We’re nearly ten months into our time here in Portugal, which is hard to believe. This time last year, we were living in Boise, Idaho, in transition from Thailand to Portugal, waiting for our Portuguese visas.
It seems like it was just a few months ago we were arriving in Lisbon, staying in a cramped, hot apartment just outside the Portuguese metropolis. A few weeks after arriving in the country, we moved to the Algarve and haven’t looked back.
If you’re not familiar with Portuguese geography (I wasn’t before we moved here), the Algarve is the southernmost region of the country, known for its beaches and tourism. When we first toured the area back in August, as we were deciding where to live, we were initially unimpressed. The landscape looked barren and brown, and I couldn’t understand why so many people holiday here.
Then we found the city we eventually moved to, located in the Western Algarve, and I better understood the charm and draw. And nine months into our time in this incredible region, I completely, absolutely, 100 percent understand the draw.
So that’s all to say: we are happy. We love living in Portugal. And I mean, l-o-v-e it. It feels like a peaceful utopia, a little corner of the world in which we’re able to withdraw from the chaos of the rest of the world. We have a mountain nearby, and incredible beaches, and cliffside trails. The people are kind and helpful. We feel welcomed. And overall, I feel immense gratitude for Portugal and its people.
Living here in the midst of a pandemic has had its challenges, of course. With months of quarantine, we haven’t fully been able to live here, not really. Our visa appointments were cancelled (and then rescheduled with less than a week’s notice). We’ve had to figure out some of the most basic living-in-a-new-country things while at the same time being cut off from the community at large. And being cooped up at home instead of out in the community, I’ve barely learned a lick of Portuguese.
Layer all that with the civil unrest and Black Lives Matter protests back home in the U.S. I’ve felt, at times, like I both desperately wanted to be home marching and eternally grateful to be out of the United States right now.
So we’ve done the best thing we know to do: calm the chaos internally by spending time outside. We’ve spent every weekend at the beach, each Sunday visiting a new location. Something about the water and sand makes everything better, don’t you think?
Ten months in, and I feel like we’re just getting to know this country we now call home. Ten months, and we’re starting to feel a sense of calm amidst the chaos of the world. Ten months, and our family is feeling settled. Stable. After the challenges (and joys) of Thailand last year, we are so grateful to be here! More to come . . . but for now, a few photos.
What’s your favorite country you’ve ever visited or lived in, and why? Please share with me in the comments. I’d love to add your favorite place to my travel list!