Short stories about the country that everyone seems to love
I’m living for past few years away from my country, Portugal.
Unlike many of my fellow citizens who feel looked down upon when they say they are Portuguese, I’m always surprised at how foreigners seem to love Portugal. Everyone has been there at least once and keeps the loveliest of memories from their vacations.
The image created about Portugal abroad feeds all kinds of projections. They all seem to be romantically superficial enough to have in common the vision of a beautiful piece of land, home to poets and navigators, tucked into Europe and filled by people, mildly shy and charmingly reserved who are all so “nice”, and “warm” and ‘welcoming”. The short stay, massified tourism, inspired by advertising and opinions of strangers read on Trip Advisor, consolidates the collective imaginary.
No one seems to care about the truth behind sunny days at the beach, cheap seafood and smiling faces.
Perhaps due to that, expats consider that Portugal has the best quality of life worldwide. When it comes to tourism, it has received, last year, the tourism award for the best destination. Lisbon was awarded best urban destination.
As a Portuguese, I should be happy about it, right?
Maybe, if the truth that I know wouldn’t be so different and if the perpetuation of the myth didn’t prevent what is wrong to be changed.
“No place is perfect” – we might reasonably agree. Nonetheless, the place that I know is so far from its superb image that if its reality weren’t so offensive for the locals, it would be funny.
So, I’ve decided to take on the solitary and ungrateful role to show you the Portugal that I know and which led me to call another country my home. Once in a while, I will write a short chapter that illustrates a reality different from the Lonely Planet descriptions. Each chapter will add up to a quilt of memories and narratives that is, for me, my country of origin, for others, the best country in the world.
If you love Portugal to the point of wanting to know it beyond the tourism brochures and if your love endures after a few chapters then buy that Easy Jet ticket, book that Airbnb flat, pack your cabin trolley and go for it!