So, firstly hello. I am proud of what Sofia has done with this blog. She is a great photographer and has learnt a lot with the computer since undertaking this record of life in Australia. I have been asked to say a few words on what it is like to put your life on hold, something which my beautiful girlfriend is currently doing, and doing well. I truly thank her for this commitment. It is all how you like at it really isn´t it? I mean, I am not a philosopher, but by moving to another country and being limited in work options and by other people´s perceptions of your abilities does not mean life stops. It just moves in a different way. There is something thrilling about living a life full of unexpectation. We are always going to be encouraged by society to live a life of fulfilling a duty: get a job making or serving, work hard, save plenty, meet someone, join a committee, retire etc. I am not knocking this. Far from it. For some of us this option is something that can easily be put on hold. I am one of “those”. I am happy to transfer those responsibilities to go forth and see and experience more. I do acknowledge that for some it is not their “way” and prefer to do a two week vacation and some planned trips. I however, am happy to live with very little money, possessions and see where I end up. And luckily so is my girlfriend. I met Sofia on my way to Montenegro, both mutually stuck in Italy trying to deal with a Serbian ferry operator who seemed to be charging too much compared to what we had heard being the price. I tried to bargain with the bloke, got nowhere, and then watched to see how these three girls got on in their attempt. Sofia was the spokeswoman and I watched as I pretended to slowly gather my passport and put my money back in my wallet how she would get fare in her attempt. I had mixed feelings about her attempt. Part of me wanted to see her succeed so I could then try and get a cheaper rate and start my bargaining attempt once over. The other competitive part in me was thinking “hah! Good luck missy, you don´t stand a chance!” She had no luck. Sofia went back to her two friends and instructed them on the cost etc. I was there thinking to myself, “their language is different… It sounds a bit like Spanish”, but I had worked with a Columbian guy for a while in Germany and knew it not to be this. I thought that the girls all had different colouring and appearance and therefore sounding a bit like Spanish, they were Brazilians. But then, their talking was too rapid, too European. I couldn´t figure it out. I had not slept or showered in a long time and thought it best to not trouble my limited brain function or come too close to them where they were introduced to my unshowered aroma by enquiring further. But as curiosity and a realization that I would end up in a foreign country at a pretty late time in the night, not knowing where I was to stay, where I was landing, nor any words in the language, perhaps I should strike up a conversation to get help in these matters… The girls were bloody useless. They seemed to have less idea than me! Sofia told me the reason she was going to Montenegro was because of a picture of a lake. She showed it to me and I thought that was fair enough. My reason was my mum had told me she had seen pictures of it and it looked really beautiful. At least Sofia had a picture, I had even less to go on, but felt like the place was going to be beautiful so I was happy. I found out they were Portuguese. I had never met anyone from Portugal before. Mindful of my lack of a shower for a couple of days and sleeping two nights on the ground of a train station I tried to keep my distance without being rude. So I started travelling and enjoyed my time seeing Montenegro and Croatia with Sofia and her friend Sandra. I started to become close to Sofia and by the end of her holiday we were still travelling and she asked me to come back to Portugal. I said yes. We landed in Portugal and I had a great dinner with her parents. The food was unbelievable and they were really nice but my god, I was nervous and wondering what the hell was going on! Before too long, I was living in Portugal. I had a routine of meeting up with her friends, going surfing around Lisbon or Ericeira during the week and travelling with Sofia in her van during the weekends. At times I used to think, I am too old to be cruising around doing this! My friends are getting married, have bought houses, have careers. I am now a bum who knows how to order coffee and make a joke about not understanding a foreign language! I had a great relationship. Still do. Apart from this, I realized that no matter what happens in my life, I am extremely lucky to be living in a foreign country getting to know people my own age, as well as what family life is like. This is an amazing experience and something I have had the privilege to have done before and something I recommend everyone do at least once in their life. So, did I save up money? Hell no. Did I progress my career? Maybe not. But I learnt a hell of a lot. I learnt the importance of communication more than ever before. I learnt the true power of positive thoughts, a smile and a can do attitude. Sure, these skills you can get anywhere but not like living abroad and travelling. These skills transfer across into so many areas of your life. My life in Portugal and also now is great and a big reason for that has been to share it with my beautiful girlfriend. Keep viewing and reading her blog as I know her enthusiasm and attitude on life will rub a little off on you as it did with me. And maybe it might inspire you to go on an adventure with an open mind to all possibilities and be rewarded beyond your belief as well…

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