A year on the island of Q&A

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Today is another TEACHER’S DAY in my life. This time the island became the teacher. It’s been a year since we moved here permanently. Yesterday, walking along the beach, swept by the warm wind, with my feet in the water, I tried to sum up this year. I was curious what questions my loved ones would ask today. What are they curious about, what interests them the most?

I answered all the questions. Thanks to this, my summary has gained more quality.

  • Why did you decide to make such a revolution in your life, and after a year, do you think it was a good decision?
    My husband had his reasons, and it was he who showed me a broader perspective on the “place to live”. He is a sailor, he has seen more (also metaphorically). For me, after the death of my mother (my dad has been dead for 32 years), there was a conviction that I had nothing to lose. Suddenly, in all the places where I lived, I no longer felt “at home”. I wanted to implement even more clearly the plan I had come up with a few years ago: to be healthy, not to work, to create and enjoy every day. All this was in line with my husband’s idea, who reminded me that I once pointed out this place to live myself. I did not expect that I would gain additional bonuses in the form of the first garden at home in my life and beautiful nature within easy reach. Despite the costs (well, they were different), we think it was a good decision.
  • Where did you get the courage to make this decision?
    I have been building courage over the last few years. It was a longer process than you might think. The most important were the answers I found thanks to important questions posed to myself in a long break from work. There was a time when it turned out that for the first time in my life I would not be able to work. I couldn’t contain my emotions: grief, sadness, fear, anger. They spilled out of me before the next day of work began. I decided to take a vacation to take care for my health, during which I had the greatest luxury, i.e. time. I took my first, uncertain steps on the way to myself. I had time for long, lonely walks. I read books which re-evaluated the previous patterns of my thoughts about myself and the world. And that’s when I noticed a strength in myself that I’d always had. No matter what happened, I could handle it. Sometimes I felt sorry for myself, I often clenched my fists, sometimes it was necessary to bite my lips, but in the end I was able to handle everything. That’s why, when I made the decision to move to the island, I ALREADY KNEW that whatever was going to happen… I can do it.
  • What did you leave behind according to this?
    I threw away all my winter clothes and boots and a lot of unnecessary stuff (haha), but seriously, I left a whole past. It may sound trivial, but closing the past is not easy. I thought it was the best moment. Getting rid of all material things one by one, I rearranged my value system, said goodbye to the different phases of life and the roles that I assumed as my own. I also said goodbye to the places I loved. Time has shown that also with some of the people important to me. I left part of my identity.
  • How do you live there? What about work? How has this affected your relationship?
    We live well. The weather is conducive to well-being, the wind from the ocean blows out all the stupid thoughts in heads,  if they want to stay a little longer. Just look from one vantage point into the distance and you immediately know: the ocean was made long before you and will continue after you. In such circumstances, you “work” for others because you are kind, open to cultural, racial and identity diversity. I promised myself that I would never again feel like “I’m at work.” I teach, but I’m not at work. I’m creating, but I’m not at work. I produce, but I’m not at work. I work, but I don’t work. All this affects our relations very well. Every day we learn ourselves. Sometimes it’s difficult, other times it comes easily. Certainly, building a common reality at this age, with many previous experiences on the lifeline, without anyone’s interference and pressure was pleasant for us. We care about our relationship with much greater awareness.
  • What was that first year like: easy or difficult? Has this time allowed you to feel like full citizens of the island?
    Every day, everywhere, looks different. This is not affected by latitude. After a year, we feel welcomed into the diverse community of the island. We were even eligible to vote in the presidential election. We meet many different people and have never encountered any unpleasant situation towards us. We sometimes feel more secure here than before in our country, city, district. Keys left in the ignition of motorcycles or cars, with the peace of mind that no one will take advantage of the opportunity, open doors of houses, awareness that half of the residents are several multi-generational families, and tourists want to feel good here, because it is their holiday – all this makes us feel safe.
  • Are there many like you – newcomers who have chosen the island as their new home?
    Most of the newcomers are foreigners who buy a house on the island as the second, in addition to the one in which they live permanently. There are those who spend only holidays in it, others due to the weather move here to the middle of the year, when winter reigns in their countries. I do not know the exact statistics, but we met among them the most British, Germans, but also the Dutch and Swiss. There are also a lot of Madeira residents who have second homes here. There are definitely fewer people like us who come “from afar” and decide to live here permanently.
