Algarve Archaeological Association at the Castelo in Alferce
Algarve Archaeological Association at the Castelo in Alferce

Clubs in the Algarve: culture, camaraderie, community 

Three years ago, soon after my wife and I immigrated to Portugal, I had many moments of severe homesickness. “What the heck have we done?”, I thought.

After living my whole life in the same place, with layers of social connections, now I am in a new place, knowing almost nobody, starting from scratch. It reminded me of freshman year in college, the feeling of unfamiliarity and not knowing where to fit in.

Shortly after meeting our new neighbors, they kindly recommended joining two garden clubs and an archeological club they were members of. Well, I’ve never been a “joiner”. When it comes to clubs, I agree with Groucho Marx: “I would never be in a club that would have me as a member.”

Algarve Archaeological Association in Moura
Algarve Archaeological Association in Moura

But my wife and I knew we needed to get out, and we do enjoy gardening, so we went along with the idea. Now that I look back, it did set us on the right path of making friends and fitting in.

As we all live our lives, we go through different stages and have different purposes. We all remember getting through school, finding a job, navigating a career, a marriage, a family, etc. If you are lucky to be alive and retired, it’s time to enjoy! The question is, what is your idea of enjoyment? Relaxing by a pool? Playing golf? What else?

Algarve Gardener at an orchid grower in Madeira
Algarve Gardener at an orchid grower in Madeira

People need a sense of purpose in life. Those who have one are happier and live longer. It is deeply embedded in the human psyche to belong to a community, and have a feeling of acceptance and belonging. For the retired person moving to a new place, clubs and groups are a great option.

Some clubs and groups are not really advertised or well publicized, and members come word of mouth. However, a multitude of organizations can be seen on Facebook. Love it or not, Facebook is useful. Look at some of the groups on the Algarve: Active Life, Selling, Photographers, Tuk Tuk, Social and Chat, Lovely Anything and Everything, Wildlife, Retire, Nightlife, Spiritual, Expats, Digital Nomads and Freelancers, Archeological, Hiking, Organic Gardeners, Music Bubble.

Algarve Gardener in Madeira
Algarve Gardener in Madeira

The list goes on, and if you can’t find one that interests you, you can start your own.

These photographs are from some group outings I have participated in. They include big trips to Madeira, Galicia, and Alentejo, as well as local one-day visits to fascinating sites. Traveling in groups has pros and cons, but I would never have seen and learned so much on my own.

So, give it a try. If I was a member of the Betting Club, I would wager that you’ll be glad that you did.

Clube Bon Jardin plant show
Clube Bon Jardin plant show

By Eric Roth

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Eric Roth is a lifelong photojournalist who has recently emigrated from Boston, USA to the Algarve. He loves nature and wildlife. 926 742 687 | [email protected]