Last week represented one year closer to my dual citizenship. People often ask me how I ended up in Portugal, and I can only say that once you have been here you will understand.
Growing up I knew very little about the country, just that my father would have a port wine after dinner every once in a blue moon, and I enjoyed the taste and the story behind it. Portugal he said, was on the other side of the world, the land of the explorers.
I have now been in Portugal for over 5 years, and I still have so much to discover.
The Lusitano, is the smartest, bravest, and most willing breed of horse that I have ever ridden, and recently when I was considering ending my journey with Batialo, the training wasn’t the thing that I was going to miss the most. The character that is my horse, how much he makes me laugh, and the amount I value his friendship was the hardest thing to face. Sometimes, our horses know us better than we know ourselves, and when you say that a horse can change your life, well, I have witnessed this first hand.
But that isn’t the only reason I stayed in Portugal. When I first arrived here my mind was my greatest enemy, and in Portugal I made it my greatest strength. Why? The people here have an appreciation for the things that matter the most, and I’ve said before that the Portuguese believe “time spent in good company, is time well spent”. I learnt that I didn’t need to worry about what happened next, because the moment I was living was the best one, the only one, and the one that I should enjoy to the fullest.
The food, well, I have eaten all around the world, and there has not been a single nation or national dish that has more history, and more tradition, than that of Portugal. The seafood, is quite frankly the best in the world, and the best kept secret, and for a girl who grew up on a cattle farm in Australia, every time I eat “marisco” I feel like it’s a delicacy, when in fact it is just the norm for the natives of the Iberian peninsular.
When Portugal was playing in the Euro2016 final, I felt honoured to be a part of it, and when I saw the Sydney Opera House lit up with the colours of Portugal, it struck something in me that felt very familiar.
The two countries that I call home, united in a sporting victory.
In truth I find many similarities in the cultures of the two countries, even them being on the far corners of the globe. Many countries love sport, but few countries will honour the opponent even in defeat, and celebrate their success, knowing that in celebrating the victor, we also honour the defeated.
If you have ever considered a trip to the Iberian Peninsular, if you love Lusitanos, or seafood, beautiful beaches, and a rich history, then don’t just take my word for it!
I was sitting on my favourite beach recently, and I suddenly felt a strong feeling of sadness, knowing that the one person I would love to share Portugal with, who would love much more about this country than the Port wine after dinner, would never know how far I travelled to know the land of the explorers.
One of my best mates said recently that I may not be Portuguese, but I chose Portugal, which makes me even more worthy of the nationality, and while I’ll always be Australian, I am proud to call Portugal my home.
To visit me and have lesson on a Lusitano, you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or read this blog for more info 😉