My favourite spot? Wherever the waves are excellent

Rik Dejonghe (47) is originally from Bruges. In 2008 he swapped Belgium for the south of Portugal, where he now lives in Figueira. Apart from an enthusiastic surfer, Rik is also the founder of surfboard shop Magic Board Center in Lagos.

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


What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Rik: As a Belgian surfer, I’ve always wanted to live in a country close to the Ocean. After travelling for a while and driving the entire length of Portugal from north to south, my choice fell upon the Algarve. Here, it’s mostly sunny, not too hot and because there are both the south and the west coast, you can almost always find good surf.


When did you feel at home here?

Rik: That took a while, because in the beginning I didn’t live here permanently. The first year, I came for three months and then afterwards went back to Belgium for work. The next year, I stayed five months and the year after that I ended up being here for eight months. After that third time, I decided to just stay in the Algarve and call it my home.


Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

Rik: Not really. I travelled a bit before I ended up here, so I was already used to a more relaxed way of living. If I’d have made the jump straight from busy Belgium to a permanent stay here in the south of Portugal, I suppose I’d have struggled more.


How does your life differ now you live here?

Rik: It’s a big difference compared to life in Belgium. In Belgium, it’s normal for people to settle quite soon. Buy a house, start a family and from there on, the train is moving fast on a determined path. Here, life offers a bit more freedom. The rules aren’t that strict, which also means you have to be more creative to earn your living.


What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Rik: Sunset surfing or surfing when there’s no wind and the water is smooth. Having some close friends with you in the water and getting excited about each other’s waves. Then, have a drink with them after the surf session and feeling totally relaxed.


What annoys you here?

Rik: When you’re doing business, it isn’t always easy to deal with unclear answers or promises. Things take a little longer here, or they aren’t always that accurate. Regulations or procedures can also change, depending on which person you ask.


What do you miss most from Belgium?

Rik: Apart from some goods that I really enjoy, like sparkling Ice Tea and truly fine Belgian pastry, it’s mainly family and good friends that I miss from Belgium. I try to go back a couple of times a year to compensate for that.


Which 5 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

Rik: Sunny, relaxing, awesome, friendly, freedom.


What’s your favourite spot?

Rik: Wherever the waves are excellent. This can be the case in Zavial (pictured below) one day and in Cordoama the next. But in general, you can say my favourite spot is somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Although I also like the little Algarvian villages, such as Ferragudo.


In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Rik: It inspires me to use my freedom more and do what I really like. You usually have more choice than you think you have. There’s no need to stay in a situation that you don’t want to be in. Also, the unspoiled nature in the western Algarve invites you to enjoy the outside life more instead of just sitting inside.


How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Rik: Since I first worked here as a surf teacher and my students were mostly tourists, my Portuguese didn’t really improve in the beginning. However, now that I have the surfboard shop and my contacts are also local people, I make an effort to learn to speak it fluently.


Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Rik: Travel and explore. Visit more than just the main tourist attractions. Instead, do your best to submerge yourself in the local culture. Learn from their good habits and mix them with the ones you already have.


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

Posted in Algarve expat stories.