Q: Good afternoon. How old are you?
A: I’m 33 years old.
Q: Do you have any children?
A: I have got two daughters.
Q: How old are they?
A: One is 8 and the other is 12 years old.
Q: Are they in school?
A: Yes, they are. The eldest is in secondary school and the youngest is in primary school.
Q: Are you Spanish?
A: Yes, I am and my daughters are Spanish, too.
Q: Where are you from, exactly?
A: I am from Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia.
Q: When did you come to Portugal? For how long have you been living here?
A: I met my husband in 2007 and came to Portugal in 2009. So, I have been living here for about 8 years.
Q: How did you meet your husband?
A: Well, I had separated from my first husband. As for him, it was his last day in Sanxenxo where he went for his summer vacations. In Sanxenxo you find lots of Portuguese people but it was the first time I had spoken to one. It was during my separation and I did not want to know about men, but he appeared in my life and we never left each other again!
Q: You say your daughters are both Spanish. Why?
A: Because my eldest daughter is also daughter of a Spanish man, my ex-husband. My youngest daughter is from my actual husband, but she was born in Spain.
Q: For how long have you been in Spain and your husband in Portugal?
A: 2 years. Two years coming and going continuously.
Q: After those two years you decided that it was enough. What made you want to move here?
A: I also wanted to change my life. Nothing held me there, he had his work here, I had no difficulties with the language, so I decided to move here.
Q: Did your eldest daughter come with you right away?
A: I wouldn’t risk coming if I couldn’t bring my daughter with me.
Q: How was her adaptation to Portugal?
A: She went to kindergarten and adapted well. Although, sometimes she says it was not as easy as we thought, but she would not tell us anything to keep us from worrying.
Q: What about you, do you have a job?
A: I do not work at the moment. I have already worked. My husband and I opened a restaurant with Portuguese and Spanish food. Unfortunately, one year after I fell and since I already had problems with my spine, I injured myself seriously and I could never work in this field again. I have many physical limitations. That’s why I dedicate myself to taking care of my daughters.
Q: What relatives did you leave in Spain?
A: I only brought my daughters with me, no one else.
Q: Close family?
A: Yes. Mother, father, sisters, nephews, grandparents, uncles, aunts…
Q: So, your parents and grandparents are still alive?
A: Yes, since I came here only a cousin of mine died.
Q: Did your relationship with them change? How do you communicate with them?
A: On the contrary! I’ve always been very attached to the family. Everything we do, we do for love. Unfortunately we live surrounded by people who only think about money, but it is the love that changes the world. It was hard to leave everything behind, but I think we are closer than ever.
Q: How often do you visit them?
A: With my parents and sisters I talk to them every day, thanks to WhatsApp. At first it was all more complicated, difficult … whenever I can have a vacation, I go there immediately. They also visit me. My mother comes to see us whenever she can.
Q: They do not live very far from here, right?
A: They do not live very far, but they work, they have children in schools, and of course the money they spent when they come here also counts. My mother, if she could, she would come here every weekend.
Q: You said that at the beginning it was hard to communicate with them. Why?
A: We only had the internet, the e-mail, it was not fast, was complicated. Now I use the webcam and I can see people while I talk to them. It’s not the same thing as being with them in person, but it’s much better than it used to be.
Q: Do you share photos and videos with them?
A: Yes, I share everything! Even the videos I do with my daughter when she is studying for a test, for example in English. She likes to read aloud to an audience, and she likes to be filmed while doing it. My grandparents do not even understand what she says, but they’re all proud when they hear her! I send everything, because I want them to accompany the growth of my daughters. My eldest daughter came to Portugal at the age of 4 and, if I didn’t show them these videos, they would lose a lot of important things. When we visit them they always say that they have grown a lot, that they are different.
Q: The relationship of your family with your youngest daughter is the same as the one they have with your eldest daughter?
A: Yes, it is the same.
Q: Does your eldest daughter have any relationship with her father’s family?
A: Besides her father, she has only a grandmother. With her father she talks little. She does not have a close relationship with him. He comes to Portugal once a year, spends the weekend with her. Now she has a younger brother from her father’s relationship with another woman. With her grandmother she has a closer relationship. When they come to Portugal, they stay in my house. This may be difficult to understand, but we just want the best for our daughter. My husband really likes my eldest daughter.
Q: Here in Portugal, what is the relationship that you have with your husband’s friends? Are you adapted?
A: Now I’m super adapted. I have now been here for 8 years! When I got here I had to live with people of different ages, different generations and the mentality in here is 50 years behind Spain. I’m a village girl, I’m not a city girl, but the male chauvinism, the way men saw and treated women, was what bothered me the most. But then I got used to it. When I had the restaurant, I remember that women couldn’t go to have a coffee alone. In Spain that doesn’t happen.
Q: Do you live in a small village, now?
