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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Only weirdos choose to move to Portugal

Miguel Vale d'Almeida spells out something that I recognise in the eyes of every Portuguese that meets me:
Ninguém vem para Portugal porque quer. A não ser que seja um certo tipo de reformado inglês em busca de campos de golfe e cerveja barata.
No-one comes to Portugal because they want to. Not unless it's a certain type of retired English person looking for golf courses and cheap beer.

That's why I'm such an oddball in Portugal. I chose to live here - not because I'm retired, nor for the golf or the cheap beer (although I do appreciate the price of good wine). And it's not because I was looking for low-salaried work that no-one else wants to do. And no, I didn't come because I fell in love with a Portuguese guy.

I'm just a peculiar person!

Maybe it's because of the scuba diving I was crazy about ... on the Portuguese wreck in front of Fort Jesus, Santo Antonio de Tanna. The stories of battles between the Portuguese and Arabs, reflected in the mix of Portuguese-Arab architecture and people in Mombasa fascinated me.

Maybe it was my excitement about the lost Swahili town of Gedi, north of Watamu. Gedi was a once great civilization (in the thirteenth century) that still puzzles historians because it was isolated and unknown. It was suddenly and inexplicably deserted, with no trace of its residents and my young heart trembled when we walked through the ruins, knowing that here lay the banquet tables, the sewing, and the signs of life that had been so quickly abandoned. The story that thrilled me was that maybe the people heard that the "the fierce men from the sea" (the Portuguese) were invading.

Also I was stung badly - and survived - by a Portuguese Man o' War while swimming, another addition to my mental map of the Portuguese.

Then when I lived in England I was an anti-apartheid activist and campaigned tirelessly for SWAPO (Namibia) and with FRELIMO (Mozambique). The stories of the Portuguese from our comrades in Southern Africa were not the same as the ones I hear now in Portugal.

None of that explains why I live here in Setúbal, but maybe it helps show that my canvas - and my childhood imagination which I have never shaken off - is different to the golfing, beer lovers from England. And it might help people in Portugal to pardon me for being a little peculiar!.

Fort Jesus, Mombasa:

Castelo São Filipe, Setúbal:

8 Comments:

Blogger damarofi said...

Personally, I'm glad that people like you come to live in Portugal. Why???
'Cause it doesn´t make me look that foolish! Nope, just kidding!
Actually, I live here since my parents came back from Australia some 17 years ago. And I can tell you, that I would only return to Oz for a vacation. Even though I don´t earn alot of money, the lifestyle is so relaxing.
I come home from work, and can relax, go to the cafe and have a beer with my friends,etc...
And maybe in Australia I couldn't do that!!!

9/01/2006 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger damarofi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/01/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

So ... from one weirdo to another: hi damorofi!

9/01/2006 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Didn't want to come to Portugal (just to get out of London) - check
Golf - check
Cheap beer - check
Not rich (or old) enough to retire yet!
75% match. Does that make me a stereotype?

9/01/2006 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

Sorry Harry. That means that you are just NOT a weirdo!

(tell me how you do it!)

9/01/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger belinha said...

Very nice text.I enjoyed reading it!

12/04/2006 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

Thanks Belinha :-)

12/04/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger bathmate said...

That’s looks so nice your posting.
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12/29/2009 04:00:00 PM  

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