Gary is from a small village called Maerdy in the Rhondda Fach, Wales. After spending one year on his EVS project in Portugal he decided to move to Lisbon.
“I was very interested in Portugal, to learn the language and be totally immersed in the culture and after 3 years of searching for an European Voluntary Service (EVS) I found a project in Faro, focusing on media through my sending organisation UNA Exchange in Cardiff. On my EVS I was making films in Faro for a Portuguese organisation called ECOS. We started a project called “Impressions of Faro” and we made three films in total on various subjects with young people from Faro. We used to do “vox pops” walking around and talking to young Portuguese people which was really interesting. We were very fortunate because one of the volunteers that was with us was fluent in Portuguese, so she could go around and speak with the people in their language and we could record and then translate afterwards and create subtitles for non-Portuguese speakers. One particular video was really popular because it showcased the beauty of the city, which is a time-lapsed video of 24 hours of Faro. It was something that took us a long time but it was really well worth doing it.
Besides working with ECOS, I enjoyed a lot working with the Associação Recreativa e Cultural de Músicos. The music association made a theatre play where they went to historical places within the Algarve and formed open air theatre about the 4 legends of the Algarve. My role in that was to set up the sound system for the accompanying band of musicians that provided the soundscape. We did this for two months and we went to different places, which was very interesting. One of the places was Capela de Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe in Vila di Bispo which was built by the Knights Templar in the second half of the 13th century this incredibly old chapel was just of the highway leading to Sagres, the most south-western point of Europe.
During my year in Faro, being so close to the ocean I decided to take part in a scuba diving course. There is a big scuba diving culture in Portugal and it is a heaven for marine biology and the University of Algarve has a lot of marine biologists there. I met some friends who studied in this field and we used to go scuba diving together. It was very interesting for me and I learned to do underwater and nature photography. In that sense, Scuba diving became important for me because I could use this skill alongside the media production skills that I have.
It was always sunny in Algarve and we used to go to the beach till mid-November. We used to go to on a small pontoon on the Ria Formosa to watch the sunset. During the shooting star season we sat there together and it used to be an incredible setting to be in. We would watch the shooting stars and the moon above. I think it’s just worth it to spend some time near the ocean in the sun, which is always nice.”
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