A: No, I live in the center of Lousada and I think people should be more open minded. People like to gossip here. I do not know anything about my neighbors’ lives. I also do not know if they know anything about my life, but that does not interest me.
Q: At the moment you are living in Portugal, you are an immigrant here. Have you ever thought about emigrating to another country?
A: I only came to Portugal because I wanted to be with my husband, he is very attached to his land and his country. I think if we had to change, it would be for Spain. If we did not have our daughters, that would be something else. My husband had the opportunity to work in Italy in the race cars, and he rejected the proposal, because every three months he had to go to another country.
Q: In the future, do you see yourself living in Portugal or do you think you will return to Spain? Do you have this desire?
A: I think everyone would like to live where they were born. When I first got married, I moved to the city, but it was half an hour from my family, it was different. I think I’d like to die there. But listen, I sometimes ask myself what I would do if I won the lottery, where I would build my house. I do not know. My heart is divided. However, my vacation, the whole time I have I go there, I have my relatives there. My daughters like to go on holiday to Spain, but they really like the friendships they have here. My youngest daughter stays here, naturally, the oldest one goes to Spain. She wants to study here but in the future she wants to work in Spain.
Q: Do you feel that the origins and roots of your eldest daughter are in Spain? Is it her wish to return to Spain?
A: It’s her wish and mine too. The essential is that she’s here with me and if we go, let’s go the four of us. But she is an adventurer and she likes to study. She likes to study here, but she has also studied there. In Spain, kindergarten is not for play. She had English and other subjects.
Q: You said earlier that the Portuguese mentality was less evolved, everything seemed older. And what is your opinion regarding public institutions such as the school, the town hall, the police, are they better here or in Spain?
A: In relation to the school, although the Secondary School is very beautiful and modern, I think the school works better in Spain. I think it’s more demanding with students. My eldest daughter has a cousin of the same age who only has classes from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., she has free afternoons where she can have more time to study and get good grades. My daughter is a hard worker and she gets good school results, but I think the niece is happier, because my daughter dedicates the whole day to her studies.
Q: In what grade is your eldest daughter?
A: The 7th grade.
Q: And the youngest one?
A: The 3rd grade.
Q: What about primary school, what’s your opinion about it?
A: I do not have any complaints about the teachers, I see that they strive to do a good job. But here, children learn to write at the age of 6. In Spain, 3 year-old children begin to learn the letters. I am thirty-three years old and when I went to primary school, I already knew how to read and write, add and subtract. Regarding the heating of the rooms, there are fireplaces here, in Spain there has been another type of heating in all public schools for many years! Yes, I see delays in these aspects. I am very shocked by the money politicians invest in gardens, for example, which I find very beautiful, in Spain there are no such beautiful gardens, and do not invest in Health. I see so many deficiencies and delays at the level of hospitals, which shocks me. Fortunately, I had to go to the hospital only a few times and for a short time, but health is what worries me the most at the moment. Besides, they are not new, they are old. People have knowledge, but they are behind. If I compare my daughter to her cousin, her cousin is much more advanced than her. If I had to enroll my daughter in a Spanish school, she would have many difficulties, not only at the language level, because there they study two languages, depending on the province where they live. I studied two languages and had a childhood, I played. I feel that my daughters do not have a childhood and do not have extracurricular activities. My eldest daughter took ballet classes and had to give up because she did not have time to go.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Immediate plans, seeing my daughters grow up, because as my husband says I care so much about them, that I forget to live. It is true. Another difference I see here in Portugal is that I am misinterpreted for not working, or for not working so hard and dedicate myself more to my daughters. In Spain, women work too, and here the grandparents cannot help us with our children, and I am astonished when I hear parents saying that their children should stay in school longer. I like to share as much time as possible with my daughters. I like to know how their day went, what test they will have the next day, I like to have dinner with my daughters, spend time with my family. My daughters say they have colleagues who spend their weekends with their grandparents. And I think there are parents who do not know their children, do not know what they do during the week, or what they think, or the problems they have.
My daughters say they have colleagues who spend their weekends with their grandparents. And I think there are parents who do not know their children, do not know what they do during the week, or what they think, or the problems they have. Just to see the differences: a friend of my daughter used to come to my house on Thursdays because her father is a friend of my husband’s. One day the girl became ill, I told her to lie down, I measured her temperature, I gave her a medicine and she was very surprised and asked if I was like that with my daughter when she was sick. My daughter replied that I was always like this. So the girl commented that her mother was not like that even when she was ill.
There are parents who would rather work, go out with friends than be with their children. But that depends on each culture, each family. I will not say that Spanish families are all like this. My daughters like to spend time with their father and mother. If they have a birthday party on a Sunday, they will not go. They prefer to stay with us.
Q: So, your family is your priority, right?
A: Yes, absolutely. We will see when they grow up. My husband says I will suffer a lot, but we will see…
Q: Ana, thank you very much for your testimony and for your collaboration.
A: Thank you.