Simple, pure & beautiful

Expat Sima Soltani (51) is originally from Iran, but has lived in Holland for 15 years. In 1999, she moved to the south of Portugal where she now lives in Sesmarias (Albufeira) with her two dogs, Lily and Richy. Sima is a health, sport and wellness coach and has her own company SIMAFIT sapvasten, which organises detox holidays in the Algarve.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine December 2016

What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Sima: It was almost exactly 17 years ago that I visited a friend of mine who lived in Portugal. At that time, I was already saying goodbye to Holland in my mind and looking for a place where I could start over new and feel happy. The Algarve appealed to me; it seemed simple, pure and beautiful. After my visit, my friend told me there was a job for me here; people were looking for somebody who could do sport, coaching, massages and had experience in working with people. It all worked out perfectly.


When did you feel at home here?

Sima: The first day I came here, the 13th of August in 1999. It was love at first sight between me and Portugal. Already after the first night I knew I wanted to stay. In the 17 following years I have never regretted it or thought ‘what if’ or ‘should I’. In the Algarve I feel well, both mentally and physically.


Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

Sima: No, not at all. I’m Iranian and I’ve lived in Holland for 15 years, so I was already accustomed to adapting to a different culture. One and a half decade in Holland was enough though – I wasn’t feeling myself anymore. When I arrived in Portugal, I blossomed again. The Portuguese lifestyle has more in common with the Iranian lifestyle than the Dutch. For example, both in Iran and in Portugal, it isn’t the end of the world if you’re a bit late for a meeting or an appointment. In Holland, this would be unthinkable.


How does your life differ now you live here?

Sima: I enjoy life more; I appreciate all the simple things and feel grateful for being able to live in this beautiful country. The quality of life here is 100 times better than in Holland; it’s pure and simple. This fits in well with the detox holidays that I organise. I coach little groups of people from Holland, Belgium and hopefully very soon also from other countries; I teach them to live healthier and stimulate them to get the best out of themselves. Detoxing is hard; you’re working on your body as well as on your mind and there’s a lot of exercise involved like walking and aqua jogging. However, I make sure that it’s a holiday as well, so we also visit the beach, go on a Jeep safari or look for dolphins in the ocean; I like showing them the nature and culture of Portugal.


What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Sima: Sunset, full moon and sunrise. Also, it’s whenever I’m walking my lovely dogs in the Algarvian nature.


What annoys you here?

Sima: Having a damp house in winter time.


What do you miss most from Iran and Holland?

Sima: Family, of course, and my friends. All my family are still in Holland or Iran, and despite having made some friends here, it isn’t the same. It’s hard to get real contact with the Portuguese. However, in the last few months I’ve met some new people and we’re planning to meet up again soon so it’ll all work out.


Which 5 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

Sima: Beautiful, pure, natural, rest & safe.


What’s your favourite spot?

Sima: I particularly like the Atlantic Ocean, I can watch it for hours. And every day I walk my two dogs, Lily and Richy, on the beach and along the cliffs. The coastline close to my home is amazing, just 10 minutes away there’s Praia da Coelha, and the other beaches near Albufeira and Guia. Even though I come there every day, it never gets boring.


In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Sima: I feel comfortable and at ease here. In the Algarvian society, you can be yourself and do whatever you want. Of course you have to follow certain rules, like paying taxes, but apart from that, you can start a business and follow your passions. Also, people here leave each other free and respect each other.


How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Sima: I get by, but of course it could always be better. In the beginning, I took lessons and was very enthusiastic to learn the language. But when starting a conversation in Portuguese, often people would reply to me in English which didn’t help a lot. I think that if I’d have children, my Portuguese would have been way better as dealing with things like school and homework would have forced me to speak it more.


Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Sima: Be free, be yourself and enjoy the moments that the Algarve gives you: the nature, the climate and the nice and quiet people.


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine December 2016

Posted in Algarve expat stories.