I believe that there are very few things, explained, that equal the feeling of belonging to a community. Life bestows many pleasures and sorrows, but when it comes to that feeling that starts in the chest and spreads up and down through the stomach and into the throat, that feeling of peace and fulfilment framed in the margin of a river as beautiful as powerful, that sensation of being surrounded by people that embrace you and respect you… That warmth is what I wish for every living creature. Because if we could all experience it at some point, the world would be a totally different thing. 

I was about to pack my bags to take my house in Barcelona on my back, back to Portonovo (Pontevedra). Used to be a snail, always with the essentials in my backpack, and an involuntary nomad, in search of non-existent work, for me it meant another step on the road, but also a forced landing in detachment. Once again I was forced to say goodbye to my friends and ties and to the urban landscapes of one of the cities that made me grow as fast in two years as the digital revolution in the 21st century. The plane ticket was ready at the click of a button when Elena called me from the foundation. “Do you want to go to the north of Portugal for three months to do your internship with a very cool group, all financed?” “Where is the hidden camera?” I answered urgently. 

“Life is a dream”. That was my first thought when the doors of the van that planted us in front of the Casa de Juventude de Amarante opened. When we look out over the river and see the reflection of the bridge, the stars painted in an open and welcoming sky, it seems that everything was welcoming us in silence. And then chef Ondina’s lasagna arrived; the pasteis de nata from the El Muiño bakery; the after-dinner cafes in the patio of the Magnolia, where the hot war of foosball and the cold war of chess were disputed; excursions to O Porto; Socratic walks along the river; the races to the Parque Florestal in search of shade and calm; the baths and the adrenaline jumps in Praia Aurora, the nights of Dixit and Superbock; the parties and the dances in the Aldeia and the wonderful and endless confidences in the south end of the bungalow. 

Amarante has been like a hug extended in time. It has been like attending a show that was known to be finite, but that was desired to be eternal. For the beauty of nature, the streets and the animals. But above all for the people, for all the people who have converged on that incredible intersection that is Casa de Juventude to teach us that life is full of possibilities, full of fun and ingenuity. And that betting on young people to build a brighter future will always be a success. I can only give thanks for being part of this adventure, which has allowed me to be part of a beautiful community, full of care and meaning. 

Thanks to Amarante, my heart has become a bird.

Laura Cortés Outon – Participant TLN MOBILICAT 2022