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Expat Experiences

Portugal > Expat Experiences

Portugal

Paul Garcia, Alentejo / Algarve

Wednesday August 29, 2018 (18:02:21)
Paul Garcia (far right)
Paul Garcia (far right)

Who are you?

My name is Paul. My friends call me Pauly G, "just the brown guy from America.” I am a person from Las Vegas, Nevada who I feel achieved the American Dream and at the end of the day, my life was not happy. I shed most all of my material artifacts to start a new life in Portugal.


Why Portugal? My life was simply over in America.

My life was simply over in America. For the year prior to arriving in Portugal, I was contemplating life and appreciated that I did everything I needed to do in America, i.e. married, divorced, successful career, raised a child, owned property, etc. and at the end of each day I realized I was not appreciating a quality of life and I while I had friends, I was still alone.

I wanted a change in life and then one day, October 26, 2018, I see a news article in Forbes magazine that identified eight places in the world that a person can retire or live on a budget. Number one on the list was Portugal with an image of Praia do Carvoeiro. I fell in love and began daydreaming daily.

Come end of the year, December, something occurred that demonstrated that I was working for people that didn’t value me as a person so I took a risk, quit my job - I absolutely love how I did it - and became free. Next day I bought a plane ticket and the journey begins. I come here to explore my grand experiment which is to make lots of friends and build a little community here in the world.


What challenges did you face during the move?

Prior to leaving America, my challenges were to simply shut down my old life. I had one month before my plane departed. I had to get everything sorted out quickly. Funny thing, each time I ran into a challenge I just simply trusted that I am now on my path in life so everything just worked out daily. When I arrived in Portugal, I experienced a few hiccups but I knew if I'd just be patient and ask for help, the people in Portugal (not just the Portuguese) were going to help me. I studied about the culture before I left, did some research, and had an idea just to arrive and talk with people and ask for guidance. I have learned a lot. Each day brings a new experience and an opportunity for me to grow.

How did you find somewhere to live?

This is fun for me. You have to remember that I am an American and I have American qualities. Also, I am a risk taker because I like challenging myself.

I wanted to live a new life so I only booked an apartment in Carvoiero for eight days with the idea that I was going to learn to live by word of mouth. I have since moved almost a dozen or so times but I always have a place to stay while I travel and explore all the beauty and culture that defines Portugal as simply the best place that I have found to live.

I have seen a lot, met many people, and because I am traveling and exploring the country, I have opportunities with various friends providing me ideas. I always have a place to live. I am looking next to buy something permanent and invest in Portugal. In the meantime, I have really good friends in Carvoiero, Alvor, Evora, and Porto where I always have a place to lay my head.


Are there many other expats in your area?

So far, I have spent a lot of time in four places while exploring the surrounding areas; Carvoiero and Alvor in the Algarve and Redondo and Evora in the Alentejo region. I have been as far up as Guarda with intentions to explore the Douro Valley then head down the west coast and back to the Algarve. Birds always fly south for the winter.

In Carvoiero and Alvor, yes. I have met many expats from other countries but not many from the States. In the Alentejo regions, I cross paths with many travelers but it's more Portuguese from what I have seen so far.


What is your relationship like with the locals?

I love meeting people and making friends. Despite my muito poco Portuguese, I am learning the language and making many friends. I arrived in the Algarve during the winter so that I could avoid the tourists and really get to know the locals which I have. Now, when I travel north, every few weeks, I return to the Algarve and recharge with all my friends, both Portuguese and others from around the world.

Also, something for the reader to appreciate. My inspiration is Jose Saramago. When I made the choice to come to Portugal, I went to the library and checked out all the books on Portugal but only Saramago’s A Journey to Portugal is the true definitive guidebook to appreciating Portugal and its culture. I am living the life that he describes in his story. Uma casa Portuguesa!


What do you like about life where you are?

The people all over the country are amazing and very friendly. Regardless of a person’s background and culture, I am learning to bridge the gap for me between Europe and the States. I’ve been accused a few times for being an American and I am often associated with, you know, "that guy", but after people get to know me, they learn that I’m harmless and alright.

I absolutely love the country. Every part of the country has its own uniqueness to it. Many people have traversed this land over time. Now, life for the most part is simply learning how to live by the customs of Portugal which I continue to learn and I am being successful. I am a budding photographer now with an idea and an experiment and I am demonstrating this via my travel blog. I have an eye for beauty and I am demonstrating it.


What do you dislike about your expat life?

Nothing. I am happy everyday. I just experienced a significant milestone in my journey and my new life was reaffirmed.


What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

The biggest cultural difference that I have experienced is the competing value systems. I feel that many people in the States simply walk around life with blinders around their eyes and fail to really appreciate what truly makes America great. Tudo bem?! Sempre bem!


What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

Love the food. It has certainly been a culture shock from experiencing foods in my old life to learning to live a simple Portuguese lifestyle. I liked fancy foods in nice restaurants but now, I live basic. Pao, fiambre, quejo. Simply food to sustain life. The snacks and sweets are amazing and each region has its own speciality. Sure, the pastel de nata is a Portuguese gem but there are many other treats that are also as fantastic. I am still learning all the names. I come from the desert, Las Vegas, so I'd rarely experienced freshly caught fish. Here, the country is abundant. My favorite treat is sardines, balatas, and salad. Muito bom.

When I was in Redondo, that was a small Portuguese village and the menus are not in English and I am still learning my language and the food was simple every day so I just trusted to owner to recommend a tasty Portuguese meal and I have not been disappointed.


What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Simply trust your journey. Live for and maximize each day's experiences because if you do not, you may miss out on an opportunity. I would love for anyone who is interested to follow my travel blog. I am just a brown guy from America who now lives in Portugal and is truly learning to live as a world citizen.


What are your plans for the future?

To live life and explore the world. I intend to invest in real estate in the Algarve.


You can keep up to date with Paul's adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

 
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