Anyone who knows this area will easily understand that this is a place you fall in love with very easily. I had never been to the Litoral Alentejo before moving here in 2007. My wife’s family is originally from the Alentejo, and we wanted to give it a try. When I first arrived in Odemira, I asked how this place can exist here without my being aware of such beauty: the greenness, the different landscapes with curvy roads between hills, beaches and waterfalls. Now I own a house with a piece of land where I can raise my kid, plant our own fruits and vegetables, and we have water so we can survive no matter what happens.
I grew up in the centre of Lisbon, studying in the morning and having afternoons free to play in the city gardens. I had my house key, and I only went home for lunch and dinner. Now when I go to Lisbon, I just see families with kids, but kids don’t play with each other, and also the profile of the city has changed in a good, but also in a not so good way. My parents were also from there, and we spent our holidays near Sintra, by the beach, which was the only natural experience that we knew. I studied Economics and Accountancy at the technical school, and IT management at university. I was working in Lisbon, and in Sines, always within the areas of IT and innovation.
After leaving my job in Sines, I had the opportunity to move to Angola, and I spent two years there. All the things we have in Europe, like quality issues, needed to be applied there, which is not easy, because it doesn’t work in the same way. I understood that I was helping the people who live there, giving them access to knowledge that they did not even dream of having. They didn’t have the chance to go to school as we did, or even if they went they didn’t have the best conditions. But the hardest part was being away from my family, specially with a 4year old kid, with whom the phone and video calls were just awfully painful. And on top of all that Angola is not a safe place, I always needed to look over my shoulder. But with all the difficulties it was an amazing learning experience, and I benefitted greatly from learning different ways and by lowering my expectations. Because of the 2016 oil crisis I had to leave Angola, and I had the chance to be part of this amazing project called Rota Vicentina. It was just the perfect place to be, and the invitation came at just the right time, so I returned to Portugal, to my family and to Rota Vicentina in Odemira.
I knew about Rota Vicentina even before joining the team. I was aware of its existence, and I recognised the efforts and all the good work being done for the region: to be more sustainable based on a nature project, as a core, and helping people who are originally from here and to promote this whole by bringing more people here in a positive way. When I was invited to participate I felt so blessed, not only because of the project but also because of the position. They were looking for a person to deal with people and companies, which is my natural expertise. I feel very comfortable doing that, it was just a perfect match. My task is to maintain relations with the already existing partners, to expand the associated partner community, and to deal with the mountain and touring biking projects. There is no other project where you can interact with the whole region: I work from Santiago do Cacém to Lagos with accommodation,restaurants, transport and animation activities. And this is what I really love: meeting and relating to people.
I believe there is something up there, and I am just thankful for having all this around me. Having the opportunity to work while living in this area, to raise my kid here and to meet all the small corners and hidden spots of this paradise make me happy. I go out on the trail, I hike a section and I find myself in the middle of a small heaven. I live in a place where everyone else is coming for a holiday.
The photos were taken in São Domingos.