Routine, but not much

After almost two months here, I am very used to it. Waking up, opening the window, getting out of bed (how cold), preparing breakfast (wow, the toaster doesn’t work), but what a joy to see these wonderful people every day, well, not every day is the same joy, but most do.

I no longer get lost going to the supermarket or the office, it is a great step, soon I will be able to reach every corner of the city without the help of google maps. I already recognize the buildings I usually pass by, there are few left to photograph. I even start to see the same repeated faces, they are part of my routine.

I cannot deny that I miss a bit of autumn, cloudy days with trees full of brown leaves, I cannot deny that I miss going on the subway and on the bus listening to my music while I watch the crowd rushing in the city, but changes are good, they always serve to learn.

Some of the things I have learned this month: Coexistence is as bad as it is good and as easy as it is difficult. Perspective changes everything. Everything in good company is always better. It is important to surround yourself with good cooks. It is important to use your free time to do things that fill you up.

I know the way to Rua Filipe Alistão

Oh, Faro.

One day I woke up with the smell of the ocean in the air and my roommates screaming their lungs away in the kitchen. The sun was shining and I couldn’t drink my morning coffee on the terrace because it was absolutely too hot. I was late to go to the office because somebody took the lighter for the stove, so I couldn’t eat my breakfast. Looked like a very typical day. But that day was exactly one month after I arrived to this lovely place that I started calling home.

It has only been a month but I already have a little family here. Four best friends who are always up for a sunset and a chat. They leave the house dirty but always watch movies with me on the terrace. They laugh and even cry with me sometimes. Could not wish for anything better. I also have a beautiful family in ECOS and feel so welcomed whenever I am there. Also, a lot of random amazing people I met throughout this month, danced with and sang some very bad karaoke with.

It has only been a month but the streets of Faro scare me no more! I still get quite lost whilst walking to Lidl and sometimes get super confused on which boat to take to which island but overall, I kinda know where I live now. And that is a big thing for me. So every morning I feel super happy and proud walking to the office with a confident look on my face. I still love wandering around on the cobbled streets. They are very slippery by the way.

I has only been a month but oh what a month it has been.

Bring it on, Faro!

maracujá tastes great

It’s October 21th and I’ve still haven’t seen any leafs falling from the trees. It seems like Faro’s autumn is yet to come, but the experiences keep on going.

These days I’ve been focused on my tasks in CCVAlg as the tourist season is now at its ending part. Day by day I keep on learning more and more stuff about the rich and abundant biodiversity in Ria Formosa, but also how the different communities in Faro deal with it. Everyday seems like a perfect day to be alive as the unexpected keeps knocking on my door with new people to meet and challenging goals to achieve.

Recently, Juliette and I have finished doing some cardboard boxes that are supposed to provide both university and school students a place to recycle some kind of plastics in order to give them a new life (i.e. a marvellous plastic bowl, fake coins for the supermarket’s trolleys…). At the same time, we’re also taking care of the CCVAlg’s greenhouse as it was kind of left apart when we first saw it; but now it’s starting to look like a decent-ish place for plants and the people who love them. I’ll keep you updated about how the tomatoes and the sweet potatoes are doing, so far they’re growing strong and healthy!

On the other hand, I still have to find out how to save some time from work to explore the fishermen community, as one of my projects in here is trying to run a documentary film pretty much about their lives and desires. Besides, it’s taking a hard time to learn Portuguese and in order to connect with them I somehow have to speak to them not only in a language they understand, but feel at home with.

Roughly in a week, it’ll be 2 months since I arrived to Faro and now everything is starting to feel like I’ve built a space in this new town where I feel warm and at ease. Having won a better understanding about this country and finding out my mentally and physically place in here is being the best set-up I could’ve never imagined!

Cerro de bruxo e das bruxas

Lacking some permissions from the parents, I sadly had to blur the faces of the children on the photos. Except mine.

For a month now, I have been going 3 times a week to the gypsy camp of Cerro de Bruxo, north of Faro. Today I clearly feel 30% French, 30% Breton, 30% Portuguese, 30% Vietnamese and 100% Gypsy. Truth.

Neither the most sophisticated dances, nor modified and customized cars hold any secrets for me.

Cerro is a rusty place, its inhabitants live in a (very) precarious way. A drop of rain and the ground turns into thick mud. A single blow of wind and the dust reminds us of the Algerian Sahara. At the end of the summer, the climate is also difficult to bear and the few trees present are an invaluable source of comfort.
The camp is literally isolated. Geographically and socially. Surrounded by trenches taking us back to the saddest hours of the First World War, these ditches are a beautiful metaphor for the inequalities that exist and persist between the camp and its new neighbours. Cerro is located on the edge of a growing city whose new housing complexes (and their developers) are forcing the progressive isolation of the community. We don’t know each other, we don’t talk to each other, we don’t understand each other.

