interview #2: a portugal connection

“Piglet in Portugalintrigued me for the same reason that “English Thoughts” did. Both bloggers live in other countries. What I found interesting about this blogger is that she is an ex-pat. I wanted to get her “take” on life abroad. I think you’ll get a feel for who she is and what she’s about, from reading her own words. She’s a woman with great successes, and many friends, that’s for sure.

1. What do you feel you get from blogging? Does it fulfill you personally? Has it opened up new vistas for you?

I discovered the “blogosphere” in January 2010 but it was not until May that I plucked up enough courage to create my own blog “Piglet in Portugal”. My blog was primarily to share my experiences of life in Portugal, hobbies and interests plus anything else that captured my imagination. I also created pages with static information which anyone moving to, or looking to holiday in Portugal may find of interest.

My biggest disappointment was that while I had many visitors to my blog there was no interaction in the way of comments. To be honest, it was rather a lonely existence; I really enjoy reaching out to others and frequently asked myself was it really worth all the effort?

In Jan 2011 WordPress introduced the Postaday/Postaweek challenge followed by a post on “Blogging Buddies”…what were these? I soon discovered and my whole blogging experience and perception of blogging changed for the better! Suddenly, I discovered a whole community of bloggers and some great “Blogging Buddies” such as Classyrose of “Things in life I find annoying” Seashell, Enjoying Creating, Redneck Princess, Granny1947, Wordangell, Jeanne’s Blog, Running Garlic, Soapbird, Wrinkledintime, and Spirit Lights the Way, to name just few. I now love to sit down with a cup of coffee or a glass or two of wine (hence the dyslexic fingers) and read and comment on all my buddies blogs. It feels great to belong to a blogging community where we all support one another and have fun. I do not aspire to be a writer but just enjoy taking photographs, writing about everyday life and researching different topics to post.

The highlight of the challenge to date, for me, was when my post Gazanias in January was “Freshly Pressed” it was great fun and I felt humbled that my little blog had been recognized.

My blog now ranks well in Google for certain long tail keywords and “Piglet” aka PiP has been “discovered” ha ha…and approached by three major expat websites who have asked me to write content, or use my blog posts and even have my own monthly column about expat life in Portugal. Life is full of surprises!!

2. Have you always been a fan of pigs? Would you have one for a pet, if not, why not?

Yes, I’ve always been a great fan of pigs; they are not only cute but extremely intelligent! I could say just like me but that would be telling “porkpies”! (lies). I used to collect pig ornaments but eventually “closed” my collection as over 50 piggy ornaments of various shapes and sizes required a lot of dusting. I’m hardly a domestic goodness and enough was enough!

A young Pot-bellied pig at Southwick's zoo scr...

Image via Wikipedia

If I had plenty of land I would definitely keep Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. They do not grow very big, are absolutely adorable, and apparently are just like dogs. Unfortunately, I am a realist and it would be unfair for either the pigs or my Mr. Piglet to keep them in our urban garden. 

3.You seem to love the outdoors. Was that always the case, even as a child?

Yes, I’ve always enjoyed outdoor life and kept horses until my early thirties.

4. If you weren’t living in Portugal, where else would you enjoy living, and why?

It would have to be Canada. We love the wide opens spaces, stunning scenery and of course the people are so friendly.  

5. Is there something you haven’t yet done, that you hope to do next week, next month, next year, or years from now?

Wow, that’s a tricky question! My philosophy is live for today! OK, if we did not have grandchildren on the way, and money was no object I’d love to explore Canada, Costa Rica, Panama, Chile and Brazil. Just get on the plane and go!

an accomplished blogger indeed…very deserving of our kudos…hugmamma.  🙂

foreign country, home?

HGTV is one of my “go to” stations when I’m surfing the channels looking for somewhere to land. One of my favorite segments, which my husband also enjoys watching, is “House Hunters International.” Being “niele” (Hawaiian for “curious”, my family says I’m “nosey”) by nature, I want to see how other people live, especially in  foreign countries. What are their houses like? Do they reflect a totally different lifestyle, or one not unlike mine? What are prices like? Do they seem in line with what the homes offer in basics, as well as in amenities? I’ve seen HGTV shows filmed in cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Paris, Edinburgh and countries like Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Italy, England, Argentina, Costa Rica, and islands like Aruba, Jamaica, the Caymans.

