Friday

Poor, but Wonderful--Questionnaire #5

My friend said, more or less, "If you decide to go to Portugal it is a very good idea; it's a wonderful country but it's very poor, you have to think about that. But for living it's wonderful. What do you think about going to France? It's fantastic, too."

Then I said to her:
Poor means not shiny and new? no nuclear? no military to speak of? no missions to outer space? no strong arm tactics on former or current colonies? If Portugal is poor because it has no money, no problem Money is fiat currency anyway. :) Central banks print money governments could do the same thing....but money is not wealth. Right?

Thanks for the warning. I'll try to better understand what you mean by "poor."

And she kindly replied:
When I say poor I want to say that there isn't any work, there are lots of jobless people. It's a very small country and they do not have cattle ranches and fishes, nor good earth to cultivate. The people don´t have money, they can´t pay heating and their basic necessities. 20 years ago the people didn´t have food, now they are a little better, but it's a poor country.


And I thanked her:
Thank you for explaining what a "poor country" is. Sometimes I need help! Thanks!

From what you explain, Portugal sounds like a place where I could find laborers willing to work in exchange for housing, electricity, food, water, sanitation, and a small salary.

I believe that your opinion of Portugal is one that is shared BY MANY. What you think is not unusual.

For the life I want, I don't need or want much money. I do need and want certain material things of value like housing, farmland/orchards, potable water, electricity, etc...

I believe that Portugal may have the raw material and the need for what I have in mind...

  1. What is "Portugal" for you?
  2. In what ways is Portugal "poor"?
  3. In what ways is Portugal "wonderful"?

9 comments:

Ëarithranduil said...

In the terrible combats that the Roman armies faced in old Lusitanea, actual Portugal, made Julio Cesar described the Lusitans/Portugueses in the following way: "They don't governed themselves, or let be govern"... It is the way we are...

We are not a poor country... but we have poor people...
We are not a rich country... but we have rich people...

We have education, health, social safety...
We have history, culture and identity...

We have beautiful and ancient cities and monuments... other not so much...
We have Sun and Sea, Plains and Mountains...

We want to live...
We want to be happy!

You must forgive me for writing this, but in the USA, with your dimension and heterogeneity, you cannot claim the same...
Portugal can be a poor country... but a situation of poverty as it was visible in New Orleans even before the hurricane Katrina, is difficult to find in Portugal.

Tanks for your choose...
Tanks for believe in us...

Nia here! said...

What you have written is very thoughtful and considered. In what you have communicated, there is a beauty and authenticity that I appreciate and respect. Thank you very much for your contribution to this blog and more.

AjBesta said...

uau... , I liked to read...and I find a discretion notable of my country , congratulations…and thanks a lot...
...sorry for my English...

...saudações de Portugal...

Chris said...

So true! Guess I share your views on rich and poor! Poor people who think Portugal is a poor country.

;-)

Mauigirl said...

I love Portugal - have been there three times (so far). Portugal still has wonderful warm people who are living traditional lives...perhaps some people think they are poor. I think they are fortunate to live in such a beautiful country. I think some work very hard and I know the economy in the past has not been that good from US standards. But being a member of the EU has helped them move forward. I hope they don't move forward so much that they get the ugly urban sprawl and soulless workaholic mentality of America (where I live!). What I value about Portugal is the sense of peace, the beauty, the artistry (architecture, pottery, tiles, art) the enjoyment of life that I see there. And of course the food and wonderful (still underrated by the rest of the world) wine!

Anonymous said...

Man, I was leaving in Portugal for 4 years, and I'm so glad it's over. I dont want to say anything bad about this country, but these are the issues I had:
1) Bad food (took me 2 years to cure my stomach and get rid of diarrhea, sorry) - the variety of dishes is very small: fries, pork, 3 kinds of fish, some seafood, 3 kinds of vegetables.
2) Fake smiles in the street, or no smiles at all - Portuguese people dont like foreigners, unless they give them money.
3) Discrimination of foreigners: I saw very bad attitude towards Spanish speaking people (and others) there, especially among taxi drivers (if you speak Spanish, your luggage maybe just drop on the ground), a friend of mine from Argentina also had very bad experience...
4) Very bad attitude from males toward females - total disrespect, my wife could not simply pass a group of 3-4 Portuguese males without being treated like slut. That's why all the Portuguese ladies are so suspicious and aggressive, their reaction on a simple compliment can be as bad as slapping your own face... :(
5) The health care system is in ruins, doctors are so incompetent, I knew more then them (and I just had nurse training!). I wanted to cure one tooth and I spend more money to redo it when I got back from Portugal. My wife got microbial imbalance after some drugs were given to her after a doctor's visit, then our own doctor was pulling his hair when he knew what was prescribed without a blood test!!!!
6) and so on...

Not the best place to live, unless you want to save money...

Nice art and views though... But the south is very commercialized...

