Welcome to another week of GibLad’s series on Llanitos Abroad series and thanks for reading.
This week we catch up with Wallace Toughill, who’s been away for a fairly long time; what started as a 2 month teaching trip to India was to turn into an incredible journey lasting years, across SE Asia to Australia, New Zealand back through Europe and finally settling on the West of the Iberian Peninsular – in beautiful Portugal. Let’s hear what he’s been up to.
GL: Why did you leave Gib?
I left Gib to do 2 months of voluntary work teaching English in India. I guess I was driven by a desire to see the world and (not to sound pretentious) try to make a positive impact on her. I never really intended ‘leaving’ Gib. My original plan was to stay in India for around 4 months, then head back to Gibraltar slowly stopping off here and there. A total of 6 months or so, away from Gib. However, I ended up falling in love with not only India but also the travelling life-style. So after 6 months in India I carried on travelling East and haven’t been based in Gib since. This is coming on 10 years ago now.
GL: So where have you been since you’ve been away?
Well when I first left Gib I spent 6 months in India. The first 2 months were spent doing voluntary work teaching English. The other 4 I spent backpacking around. I actually spent a lot of these 4 months travelling with best friends from back home. You know who you are! I then spent a year in Australia backpacking up the east coast and working in the Kakadu National Park in the northern territories. I managed to travel quite a bit around Australia, but also needed to work quite a bit to be able to save up and carry on travelling. I worked all kinds of backpacker jobs, anything I could get my hands on really. I was the night manager in a hostel, I worked in several cafes and bars, I was in the gardening /maintenance team in a resort and worked in a kick ass banana farm near Cairns.
After Australia I spent a few nights in Taiwan, then flew to Hong Kong (where I was actually born, but left when I was 6) for a few weeks , then spent 3 months in China travelling and working down south as an English teacher. After that I headed into South East Asia; Loas, Cambodia, Thailand and Malayasia, before heading over to Christchurch, New Zealand where I lived for 3-4 months.
By this point I had been away from Europe for over 2 years and decided to fly back to Gib for new years 2010. I then decided to move to Denmark, to be with my girlfriend at the time, and lived in Copenhagen.
I was there for nearly 2 years, working in a hard rock cafe and studying social work through the open uni. After my social work course had finished I decided to quit my job and cycle from Copenhagen to Gib, inspired by one of my best friends who spent 18 months cycling from northern France to Singapore. He actually cycled with me until Frankfurt. After the trip I went back to Copenhagen, but not for long, as me and my girlfriend at the time decided it was best we break up, so I headed to Portugal to do a course in Permaculture design.
After doing the course I quickly decided that Permaculture was what I wanted to do with my life. I also fell in love with Portugal itself, so I decided to stay in Portugal and dedicate my time to Permaculture.
This was back in 2012 and I’m still today based in Portugal (Serra da Estrella to be precise) setting up a Permaculture farm with friends and teaching Permaculture courses. If you’d like to know more, you can learn more about what permaculture is by checking out the links at the end of this article.
GL: What do you Miss?
Most of all friends and family. But tons of other stuff like my Mum’s cooking (that’s a big one), being able to see the sea every day, the weather, picadilly, snake-bites and going for walks up the Rock. I also miss Gib’s “homeliness” ( I’m not totally sure that’s the word I’m looking for, but I’ll go with it). Like when you meet people you’ve known for years on the street. Seeing local characters around town. Speaking “llanito con lo colega”. Oh yer, and the cheese naan with korma sauce from Muntaz, which I didn’t freakin get the last time I was in Gib!
GL: What has been the hardest to adjust to?
Probably not being close to my friends and family on a daily basis. Also, the weather. Having been brought up in Gibraltar I’ve found it hard to adjust to anything else than a Mediterranean climate. And the lack of cocktail sauce in takeaways outside of Gibraltar. It gets annoying having to ask for both ketchup and mayonnaise, and it’s never quite the same.
GL: What are the most notable cultural differences?
Well one thing I appreciate most about Gibraltar is it’s ethical and cultural inclusiveness. Gibraltar, in my view, is somewhat of a “shining example” of people from all major world religions living in peace and harmony. My Dad once told me a story of being down main street and seeing a Jewish woman being helped carry a pram up a small flight of stairs by a Muslim man on one side and a Hindu man on the other. This is probably a scene that most Gibraltarians would view as totally normal, they probably wouldn’t think twice upon seeing it, which is awesome. But the truth is that, in my opinion at least, most countries I’ve been to display far more ethnical and religious segregation than seen in Gibraltar.
GL: What is the best thing about being a llanito abroad?
Probably the possibility of randomly meeting other llanito’s abroad. It’s happened to me three times. My favourite is when I walked into a camping shop in Brisbane, Australia and heard from the other side of the shop something along the lines of “illo…ese tienda no vale na man!” I automatically cottoned on, walked over and found three Gibraltarians, two of which were mates. We ended up buying the same kind of tent.
GL: What has been your proudest achievement since your move?
I can’t really think of one specific achievement I’m most proud of. I consider myself pretty lucky to have worked and lived in many different countries and learnt a fair bit about many different cultures. I once cycled from Copenhagen to Gibraltar, only God knows how…and why. Being met at the frontier by a whole group of friends and family after nearly 2 months on the road made me feel pretty good.
After doing the course I quickly decided that Permaculture was what I wanted to do with my life.
GL: What are your goals for the year?
To carry on developing my homestead farm in Portugal and to teach as many people as I can about Permaculture.
GL: Do you ever see yourself coming back to Gibraltar?
I’ve learnt the hard way to never say never. So I won’t!
GL: What would you say to any Giblads / llanitos who are thinking of making a move abroad to travel or chase a dream or experience something new?
I would totally recommend travelling to anyone, period. There is so much to see out there, so much to experience and learn – it would crazy not to. And of course, if someone has a dream that they feel can’t be achieved in Gib I would always suggest they follow that dream. In the wise words of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, ” it’s better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do”.
GL: For those that don’t, I didn’t know what Permaculture was either. If you’d like to learn more about Permaculture, click/tap on the bold links below links:
Permaventurer (Wallay’s Permaculture facebook page).
Are you a Llanito abroad or travelling or do you know someone that we should hear about? To get GibLad to feature you or your friend and get involved e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org!