A nice small country near the sea where more than 15 million people lives there, which makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Even though itâ€™s densely populated, it has many nature areas and magnificent views. With itâ€™s picturesque towns and villages. And all over the country you can find water, water, and more water.
Rivers and canals run through the cities and the countryside. Cows and sheep graze in green meadows and water flows through the ditches that surround them. On the coast there are broad, sandy beaches, dunes, and popular seaside resorts. It is a low-lying country and most of it is flat. Almost a third of the country is below sea level. The lowest point is 7 metres below sea level. Dunes, walls of earth called dikes, and other sea walls protect the country from the water. Without them, many areas would be flooded at high tide. The highest point is a hill 320 metres high located in the south. It has a temperate climate. The winters are mild. In January the average temperature is 2 degrees Celsius. The summers are fairly cool. In July the average temperature is 17 degrees Celsius. But during the summer it can stay warm and sunny for a few days, and temperatures can reach 30 degrees Celsius. In the winter there is sometimes frost or snow, and in both autumn and winter there can be storms and sometimes it is foggy. In the morning there is often mist on the pastures. Sometimes the cows disappear half in the mist. A curious sight.
15 million people? Below sea level? Dikes? Half cows in mist? Surely we are not talking about Madeira! Is it Portugal then? No, it neither Portugal. The country I describe you here above is my home-country, namely the Netherlands. Some of you would have guessed this already when reading the description above.
Yes, I am Dutch. Technically speaking I am half-Dutch. The other half of me descends from Madeira and thus, again, technically speaking I am also half-Madeirian. To make the confusion bigger, I was born on CuraÃ§ao (Dutch Antilles).
My mother is from a town on the island of Madeira, that earned its name from the rocky point jutting into the sea and that reflects the suns rays. It is considered to be the place that receives most sunshine than any other place on the island, namely â€˜Ponta do Solâ€™. 45 years ago a young lady from Ponta do Sol took off on the ship â€˜Vera Cruzâ€™ from Funchal to build a new life abroad. A few years later I was one of the results of that building plan.
My roots can be found on 2 islands on this world, which is CuraÃ§ao (Caribbean) and the other Madeira (Atlantic Ocean). You could say that I have a transatlantic-split-island-personality. And did you also realised that both island are names of beverages?
Back to the start of my introduction. I gave a short description of the Netherlands, also known as â€˜Hollandâ€™. My intention with this is to give you an idea of my former home-country. A country that I have exchanged for our new home-island, namely Madeira. In other words, we have moved to the â€˜Pearl of the Atlanticâ€™ …. trading in the â€˜half cows in the mistâ€™ for the â€˜cows above the cloudsâ€™.
The reason for our move to Madeira is simple. Not only because of the Madeirian genes that fills half of my body, but also after paying several visits to the island, we both felled in love with it. Not only the island, but also the people, the way of living, its nature, culture, beauty, climate and especially its lack of most negative events in the world.
My favourite description of Madeira is a phrase I once found on the Internet. This could have been one of the lost paragraphs from the Holy Bible:
After God created the world, He sat back and admired His handiwork, and having been pleased with what He had done, kissed the world tenderly. And where He placed the kiss, Madeira was born.
My bond with Madeira has strengthened the last few years. It seems that the half Madeirian in me has increased lately. They say that your motherâ€™s blood in you gets stronger when you get older. And if there is one thing I know, is not argue with your mother!
It has been always my favourite holiday destination, and now …. it is our new home. My wife and I are both aware that this is a different way of living and we have to work very hard just to be able to cope with the life here on the island. Our goal is to contribute our knowledge and expertise to the Madeirense community in exchange for the possibility to start a new life on the island of Madeira. We want to be part of the community and not to be seen as tourist anymore.
I therefore hope that I can share with you my experiences, and tell you more about my new adventure, together with my lovely wife, on the World Heritage â€˜Laurissilvaâ€™ island. And how knows, maybe during a levada-walk we will see a half-cow in the mist. In that case you will be the first to know.