I love spending my day in nature, I have been really enjoying seeing life through my daughter’s eyes, she wants to have fun, and I have the notion that everything I can do with her makes sense. Maybe I wouldn’t go for half of the things that I do lately without her, for example paddling in the river, surfing, horse riding, setting up a slackline, but I have much more fun, at the end of the day I’m tired, I sleep well and I’m happy. I also started to read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I believe there is always a child inside us. My goal now is to enjoy life, that is partly why I live in Southwest Portugal, to be able to keep life simple, to be barefoot. It is a huge privilege, I tell myself all the time what a lucky bastard I am.
In 1998 I was planning to live in Mozambique, Africa, I already had a job there, when I came to the Algarve for a weekend, and I just fell in love with this area. I studied agriculture in Lisbon and from part time jobs I had saved up 250 EUR.That was the amount of money I had in my pocket when I moved here at the age of 21, and I kept on staying and staying around here. Now I can state that half of my life has been lived here, between Arrifana and Carrapateira, my two special places. I started with a Bed & Breakfast, then I opened my first restaurant with live music in Arrifana. Since my daughter was born life has changed: I started to think about healthy and organic food, having a garden in the back, and I opened Cato in Carrapateira. I always liked hospitality and cooking, I didn’t plan to work in tourism, but I was always that guy, who prepared the meal when we were with friends. However it is very hard to have pleasure and give quality at the same time in a restaurant with a lot of seats, it is not like when you go to your friend’s place and by using your hand you make magic. It requires a lot of creativity, also because I use as many local products as I can, and having a garden is a big challenge, but at the same time it makes me enthusiastic. I love cooking from scratch, to go back to the roots of everything and to produce all the ingredients I use for cooking, this would be my philosophy.
I like good food and good music as well. I am also interested in the cultural aspect, not only the entertainment side, the old way of doing things that may be lost because of, for example, the massive increase in tourism. To keep the traditional, “old-style” identity of this place is one of our most important tasks. I have been part of Rota Vicentina since the beginning, and all this region has changed a lot since then. In the beginning local people didn’t look so kindly on the natural park, they felt it was going to make their lives much more difficult with all the restrictions. Now, clearly, it was the best thing that could have happened: instead of having lots of buildings here, we have this beautiful rural landscape, which now, because of Rota Vicentina, has a life of its own all year round, but not ruining, rather adding to its local heritage, and that makes a big difference.
I really like Mozambique, the light there is different, and how people live their day, their moments. Once when I was there, I saw some boys playing football at the beach every day and going fishing only every 4th or 5th day. Once we started to talk, and I asked them why they didn’t go fishing every day; their answer was because they didn’t need to. I tried to convince them if they would go tomorrow to fish, they might be able to buy a radio, but they said they didn’t need a radio. They just lived for the moment: when they were hungry or their mum asked them to they go fishing, but they enjoy their lives and play football on the beach. They don’t even worry about selling the fish, because if nobody comes, they will eat it themselves. It is so simple, it summarises the simplicity of life. But all of us want more, this is our mentality. Me also, although I would like to feel inside like them. Modern world has too much control and rules, so I prefer life like this, in this hidden corner of the world.
The photos were taken in Cato.