IVS volunteer Jardel Rodrigues is currently living in Funchal and volunteering with AAUMa through the European Voluntary Service. Jardel has written an article about his time in Madeira so far.

The Art of Being Lost

Before arriving on the project – I didn’t completely know what to expect. Am I going to love it, am I going to hate it? Will I pick up the language easily? What will it be like being non-native of the place I’m in for the first time in my life?

Now that I’m here. I can honestly say I still don’t have the answers to these questions…but I do know one thing, it’s the curiosity of NOT knowing that is spurring me on and igniting the inquisitive flames of my heart to continue this journey.

I always hated children’s shows like Dora the Explorer – I never thought that I’d be buying her books in order to try and improve my Portuguese. I also never thought I’d be able to communicate with my grandmother who is Madeiran…but only through reading Dora has that been possible!

It’s a massive change going from inner city Manchester to this small island. But a needed and welcomed change, indeed.

Everything is different; the sounds, the sights, the people, the food, the tastes – the FEELINGS. It can be hard to get used to – but I’m getting there. Of course, naturally, a few home comforts are missed.

As I discover the Island, I discover myself. I’m learning a lot about my heritage (my father being Madeiran) that I never knew. Some traditions seem completely bizarre to me – others make sense and I wonder why these traditions are not global!

In fact, this journey has made me open my eyes to a certain ignorance of my own…perhaps a naivety, rather than an ignorance but nonetheless; I now realise the importance of learning another language. It’s all well and good to only speak English – but on an island like this where the locals (and my family!) only speak Portuguese; how am I supposed to connect with them as a human being!? Am I to EXPECT them to speak my language? NO! When in Rome – you do as Romans do.

My work here is really interesting – any job that involves learning history is a good job. Generally, I take quite an informal approach to my tours – which seems to go down a hit with my tourists! Especially the ones from North England! I suppose it’s quite a shock for them when some dark-haired fella with “Jardel Rodrigues” on his name badge opens his mouth to release a hard Mancunian accent and declare that he doesn’t speak much Portuguese. A good shock though…(I hope).

I’d never swam in the ocean until a few days ago…oh, how this island can make a man feel free. I’m sure my entries into these texts will get filled with more and more memories as time goes on – as I am only 3 weeks in.