  • What does your everyday life look like now and in what respect is it different from everyday life in Poland? (it’s not about the climate and nature, because it’s more of an addition, it’s about the people around and what your usual day on the island looks like)
    As in Poland, I took care of contact with friendly people, of whom there are many here. It was contact with people that once convinced us that this could be a place for us. Islanders smile widely, like to joke, enjoy when we speak their language and help with everything. I have nice neighbors from behind the wall, a nice saleswoman in a local shop, unusual friends-artists and fantastic colleagues from language lessons. When it comes to everyday life, we have simplified everything we could influence. We have less of everything. Less things, less information (thanks to this less stress), less action, less stimuli. In return, we have more time, peace, patience.
    Every morning I let the cats out into the garden and go to make a “round”. I am lucky that every morning I am invited to a tasty breakfast performed by a personal kuka. But we also like to eat breakfast “in the city”, i.e. in the center of the island, because here many people meet before work for coffee. Then, as a rule, I write, read, crochet or play the piano.Around noon, when everyone is getting ready to go out for lunch, we start Our Portuguese lessons. After lunch, we are happy to sit down to the computers, but not for long, because it is always a good time for a ride around the island: for shopping, for the beach, for meeting friends. Here everyone works with a long lunch break and after work they eat lunch (it’s already evening for us). During the day, of course, you also need to find time for “duties”, i.e. dealing with matters regarding the house, garden and preparing food for cats.
  • Your favorite food on the island.
    Already in my childhood I loved bananas. At that time, it was a luxury and very exotic commodity. The best bananas I ate recently came from the Madeira garden of our Polish friends who have been here for 12 years (ours, the garden ones are still very green and apparently we will wait for them until spring). I also love passion fruit in any form: whether in dessert, in a local “poncha” drink or straight from the garden.
    Although in Poland they were bad for me – here I fell in love with hamburgers (but only in one place on the island). They are made by a family pub in our immediate area. We liked them so much that every Thursday we meet with Poles for a hamburger.
  • What makes you very angry/delightful there? The biggest surprise and disappointment at Porto Santo.
    The biggest surprise was the fact that other Poles live here. When we meet them, it me off that they can’t help but talk about politics and complain. The biggest disappointment in Porto Santo turned out to be rabbit hunting – that is, the fact that the tradition of hunting is maintained. In October, you can hear gunshots, and barking dogs. A year ago, not long after receiving the keys to the house, near our garden, we saw a scene that I wanted but I can’t get out of my memory. Hunters drove rabbits out of burrows with sticks, and dogs caught up with them on the run. The screams of hunters, the waiping of animals and the sight of boys among adult men did not give me sleep long after the hunt. On the other hand, the beauty of nature in this tiny corner of the earth does not cease to delight.
  • Was there a moment, after moving, when you were afraid that “it will not work”? And if so, how did you deal with it?
    The moment when I doubted whether it would be possible to live in a different culture was the time of hunting. As usual, I managed to say “whatever happens – I can do it”. I wrote to whomever I could, pouring out through the translator all the emotions associated with it. There are also times when I feel abandoned by my friends from Polish. I didn’t foresee that. But as usual, I’m looking for a life lesson in this.
  • What do you miss the most? What don’t you miss at all?
    I miss meeting friends and family (fortunately, there are crazy people who visit us). I am not forced to miss the cultural life, because thanks to the pandemic I have everything I need via the Internet. I don’t miss the fast, commercial life of a big city.
  • Do you feel a change in yourself after this change?
    And Yes and no. I feel a change in my body. And not by eating pastel de nata (local delicacies). In Poland, I took a fast, shallow breath and slowly exhaled air from my lungs, and then there was a long pause, as if I did not want to take another breath. Here, more and more often, I feel like breathing deeper and saturating myself with air smelling of salt water, or papaya flowers in the garden.
  • What are the most memorable months and why?
    November and December were special for me. The feast of the dead and the first Christmas away from the traces of my ancestors were different. But not sadder at all. I understood that I always have them in my heart and I can light a light of remembrance of them everywhere. And at the end of June, the first guest from Polish came to us, so we found out that this is not the end of the world and those who want to – will arrive.
  • Each new experience enriches us. This experience was quite concrete – how did it enrich both of you?
    This experience has enriched us with further evidence that if you want, you can even more than you think about it.

Today I would make the same decision only with even more conviction that this is the best decision for this stage of my life. Lyudmila Ulicka said: “To have the right teacher is like being born a second time.” Thanks to this small island, I was born again.

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