I am most comfortable with the word “immigrant: a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.” My father immigrated to the United States from Italy and now I have emigrated to Portugal. Why Portugal? Simple answer: finances. There probably are parts of Italy where I could enjoy the same lifestyle, but there were quite a few boxes to check off and Portugal offered me the best value for my retirement dollars. Most of my ancestry are rooted in Europe; Western and Eastern Europe, so as long as I am in Europe, I am content.
Deciding on a specific location requires a complicated answer. I will simplify my response by naming my top eleven criteria (it would have been ten, but Giorgio was a big part of my decision):
- The weather — at this point in my live being in a warmer, not-so-humid, environment was a must.
- Food — fresh seafood was a must. It was essential to be located in a place where local food is readily available and accessible.
- Water — My bucket list has long included seeing the ocean from my terrace. I was fortunate to look out over the East River in New York City for a short period of time. The Atlantic is right beyond the Ria Formosa (a river leading to the ocean) and I can see it clearly from my terrace.
- People — I want to be around progressive, liberal-minded people; who care about the planet, one another and preserving their culture.
- Accessibility — the ability to easily travel from my location without a vehicle is important to me. I have worked toward a smaller carbon footprint for a long time. There is no need to own a vehicle if you can easily get from point A to B.
- Affordability — I need to rely on my savings. That is not to say that I will not earn money while living overseas; however, depending on future income is an easy way to get into trouble. I am assuming nothing; Maine taught me that much.
- Healthcare — quality and affordability
- Safety — Crime stats and safe for older folks
- The Environment — where does the country stand on global warming, regulations, philosophical posturing, etc.
- The People and Culture — Are people friendly and welcoming? Do they like Americans or resent them? Do they hold onto and observe tradition? Are the arts celebrated?
- Taking a Pet — quarantine would be a deal breaker.
I would have to say that most, if not all, of the above were non-negotiable. I did not list them in order of importance, although some criteria are a bit more important to me. Several were easy to research and others required a visit and a gut feeling. I would imagine that everyone’s list is different and that is completely understandable. I was able to make this decision independently; add others to the mix and it becomes slightly more complicated.
Keeping in mind that few things in life are permanent helped me make the decision to leave the U.S. I have moved a dozen or more times, and therefore I know that moving once more would be manageable. Better to sort all of this out before I’m unable to. One of the many lessons I learned is the satisfaction one is provided when shedding material “things.” We accumulate so much that we do not need and it does nothing more than burden us; bog us down.
And then of course there is the great unknown: What if I don’t make friends? What if the anticipated earthquake happens while I’m living in Portugal? What if my money runs out? And on and on . . . A have a wise friend, John Mclaughlin, who often says, “Palms up to the universe.” I have been far too concerned with every “what if” for far too long. Allowing life to be more organic and spontaneous is a lesson we can all learn.
It’s been two weeks today and I have made a couple of friends, the earthquake hasn’t happened, and most of my fears have remained silly notions. No doubt that I have a lot to discover and learn. But in the meantime, I’ve eaten well, enjoyed a jazz concert, started spinning (cycle exercise) again, sharpened up my awful Portuguese, had a visitor from Ireland (Alison), partly furnished my condo, helped Giorgio settle in, went to see an American film (not dubbed; they don’t do that here) and started a blog. Not a bad start to the next chapter.
Future blogs will be all about adventures, observations, strange but candid thoughts, and whatever you the reader might request. There may be big news coming. I won’t know for a week or so; therefore, you will have to wait.
Link to a piece I wrote about my dad a few years ago for The Phoenix in Portland, Maine is at the bottom of the page. Formatting will improve as I get better at this. It’s sort of like learning a new language — oy vey.
Is the red background with white text too difficult to read? Weigh in please. Other thoughts?
The typical appearance of the pastel de nata, in this case, produced in Macau
|Alternative names||Pastel de Belém|
|Place of origin||Portugal|
|Region or state||Santa Maria de Belém, Lisbon(originally); produced worldwide within the Lusosphere|
|Created by||Religious of the Monastery of the Hieronymites|
|Serving temperature||Fresh from oven, with cinnamon and icing sugar|
|Main ingredients||Egg yolks|
|298 per 100 grams (3.5 oz) kcal|
|Cookbook: Pastel de nata Media: Pastel de nata|
Pastel de nata (Portuguese pronunciation: [pɐʃˈtɛɫ dɨ ˈnatɐ]; plural: pastéis de nata), is a Portuguese egg tart pastry, originally from Portugal which can also be found in Brazil and other countries with significant Portuguese immigrant populations
1-Jazz on a Saturday night very close to home
2-A sample of the famous Portuguese tile work you see throughout the country
3-Pastel da nata–a delicious pastry/custard dessert you quickly learn you cannot live without
The Phoenix piece I wrote about my father: about