‘Home is where our suitcase is’

Patty den Boer (50) is originally from Poortugaal (no, that’s not a typo) in the Netherlands. In 2014 she moved to the Algarve, where she currently lives near Moncarapacho, together with her husband and daughter. An artist, Patty is best known for her colourful paintings, which can be admired on her website or on Algarve Art.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine October 2017

 

What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Patty: Together with my husband Joost and our daughter Puck, I left the Netherlands in the summer of 2014 by car, with only a suitcase with some clothes and stuff we thought we could not life without for a year or so. Because Joost was travelling around the world for his work at that time, we didn’t have to stay in Holland. So to make our dreams come true, we decided to give living a more barefoot lifestyle a try. It became Portugal. Somehow, we ended up in the east-Algarve. We had never thought of moving here before, but we instantly fell in love with this part of the country.

 

When did you feel at home here?

Patty: Immediately, as we found a little Portuguese house for all year rental in the mountains above Vila Nova de Cacela, which was a very loving start with our Portuguese neighbours. For us, home is where our suitcase is, as we’ve travelled around the world for many years with the Nederlands Dans Theater. Now we moved to our fifth house here in the Algarve, so I actually don’t know anymore what the definition of a home is. Initially, it was quite a challenge to leave all our stuff behind, but in one way that was exactly why we made the decision to move: a more simple life here in Portugal.

 

Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

Patty: No, it wasn’t hard at all. In fact, the Portuguese lifestyle suits me so much better in many ways. I find it much more relaxing as it’s not so much focussed on consuming.

 

How does your life differ now you live here?

Patty: I’m a painter, so my daily life doesn’t differ that much. However, it feels so much more intense here, probably because of the light and the soil. Living here, I do more things outside, and this being closer to nature inspires me a lot. Also, I’m immensely enjoying the Algarvian scenery; it surprises me every time.

 

What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Patty: Seeing the sun coming up makes me smile, and when the sun goes down the nature is so magical. I don’t have a favourite spot although I love my view on the mountains. Strangely enough, I prefer the mountains over the sea view!

 

What annoys you here?

Patty: There’s nothing here what annoys me; it’s more that I can’t believe there are so much beautiful houses turning into ruins and that instead of restoring them, they build these pink Barbie villas. It also amazes me that the Portuguese aren’t more creative with their water-collecting-solutions.

 

What do you miss most from Holland?

Patty: I don’t miss anything especially from the Netherlands. What I miss here in the Algarve though, is the energy of forests with big trees, like you have in the northern parts of Europe.

 

Which 5 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

Patty: Beautiful nature, lots of sun, friendly people, good fresh food and the typical ornaments and chimneys of the Algarvian houses.

 

What’s your favourite spot?

Patty: The Ria Formosa in Cacela Velha. When we lived in the mountains of Vila Nova de Cacela, I fell in love with it. There, you can walk to the other side at low tide or have a nice short walk along the beach to Fábrica (see intro picture).

 

In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Patty: As a painter, I can say that my paintings have become much more colourful and brighter in the south of Portugal. I became very productive here, also when I was on the move a lot: I’ve even had a couple of exhibitions in the Algarve.

Because there isn’t much distraction, the Algarve inspires me to live more basic. This could be seen as boring from a ‘city-point-of-view’, but as a mother I can say that it helps me to live more in the moment.

 

How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Patty: When I asked my daughter: ‘Why didn’t those Portuguese people understand me?’, she replied: ‘Because what you say doesn’t sound Portuguese, mom!’ So I gave up, although I tried to understand the language with Portuguese lessons which were really helpful.

I feel more like a global citizen, a world traveller… That’s probably also why I was attracted to the Algarve, because of its international character. I don’t know what my next destination will be, but I’ve had to make myself clear in all kind of languages, and it was never a problem as I just used my hands and feet and made drawings. That’s maybe why I miss the urge to do my best when it comes to learning Portuguese. The fact that I speak a universal language with my paintings isn’t really helpful either…

 

Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Patty: My secret is to step out of your comfort zone, take another road or even go off road, and maybe then you’ll discover some hidden treasures in the south of Portugal. I’ve already found many such treasures during my Algarve experiences, while letting go of stuff and every time again getting used to a new environment.

 

Intro picture by Kyle Rodriguez. Words and all other pictures courtesy of Patty den Boer.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine October 2017

Posted in Algarve expat stories.