From Portugal, with mixed feelings - Issue 57 - Magazine | Monocle

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Jaime Maia, 43

A manager at one of Luanda’s most popular bayside restaurants, Cais de Quatro.

“I used to sell kitchen equipment in Aveiro in northern Portugal but business was not good. A friend who was already in Angola suggested I came out here to try my luck. I first came out for a visit in 2008 and then moved over in April the following year. My girlfriend has since come out to join me, finding a job at the Portuguese school.

In Portugal the economy is not in a good way – there are not many jobs or options, but here there are plenty. It is a country where nothing is defined, which means there are more risks but also more opportunities.

A lot of my friends in Portugal ask me about Angola and want me to help them find jobs. I have to tell them that while I do have a good life, I work very hard and the conditions are not always easy. There are many challenges at home and at work – Angola is not for everyone.”

Patricia Teixeira, 32

Works in marketing for an Angolan bank and has lived in Luanda since 2008. Her husband, Goncalo, was born in Angola but raised in Portugal.

“Goncalo had always kept his Angolan passport and when he said he wanted to come back here, as I was just graduating it seemed like an opportunity for an adventure. I do miss Lisbon, being able to walk around and catch public transport and things like that but Luanda is my home now. We have a baby son who has Angolan identity. I don’t think we will go back to Portugal any time soon. Most people come here for work but we came for a personal project and for the experience.

Financially it was a big raise for me to come, especially as I had all my expenses paid with my first job. And, of course, that is why most people come: wages are low in Portugal and there aren’t many jobs available, but there are more opportunities here because so much needs to be done.”

Pedro Freixo, 37

A diving instructor who arrived in April and runs Angola’s first Scuba school.

“For the past five years I’ve been teaching Scuba in the Algarve during the summer and then working in sales during the off-season but this year there were just no jobs. Now I have pretty much doubled my salary and the work here is all-year round. I’m also not paying for my accommodation and I get a car.

The first two weeks I was here I was getting stressed about the traffic and people being late but then I realised there was no point so I’ve just adapted to the Angolan way. My dad worked here in the 1960s so I’d always heard about Angola from him and wondered what it would be like.

People are here for the money – don’t let them tell you any different. Yes, you can grow to love it here but the primary reason for the Portuguese coming out to Angola is to make money.”

Jose Machado, 45

An architect from Porto who moved over in 2009 as a partner in an Angolan firm.

“Working here can be very complicated. The challenges in Europe are amplified many times, but it is rewarding to feel you are contributing to a county that is developing.

I’m here to do business and make money, of course, but I also enjoy Angola for its weather, the beach, the lifestyle, the music. Sometimes there are tensions between the Angolans and the Portuguese, especially seeing as so many Portuguese are coming over just now but I’ve personally never had any problems. Whenever I go back to Portugal for business or for holidays, I start to miss Angola after a while.”

Rita Lagarto, 28

Rita’s boyfriend came to Luanda in 2011; she joined him in March and works for an advertising agency.

“I like my job very much. It’s not what I was doing in Lisbon but professionally and personally I’ve learnt to deal with very different sorts of situations.

You don’t have the freedom to walk down the street alone like you do in Lisbon, but I have a big group of friends from Portugal and at the weekends we go to the beach, have parties – that is a lot of fun.

I am Portuguese and I love my country, so I hope I can go back one day. But, for now, I am happy to be in Angola.”

Joanna Guerreiro, 29

Works in PR and arrived in Luanda in March this year.

“Everyone in Portugal is talking about the opportunities here. You can get a good job that’s better paid and even though Luanda is expensive you can make a lot of money because companies will pay your costs.

I have found adapting to living here harder than I thought. We have problems with water and electricity, and you are restricted about what food you can eat. As a woman it is complicated to drive here so you have to rely on a driver, which means no freedom.

The first weeks here I cried every night. I have decided that Angola is not for me and I am going back to Portugal as soon as I can. I am glad I can go back to a job because many people don’t have that option.”

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