Most of the locations HGTV visits seem to appeal to my exotic side. Of course viewing places I’ve not been as a traveler is like being in a candy shop, face pressed against glass cases, eyes bugging out over the contents. My latest refrain which seems ongoing is “We should retire there.” To which my husband’s reply is always “Yeah?” or “I don’t think so.” I’ve decided he has no exotic side, only a very practical one which keeps me fully grounded. If it weren’t for him, I’d have been airborne a zillion times, never landing for a breather. Of course I’m glad he never takes me seriously for then I’d have to “put my money where my mouth is.” And I’ve no “kala,” (Hawaiian for money, lots of it) to support a lifestyle of the “rich and famous.” Besides, we’re not of that class, being pretty simple in our wants and likes. I’d like a vacation home in Hawaii, and a Volkswagen bug, blue or yellow. See, pretty basic. Well, at least half my wants is…the Hawaiian home…with an ocean view.

While I’m caught up in the moment watching non-natives weighing the pros and cons of various houses in foreign locales, I’m amazed at their decision to live beyond their comfort zones. Some even retiring, lock, stock and barrel, to supposed final homes of their “golden years.” Besides needing a tremendously flexible attitude toward their adopted place of abode and its citizenry, these new residents must be prepared to live within the explicit, and implicit, laws of the land. They might find themselves adrift without a” life jacket” in a face-off with the ruling government where they’d taken up residence. Trying to cloak themselves in the American flag as U.S. citizens might be like moving a mountain, which might prove easier to do in the long-term.

Of note is the ongoing case of Amanda Knox, a University of Washington student who, while studying abroad for a semester in Luca, Italy was accused of murdering her British roommate. The rural town peopled by folk who have probably lived their entire lives in that village have little, if any, experience with foreign visitors except what is stereotypically represented. So it seems in Knox’s case being an American teenager may have prematurely cast her in the widely viewed role of “wild child.” Even I, sitting in the comfort and safety of my home in the U.S., can’t be absolutely certain if she is innocent or guilty. But while her case is on appeal and her parents wage an all-out-war, sacrificing much in time, energy and money, their daughter is serving out a 20+ year sentence.

Being a professed worrier, although I’m getting better, the rampant killings by drug cartels in Mexico City and other parts of Mexico, has me wondering about the safety of retirees who have moved south for the “good life.” In her attempts to assuage my concerns a friend, herself a regular visitor to Puerto Vallarta and whose friends’ family lives on the outskirts of the resort, assures me that Americans are safe. The resorts at which they are guests, are heavily guarded. I’ve also been told by the Mexican woman who works at the dry cleaner we frequent, that the sleepy village where she is from and where her family still resides, is untouched by the violence.

I am not as mystified about Europeans residing in countries other their own. It would be like my having moved from Hawaii to the east coast to New England to where I am now in the Pacific Northwest. The difference, of course, being that European countries are sovereignties. Furthermore the ability for Europeans to travel easily across borders, proposes a certain level of comfort. That ease and inherent comfort are not an intrinsic part of  moving from the U.S. to a country in Europe, Asia, or South America. And then there’s the language. Europeans tend to know more than their native tongue; we, on the other hand, rely heavily upon others knowing English.

It would seem that at least 2 categories of Americans make their homes abroad, those who take their identity with them insisting that their surroundings adjust; or those who are chameleons adjusting to whatever their environs require. Dear friends of ours, a gay married couple, recently bought a home in the Spanish countryside. Imagine my disbelief when my husband told me of their purchase?!?. “How could they just up and decide to move to Spain? Do they know anyone? Are they leaving for good?” But then I let the news sink in. I thought of the 2 men, their effervescent personalities, their annual social gatherings, their love of travel to places like Vietnam and the Galapagos Isles, and their talent for bringing friends together as family. Such reflection left me with no residual qualms, about these 2 fabulous men taking up residence in a foreign country. Perhaps,… I’m even a little envious of their hutzpah.

Having been raised on Maui, I often blame my islander roots as reason for not traveling farther afield with more frequency, or seriously contemplating a permanent home abroad. I use the same excuse for choosing to drive through residential neighborhoods or back roads, rather than speeding down freeways at 60 miles an hour trying to keep up with everyonelse. Call it an island mentality or fear of the unknown, I will never be Marco Polo or Magellan. Perhaps because of my dysfunctional childhood, I find that being with my husband and daughter is more important to me than traveling the globe in search of what I’m already blessed with here at home. But while my search is complete my daughter is confident she’d be fine working, and living, in Europe, if that’s where her career took her. And she goes with our blessing to live the life she envisions for herself, here or abroad. That won’t prohibit me from continuing to give advice, however, that she “drive carefully and be safe.”

is it youth that gives us wings, which when “clipped” in older age keeps some of us closer to the nest?…hugmamma.