So It Looks Like I’ve Moved to Portugal

I touched down in Lisbon yesterday afternoon with a kind-of-plan but possibly not as much of a plan as you’d expect of a person who picks up and moves their life to a brand new country. I’ve lived in Rwanda since 2010 and I’ve spent most of the past year hopping around between Kampala, Nairobi, and Kigali where I’ve been finishing up some work. I decided last year to move to Portugal and yesterday it finally happened!

Since I’ve been a homeless person shuffling between East African cities, I’ve already figured out how to pack all of my life belongings into two bags. I’m not sure of whether I should be proud that all of my shit fits into two bags, or whether I should wonder where my life went so wrong. I’m a minimalist, so I’m going to go with proud… though perhaps a true minimalist would shame me for having two bags. And then there’s the box of crap that’s lived at my parent’s house since I left Canada in 2001, but lets not discuss that. I don’t want to remind them it’s there, lest they get me to do something about it.

But that’s what this move to Portugal is all about… finding a forever home. ‘Forever home’… that makes me feel like I’m a dog looking for an adoptive owner but lets go with that anyway. I’ve been roaming around the world for over 15 years and I feel like it’s finally time to put down real roots somewhere, reclaim that box of crap from my parent’s house, get real health insurance that doesn’t fall into the travel category, and commit to a place instead of always having my foot out the door.

I was in Rwanda for almost eight years and I loved living there and still love it there when I go back, but for me it never really felt like a place I could see myself for the rest of my life (if that place even exists). It’s certainly a place I want to visit regularly so my plan is to keep my businesses in East Africa alive (I run a Kigali website and make maps, maps, and more maps) and spend winters in the region since Portugal gets colder than you’d expect and since I love going there anyway. So I guess it’s kind of a half-assed move to Portugal. But since I’m someone who freaks out a bit at the idea of committing to one place, I’m going to chalk that up as a win!

This is the first post on my Portugal from Scratch website and it exists just in case anyone accidentally stumbles onto the site while I work on the design. I seem to make websites everywhere I go and I love researching and documenting. Plus I know that there are lots of other people planning moves to Portugal, so my hope is that this website develops into a resource for them along with being a place for me to keep track of what might be a slightly ridiculous journey from me being a new arrival to resident to person who owns land, has a garden, is building a house, and maybe has a goat or two. And a donkey, I really want a donkey.

I’m off to Tomar this afternoon to do a work exchange through Workaway. Yes, I’m a 40-year-old woman about to head off to work in exchange for food and accommodation. Yes, that makes me wonder about whether my life has gone terribly wrong. Who knows. But this is a step towards learning as much as I can from others who’ve already moved to Portugal, built a house, and set up a great life here. I want to swap some hard work for learning experiences and I think this is a great way to accomplish that goal.

My plan other big plan is to up my photography game for this website and to also learn how to make videos. I might even get a drone… oh ya! But in the meantime, here are some mediocre photos from my walk around the Oliveira area of Lisbon yesterday.

To the one or two people reading this, I’ll write from this farm near Tomar soon!