Joao arrived in Mauritania six years ago working as a hotel manager for a Portuguese company. Then, he obtained a contract with the embassy of the United States as caterer.
As Joao says, he is a “self-made man”, he believes that if you are motivated and you love what you do, nothing is impossible. So while working at the embassy, he created his own safe heaven: “La Casa Portuguesa”. From outside it seems to be a normal restaurant, but behind the door is hidden a mini “home-made mall”. A restaurant, a shop, a bed and breakfast, a hairdresser and a massage room. A very quiet spot born from the efforts of a determined man.
“I have made many sacrifices to create this place with my partner, to make guests and myself happy, because that is also important. Patience is my major virtue. I have to admit; daily life in Mauritania is not always easy. It is a very different place from where I grew up and when you are in a foreign country without your family, you feel the differences even more.”
Since he is also a nutritional expert and chef, he started organising workshops on “hygiene and food safety,” as those notions are almost unknown here.
"Sharing information and exchanging cultures is very important. I do not teach only the Portuguese cuisine but also the Asian, the Japanese, the Mediterranean and the African ones and the functioning of bacteria and the basics rules of a healthy nutrition.
At the Casa Portuguesa, food and culture are mixed, as well as the locals and expats. The staff is also a melting pot: two Senegalese, an Ivorian and two Mauritanians are working for us."
Since he arrived in Mauritania, Joao invested his energy and money in for a new life. That might be the secret of a successful migration.