The interior of the camp, on the other hand, is bubbling with social ties. This is surely the foundation of the Gypsy way of life and hypothetically what allows them to keep a semblance of humanity and joy despite very difficult living conditions. Everyone has their place, (the men go hunting game and save the world, the women cook). The different generations live together in harmony. From their point of view, I am now at 22 years old a mature man (yes daddy and mommy) who has to look for a woman in order to have children. Being a big child myself, I find it difficult to take care of other immature people. Despite of my 24.5 kg, which doesn’t really fit the gypsy profile, I am generally proposed to one woman per week at the camp. Of course I accepted all of them.

Apart from these sociological analyses of recognised quality, my aim there is to accompany, play and occupy the children (and not the other way round). Their crazy energy is a double-edged sword: it is a vector of extreme tiredness but also allows them to never get bored. I am aware that it is a long-term job that requires patience and self-sacrifice. Setting rules overnight for kids who have never had them is illusory and it took me a long time to understand this and at the same time to be able to manage my frustration when one kid used the game’s existing chairs to hit another.


Thanks to this, my Portuguese is improving day by day and the younger generations are helping me to learn the most common insults. “fucking bacalahau”. Without getting into clichés I’m quite admiring the always positive attitude of the children. I appreciate the usefulness of my presence, I find my work rewarding and I hope that you children also enjoy spending time with me.

Até à próxima,

Guilou

Ps : If a priest said that last sentence, it would be weird.

1 month already !

That’s it, it’s 16/10/2020, it means 1 month already in Faro.  Indeed, I remember the best welcome at the airport when Jesica was waiting for me with a surprise in the car : Pasteis de Nata ! At first, I was a little shy but she made feel at home. You have to trust me, she’s the best ❤ Having arrived the last one I heard my rommates say : « It’s been one month already ! » and for me it was huge. Finally, time flies and it’s me today repeating this sentence. 

In 1 month, we do a lot of things like meetings, small trip away from home or activities related to volunteering, for example, beach cleaning, collect of plastic, activities in schools… fo my part. I was also able to familiarize myself with the language, « Não » I can’t speak for the moment but I know some words and I can understand sometimes.  1 more month in my phone’s photo gallery and I already have more photos than 5 months of photos at home.

Can’t wait to say « 2 months already! »

JuJ

The last arrival in the Alistão family.

Hi, I’m Juliette and I come from Corsica a little island next to France which has some differences and resemblances with Faro !

First, having arrived the last, I had the chance to have a guided tour of the city by my new roommates (Visit shortened by the interruption of kittens). This city has a great asset in my eyes: Atlantic Ocean !! I, who am so used to the Mediterranean Sea, am delighted to find this salty smell again.

Ria Formosa seen from a plane

I noticed that after two weeks spent in this city my roommates were still lost. Yes, Faro is small but it lacks nothing (totally different from Bastia). As volunteers there are many activities organized like concerts, canoe trips, workshop discoveries… and I forgot. 

Every time I walk in the city I am amazed by all its colors and its pretty little houses.

Sun + azulejos = 🤩

Let’s talk about the thing that interests me the most when I go on a trip: Food !!! Well, I’m vegetarian so I don’t eat all the Portuguese specialties, but in any case this is not where we are going to run out of fruits and vegetables. The small Sunday market near Igreja Do Carmo is the perfect place to shop and meet locals people. Let’s not forget the delicious wine and the tasty porto which will make you have a great evening 😉

It’s just the beginning of this volunteering in Faro but I think it’s gonna be my best experience in Portugal.

Bisous & Basgii !

go west

Hello mates! My name’s Ángel and I arrived to Faro a week ago. Even though I live in Algeciras (Spain) I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Portugal and, so far, it has been one of my best life decisions.

My city has a strong resemblance to Faro as they are both connected to the sea. Fisherman keep the coastal vibe while tourists and backpackers help to reinvent the city in lovely ways. Everyone here is ready and willing to talk with you having a charming smile to make you feel at home. From early in the morning there’s movement in the city: planes taking off/landing from its tiny airport, bicycles rolling around the port and a marvellous train framed by the Atlantic Ocean.

However, the city is pretty quiet and the most of its citizens prefer to go by foot as you can get to anywhere in a 15 minutes walk. 

Back in my hometown there’s one of the biggest seaports in Europe and its traffic usually turns the atmosphere into a dusty grey cloud. Moreover, there are several industries in the outskirts that don’t actually help to improve this situation; where as in Faro one thing to notice is how fresh the air is in here. 

On the other hand, I still haven’t discovered any parks where I could go to sit and relax or just to have a picnic with friends, so the few little green spaces in the streets and the wall which surrounds its port are a commonplace to enjoy the sunset and listen to some local music groups.

Prices are similar to a any little town in Spain: food is quite affordable, both in the supermarkets or in restaurants/bars, but buses may be kind of expensive (2,35€) compared to the normal cost per trip in Algeciras (1,20€). 

I’ll be here for some months and I’m still in the process of getting to know the city, its history and way of living. Hierven, Algarve welcomes you with open arms and in those times where the world seems to be detached from their most human traits, Faro will just softly rock you like a mom with her newborn baby.

