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Luis, Portugal

[What is your name?] My name is Luis Manuel Vargas Guerreiro.

[How old are you?] I am sixty-six years old.

[Where are you from?] I’m from the Alentejo, from the city of Beja. I was born in 1948.

[What did you do in your country?] In my country, I was a technical sales representative. I worked for a Spanish company, “Roxy”, in textiles and sporting goods, and in essence, I did that for some years. But basically, I always worked in the area of sporting goods.

[When did you leave your country?] In 2004. I left Portugal in 2004. I didn’t have a job anymore, they said that I was too old, and so… My son had been living here for a short while here in Northern Ireland, in Portadown, and I came here to see him. He was living here, and I stayed.

[You came here on your own?] Yes, on my own. I came on my own.

[How long have you been living in Northern Ireland?] Eleven years. I have been living here in Northern Ireland for eleven years, always in the same house and at the same address.

[And why did you choose Northern Ireland?] Since I was very young, I had been hearing about Northern Ireland. Why? Because in the streets around where I lived for many years, in Beja, there were some farmers who had horses which they had come here to Northern Ireland to pick up, of a type that you didn’t see when I was a boy. I really liked animals of that sort. Em, and so, I started to…I always looked out for news on Northern Ireland, on the people, what they were doing, on how they lived, the Troubles. And so it was always a country that I liked and I always wanted…I had always thought about coming to visit.

[And what do you do in Northern Ireland?] Well, when I arrived in Northern Ireland in 2004, I started work the following day, in Moy Park. I worked in Moy Park from midnight until 8:00 in the morning. It was a huge change in lifestyle, but I accepted it, I liked it, and I kept it up. I worked in Moy Park for almost ten years, and well, it was very difficult, but it was good. For me it was a good experience.

Nowadays, at the age of sixty-six, I am retired and I am still living in the North of Ireland. My wife is here, my children, so are my nieces and nephews, I have two granddaughters, and we’re fine. We’re...we’re fine. I really like being here in Northern Ireland; I like the people in Northern Ireland. I like the lifestyle. Em…I like the greenery. For me, that was something that always attracted me; the greenery, the grass, the trees, the birds. I love birds, and there are some very beautiful birds here. And all this…Well, I have been used to the countryside since I was very young, and so I feel very at home here. And I am going to stay here, I’m going to stay. I hadn’t been to Portugal in nine years, and now I don’t know how many years it will be before I’ll go back there, because I like being here. My mother, who is 88 years old, has been here to see me several times and she stays for a while with me, and my sister; and then they go back there and I stay here. And here I am.

[And what objects did you bring with you when you came? Objects from Portugal?] I didn’t bring much with me when I left Portugal. I didn’t bring much. I put a tile in the suitcase I brought with me; I have it here, with the emblem of the city of Beja. I brought these tiles with the emblem of the city where I was born. And later, I brought other things, you know? I brought….I brought my Rabelo boats and I brought a lot of…a lot of news items, a lot of books onPortugal, and I have them here at home. And now I’ve finished…..in September I finished bringing all the rest of what I had from Portugal. And now I have everything over here. In Portugal, I haven’t…as I would joke, I haven’t two beans left!

[And what is the importance of these objects for you?] They are reminders…they are reminders... Em…I brought some sand from the beach as well, but basically, they are reminders. They’re not,  of huge importance at this time, but when I feel the need to be reminded of my country nowadays,I go on to the Internet, and I can find a lot of images. I really like Cante Alentejano, a Heritage of Humanity. I listen to Alentejano singing a lot, a lot of Portuguese music, and a lot of music from the Alentejo, especially. I like the Alqueva Dam, I like the countryside of Alentejo crickets, the olive groves, the fields and the livestock. All of that brings back memories from when I was a child, when I was running around everywhere, jumping and playing; I went swimming in the River Guadiana, because it was close by, you know? I would swim in the Guadiana, and then I would have to go home quickly for lunch because of my father, and then I would go back to the Guadiana again in the afternoon. And when I didn’t go to the Guadiana, I went to the lake in the public park where taking a dip proved very inviting, then dive in further on up where no one could see you. Then the warden would come down, complaining, it’s you again, always here... But it was very warm, it was 40ºC. In the month of August in the Alentejo, it’s terrible, well over 40ºC, and I had to have a swim, you know? So that’s what I would do, I would go in for a swim. Fully dressed, like my dog who was always with me, and we’d go for our swim. Then we had to run away, you know? The pranks of childhood! Then I would go to the seminary, the seminary was just in behind. I would go to the seminary to play football with the trainee priests, and then they would give me an afternoon snack. We’d play football, and then they’d give me a snack. It was very interesting, because we didn’t have an afternoon snack in my house, you know? I’d go there to play ball, and then they’d give me a snack. They’d give me bread rolls and cheese, but they didn’t need to give me fruit because all I had to do was turn around, and I knew where the trees were! I’d always go there to get a piece of fruit to take home. It was to take home because the cheese, the bread with cheese or jam was enough for me, you know? And coffee with milk, and playing football with them, sometimes all afternoon, you know? It was great fun at the seminary! The only thing was….was that they didn’t ask me to become a seminarian, because I think I was a bit of a rebel at that time, you know?! I was a bit of a rebel for that era, and so when they got into religion, I was on my way to collect the fruit, but so.