Monday, 4 June 2007

Portugal - Is it safe?

I wrote this reply to post on TripAdvisor from a Portuguese colleague who was fed up withe European Press and Media in the follow-up to the Praia da Luz kidnapping case.


Tens razão!

I have now lived in the Algarve for 10 years.

It is no longer Portugal, (continuam ser "Os reis de Portugal e do Algarve!" ), it is, for good or bad, the first true Euro Region in the EU, (something I suppose Portugal could be proud of in some respects) with people of all different nationalities living in reasonable harmony!

Nonetheless, it is still part of Portugal and Portugues is the official language. However, here in the Algarve now, even in Pingo Doce or Modelo, I have to force the empregados on the tills to speak Portuguese with me, as they look at me and say "Estrangeiro, tento falar inglês!" (Foreigner, therefore I must try and speak English!)

Its tiring!

I remember 5 or 6 years ago the Governador de Distrito de Faro launched an appeal to all businesses operating in the Algarve to respect the Portuguese language and have all publicity in Portuguese. There was an improvement for a while but now in many cases it has reverted to English only.

It is amazing how many tourist and real estate related websites dealing with the Algarve are only in English. I cannot get over how many foreign-run businesses here ignore the Portuguese and Emigrante market (France, Luxemburg, Germany). Yet it is these markets together with the growing Spanish market that have kept the Algarve Tourism industry running and growing over the past few years. I personally, in my daily work, will not deal with companies that only market in English and not Portuguese!

On the funny side, I always point out to my friends that many foreigners, even those who have been here for years, only speak a maximum of 2 Portuguese words. Bom Dia e Obrigado. They have no interest what happens north of Monchique and the Serra. They do not know the name of the President, his place or origin (Cavacstão :) - No, just joking - Boliqueme), the name of the Prime Minister nor the most important religon in, not Catholicism ..... Futebol!!! ::))))

They also have no idea of the tremendous influence Portugal had in developing the modern world. I have been blessed in my life to have lived in Moçambique & São Tomé and to have visited briefly Angola, Cabo Verde & Macau. I have seen evidence of Portuguese influence along the coast of South Africa where Bartolumeu Dias & Co left their markers and Mombasa in Kenya where the Fortaleza (a practical clone of the one here in Lagos) still stands as a testament to Portuguese bravery, madness and initiative! :))

It is interesting that in the Lusophone countries the quality of spoken Portuguese is generally much better than the english spoken in equivalent former colonies.

In all Portugal has much to be proud off. It is going through some difficult economic times at present but I am exicited by the lead it is taking in development of alternative energy, for example. Who would have thought, even ten years ago, that EDP would be a world leader in wind farms by now.

It will get better and people will again respect Portugal. Its only a matter of time.

Two final thoughts about your comment about the English man in Luz on the TV complaining about the GNR. I saw that clip and asked myself:

"Well, if he could communicate with the GNR why did he not get hold of a friend who speaks Portuguese to call the GNR. "

Then I realised.... he probably doesn't have any friends who speak Portuguese!

Secondly, while the RTP,SIC & TVI reporters who were based in the UK during the intial phase of the terrible incident conducted reports in Portuguese and interviewed passrs-by in fluent english, I saw no reporters from any of the english language channels that invaded Luz and Lagos (and made life hell for us here) speak a word of Portuguese - all the time criticising the local law enforcement authorites whose first language they could not understand. Talk about press bias!

Força Portugal!

and now

Agora, teve continuar as minhas ferias no Algarve! :))))