Eu gosto muito de ti, Faro.

The sky is so blue in Faro, or at least it is the effect caused by the contrast of the houses painted in such light colors. In Madrid the buildings are so tall and the air is so full of shit that you can barely see the sky, let alone the stars at night. Here you can see many stars, it is great to see them from our incredible terrace while an angel plays the guitar or while we put a movie to sleep with on the projector.

It’s funny how you can get lost about five times a day in such a tiny city, but the streets are incredibly confusing and being relaxed makes you forget where you came from and where you are going.

People here are different, they are always calm, without haste, without nerves, without elegant clothes, many times it seems that they are always drunk, or maybe they are, but it’s a good thing I guess, I also seem that way sometimes, no I know if it will be contagious.


I had already been to Portugal several times, one of them in the Algarve, and I remember that after spending several days there I remember saying to my friend the words “I think I could live here happily in the future” and it is not something that I think of everyone the places I have visited. But now, having spent several weeks here, I would repeat them for sure.

See you,

ISA

The start of something pretty cool

Hello to everyone who stumbled upon this confession about my first weeks in the ever-so lovely city of Faro. My name is Inga, I come from a very cool country called Lithuania and I moved here to find new adventures, new people and to volunteer in this beautiful community.

As far as I remember I wanted to visit Portugal. It always looked like the most magical place with the best people and a lot of art everywhere. One day I met two Portuguese boys who ended up becoming my best friends and I fell in love with all the stories they were telling me about this beautiful place they are from. After that, the idea of volunteering in a country like this and giving the love that I have while also learning new things was very important to me. So I searched, I tried, I applied. And here I am.

The differences between Faro and my city are very obvious and clear. Faro is way warmer, the houses are colorful, the sky is more blue, the people drink black coffee in small cups and eat a lot of fish. Vilnius has way more trees and parks, it rains way more, the people walk faster and they drink flat whites, cappuccinos and lattes.

But I think the main thing I want to tell you today is a little different. While traveling, I see a lot of different things in countries, continents, cultures, food and nature. But in the end, the biggest difference I find is in me.

I find a new Inga in every place I travel to. Sometimes she talks less, sometimes she is louder, more open and more adventurous. So, in Faro I walk slower and I don’t look at the map on my phone. I love the feeling of getting lost in the small streets and then finding my way around. In Faro I allow myself to think more, it seems that the smell of ocean in the air helps me focus on my thoughts. In Faro I spend way more time outside because I find the beautiful weather inspiring. I am different here. And it happens because we change when we see new places and meet new people. We let ourselves be different because we let ourselves be free. And that is why sometimes it is so hard to leave places. It is because we are scared we will never be the same. But that is for another day, now we are here and we still have time. And I will try to spend all that time falling in love with everything around me. I hope you do the same.

Beijinhos

Inga.

I’m ok mum, don’t worry

It took me two weeks of recovery due to the Paris – Faro jet lag to get back to you dear readers. I imagine your immense happiness to find me again and I can assure you of its reciprocity.

After Poland and Vietnam, the communist tour is over as we head for the Portuguese market economy. Here I am in Faro, capital of the Algarve, the southernmost region of João Félix’s country.

Faro is a small town whose population triples in the summer. (Support to shirtless English tourists who couldn’t waddle on Fisher’s music in Ibiza this summer and preferred to come and taste the local Mc Flurry).

Learning the language of Eusebio will be an opportunity for me to distinguish myself from my sun-hungry London counterparts and to be considered at my true worth: an expert in pastels de natas, these delicious Portuguese pastries that have been nourishing my feverish body since my arrival. My knowledge of Spanish doesn’t really help and even tends to misjudge my real level in the local language, the two being very (too) close.

I had previously explained to you in all objectivity that Polish is spoken while vomiting, Vietnamese while shouting, and Portuguese is a derivative of Spanish which is pronounced as if you had a tarantula in your mouth, as well as by adding “ch” at the end of each word. CHENTROCHENCHEVIVA

I shoot myself with the very tight 50 cts coffees served everywhere in the city. I also always keep a bacalhau (cod) in my pocket to prove my love to my host country. I deliciously enjoy the local fish and the almost only kebab in town (I guess it must not be a Portuguese specialty).

Despite the large influx of European tourists all year round (the old people come here to warm up with their camper vans in the winter), and the many signs that do not deceive : high prices in the center, expertise in the language of Shakespeare or souvenir stores of dubious quality, the city has not lost its charm and it is pleasant to stroll through its small shady streets and enjoy (paradoxically) its calm and tranquility. The local people are also surprisingly very tender with the tourists like me and their smiling faces is a daily benediction. (i’m choosing my words carefully)

These are my first impressions , I do not give you my truth, I present you in all humility the truth. My book will be released soon at the price of 19,99€.

A Sincere thank you to ECOS for giving me this great opportunity and to the European Union for allowing young idiots like me to be able to live this kind of experience.

até breve,

Guilou