O Pombo said...

Poor but wonderful???? Oh please, that looks like "Fado Fátima e futebol"-We need to be a Modern Country - not "pobrezinhos e com orgulho"

turtlebella said...

hmmm, I can understand where people may be coming from. And there is a tendency for people from places like the US to romaticize some of the poverty that is seen in Portugal, and I include myself in this tendency. And so I can understand o pombo's comment- Portugal wants to leave behind their legacy of poverty, leave behind the years of malnourishment, no jobs, little schooling, and move forward into the modern era. Certainly no one wants to choose poverty over modernity. It's sometimes hard for those of us who grew up in wealthy nations to understand this- we may have never experienced real poverty (although it certainly exists within the US, as Katrina so graphically illustrated). And so we see people living 'traditionally' - subsistence living or in the crumbling houses of the old cities and we think- how authentic, how real. But can we blame the young generation from wanting what we have always had, an easier life, homes that are not crumbling slowly into dust, better sanitation, enough food, jobs that pay reasonable salaries?

I lived there for two summers - for work. I fell in love with Portugal, no holds barred. There is poverty, but not on the scale that I grew up seeing in Mexico (my mom is Mexican). And the economy is growing quite quickly, although I know many young people still leave to get better jobs in other EU countries.

I had a very different experience from that of anonymous while living in Portugal. I found the people warm and lovely (aside from one - only one taxi driver whose taxi I left because he was terribly rude, but um, we have no rude taxi drivers in the US?!). They may be reserved at first- okay so they are reserved, but after a few moments they are wonderful, lovely people who take a sincere interest in you. And one can certainly understand their aversion to Spanish-speakers! After all, their history with Spain is contentious one and many people assume, a) Portugal is part of Spain, b) people in Portugal speak Spanish - forgetting that there is a language called Portuguese. So going there and speaking Spanish and expecting everyone to understand is a bit...rude in fact. It took me awhile to get over being stared at- staring is not considered rude like it is in the US. At first I took it personally, it must be because they know I am a foreigner and don't like me. But no, it's just cos they like to stare/look at people, I think. And in fact, many people thought I was Portuguese (or at least of Portuguese descent, that's how they explained my not-very-good Portuguese, but I tried really hard, speaking Portuguese, and by and large this was very appreciated, even if sometimes I lapsed and said a Spanish word instead of the Portuguese). After awhile, I just ignored the staring and got over myself. I was a single woman alone in Portugal and NEVER once experienced what anonymous' wife did- I was never catcalled at or treated badly by groups of Portuguese men! I don't know if this was a regional thing or because I was in a small town, primarily or what (although I did go to the big cities- Porto, Coimbra, Lisboa- often and it never happened there either). I probably wasn't treated quite like Portuguese women- I was definitely anomolous- a woman in her 30s without children or a husband (!!), but I had my job - a professor- to shield some of that I think. I was different, but the Portuguese men I knew seemed okay with that, or at least were not disrespectful to me.

I love the food of Portugal, but then again, I love potatoes and rice!!!! And there are lots and lots of fresh vegetables available at greengrocers- something I love about Portugal, that the produce you buy at greengrocers is fresh- often picked that morning- and not flown/trucked in from far, far away, using more carbon than is really needed. Portugal is much better at eating locally than is the US- something I personally strive toward, and which is better for our environment in the long run. I adored the art and architecture of Portugal, and the natural environment, which is so varied- mountains, gorgeous beaches (I've only been to the ones in the north, on the Costa Verde), beautiful rivers and river valleys, cork tree orchards, lakes, grape-growing regions, and arid mountains that look like something from the moon. These reasons and the people are why I find Portugal "wonderful." I desperately want to go back!!! And once we have children, my husband (I am married now) want to take them there to live. To experience a place totally unlike the US.

Nia said...

Romanticizing squalor is not the thing to do. However neither is chasing the paradigm of materialism the thing to do either. Everyone everywhere must have clean water, clean food, electricity, convenient modes of communication, transportation, housing, hygiene/sanitation...
If the ideal is to be rich with money to spend for whatever things or services one might desire then indeed Portugal is poor. And if the nation seeks richness in that sense then I guess my next question would be...what things and services shall we by with our money? Will the production and use of these things/services support life or destroy life...will there even be a concern about such considerations in the individuals of the nation? Is the "life style" of the US admired or pitied? Is it found desireable? Does Portugal compare itself to it's neighbors and want to be like them or be even more like them that they are themselves/ AS in one-upmanship, bigger and better?

Thank so much again Earithranduil, mauigirl, o pombo and turtlebella...your remarks were thoughtful and spoken with sincerity.

I hope to look at some people and/or communities that are enjoying "rich" and sustainable lifestyles, who have their basics covered and have very little need for lots of money to live well in material terms that make sense to them.

Do they exist? I hope to find out? Maybe you can show me the way.