Meet the Local is a series designed to uncover the differences (and similarities) in how we think and live in different parts of the world. Over the upcoming months, I’ll ask locals from places all over the world the same set of getting-to-know-you questions. This week, we meet Jose, a former teacher who is making a new living in tourism after being laid off during the economic crisis.
What do you like about the place you live?
I don’t really know how to explain…I just feel like it’s here, where I belong. I lived in Spain for a few months, I lived in Romania for a few months, but I always feel the need to come back home. I feel I have my family here, and I have everything here. I really feel at home here.
What don’t you like so much?
The politicians. Because they do all of this to our country. The economic situation of Portugal, I think it’s their fault. Because we work, we do all of the things we have to do, and they ruin everything. I think this is very common in Europe, the politics are each time less credible, so the people don’t really trust anymore in politicians. In Portugal, 40% of people don’t vote. So the people who do vote don’t really represent anything, and the politicians can do whatever they want, because the people don’t care.
What do you normally eat for breakfast?
Three slices of bread with butter and chorizo. Coffee with milk.
What do you do for a living? How important is your job to your sense of self?
I was a teacher, teaching sports. I really like to work with children. It was nice, I was doing something different than other people, because I used to work in summer camps too so I was taking the way of teaching in summer camps inside the school. So I was not teaching sports, I was teaching games, and I was trying to teach values with those games. First I would read the story, then I would do a game, and then I would relate the game with the story and real life. I went to a small village to teach, but I was not from there, so when the crisis started, the people who don’t have friends are the first to leave. So they asked me to leave. Now, I do tourism, I run a walking tour company. I really like it, because I can stay in Lisbon where I like to live. I meet a lot of people, so even though my friends are leaving to get jobs in other countries, I can make new friends. Of course, it’s not the same thing, but it’s okay.
What do you do for fun?
I go out at night, I go to the cinema. I like to climb, but I don’t climb anymore, since I started the tours. Because most of my friends that climb, they do normal jobs so we don’t have the same schedule. I also like to run with my father, my father and I run together. And travel.
How often do you see your family? Tell me what you did the last time you saw them.
I live with my father. I see my mother one or two times a week, just to talk with her. I see my sister when I see my mother – they don’t live together, but she’s always there. My grandmother also lives with us.
What’s your biggest dream for your life?
Right now, I don’t have many dreams. I just want to make sure the situation doesn’t get worse, or at least the tours keep running as they are now so I can at least have a stable life. Some of my friends, they are really bad in their lives. They were married and have children but are living back at home with their parents, or they have moved to other countries and don’t really like their jobs or the conditions that they live in and I don’t want that to happen to me. So I don’t have a dream, I just don’t want to have a nightmare. But if I had a dream, I would want a small house with a small garden where I could sit in the plants.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
Here. When I was younger I always wanted a house with wheels---a mobile home---so I could travel, but I think if I had that now, I would always come here.
What are you most proud of?
Now, it’s the tours. When I came on and my friend was running them, they were almost dead. Nobody would trust them---if you asked someone about our tours, people would say, “don’t go! It’s terrible!” And now we’re the sixth most popular thing to do in Lisbon on TripAdvisor, and I’m really proud of that.
How happy would you say you are? Why?
From 0 – 10, I would be a 6. I think everything is going well in my life, but I would like to have more friends, and a girlfriend. My friends left---but the girlfriend, well, I’m a bit shy.