trade show open to the public at the Infoart Space of SRTC – Regional Secretariat for Tourism and Culture between 3 and 21 June.
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