Maria’s office: the world!

I’ve met Maria in one of the Advertising Agencies I worked some years ago and we have at least one thing in common: the passion for traveling. Maria is one of the luckiest people I know: most of her traveling is part of her job. Working as a advertising consultant/international sales rep, Maria goes wherever she is sent to and always makes the most of the destination she gets! I follow Maria’s adventures on her blog (Portuguese only) where she writes and shows pictures about the places and people she meets along the way. Currently in Brazil, she’s always ready for the next destination, wherever that is.

maria1Rita: I bet many people tell you how lucky you are to be able to travel as part as your job. Was it something you always looked for or it sort of just happened? How do you see your job?

Maria: Yes, definitely people always tell me that, and I feel blessed that is that way… but I would not call it “luck”. I do it because I fought for it and looked for a job with those characteristics. The truth is: if you want something, you should chase it! And i really live life that way! (And lets face it…people always think “the chicken of the neighbour is better than mine”, as we say in portuguese, hehe). I love my job! I get to go to many places and meet the most amazing people you would not expect to meet. Just 2 months ago I met with the president of Namibia, 4 months ago I met Psquare (you might not know him, but i realized he was a big hit in many places, although i didnt know it either). I met many ministers of other countries and top knotch guys. This is also very interesting because you manage to know the country from its people’s point of view.

R: Tell me about the places you’ve been to. What are your favorite destinations so far?

M: I have always travelled a lot, but in these last 7 months I have been in Brazil (twice), Germany, Spain, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Namibia. And from all the places I have been throughout my life, I think my favorite one was Mozambique (and Rome in Europe). Nevertheless, I believe that a place is better or worse depending on what you did there, the circumstances and the people you were with, so I don’t think it’s fair to compare them. I lived 6 months both in Mozambique and Rome, and with people I love very much. In Mozambique I worked as a volunteer and had much time to take pictures to people and be very close to them. This is the best formula to love a country, in my opinion.

maria5R: And can you point out your favorite adventures around the world?

M: The ones I like the most are the ones that I do without any money and without a concrete plan, because the most unexpected happens. I hitchhiked on the coast of Mozambique with 4 friends (all girls) and we met wonderful people who gave us food and beds. And we ended up going to some places we did not imagine and make friends out of the blue. Or in Austria, when I slept on the street with 3 friends (all girls) and we met this crazy man who hadn’t showered for 6 months (he said so). He took us to a scary place at 3 AM. (Back then we were really scared, but now I have many stories to tell).

Nonetheless, when I was in Australia I was also broke and I ended up missing much of the great touristic places, which seemed to be amazing (and I don’t advise anyone to do this way in there).

R: It appears to me that one of the advantages of your job is to be able to follow the road least traveled when in a foreign country, and not only visit those big “touristy” places. Also, you can see that new place you’re in from a local’s point of view. What were the best surprises a place has offered you, so far?

M: I never travel with expectations, I just go, so everything for me is a great surprise (obviously I miss some great places sometimes as well, just because I didn’t plan)…I loved Namibia, for example. I had no idea that it was such a fantastic country. The desert (which I ended up going in the only day of the year that the rain decided to come) was amazing. I was camping there..imagine how it ended up! But we had much fun, going in the minivan to take shots in desert roads. And one of the days we saw the sun rising at the dune.

Or in Brazil, when I went to this house of a friend. I thought I was just going to a regular house, but when I arrived…I could not believe: the best view ever! The sea and the palm trees. But as I said, everything is great for me because I just don’t plan.

Of course that the fact that I end up living in all of these places for quite some time, I see more of the culture and people..and that is the best of traveling (great views, you can always see it in pictures).

maria3R: Do you have time off during your work trips or only the usual weekends off? How do you make the most of your time when abroad?
M: Only weekends and holidays…so it is not as fantastic as it seems sometimes! But you can do a lot on weekends, which I always use to travel and see what there is around. 2 weekends ago I went to Rio, for example. This one I went to the mountains in Espírito Santo. Always a great time!

R: I also happen to know you love food! :) Where in the world did you have your best meals?

M: Saying I love food is outrageous for the people who know me. Haha. I love food that is tasty (I called an hamburger at McDonalds tasty, ok?), not gourmet stuff, so I hope no one follows my advice on this. Nevertheless, I had FANTASTIC steaks in Namibia. Game meet: oryx is amazing and so is zebra’s. You should not miss it at Joe’s Beer house if you ever go to Windhoek. Besides that, I love feijoada in Brazil (and brigadeiro). Curry in Mozambique is also to die for (and crab at Cristal, in Maputo is very good). Well, in fact, sea food in Mozambique is definitely one of the best I have ever eaten (I had to eat a lot because we didn’t have any money and lobster and prawns were the cheapest we could find).

R: At the moment you’re in Brazil. Where exactly and for how long are you staying? How are you spending your free time?

M: At the moment I am in Vitoria, Espírito Santo, but I spent already a month in Brazilia and I might go to Amazonas State this week still. But I am not sure the “how long nor the where parts” (one of the things with this job is that I never know when or where to go). In the mean time I had weekends off where I went to Angra dos Reis, Juquehy, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. I can say that I have been having a very good time!

maria4R: Have you ever felt you were in danger, of any kind? If so, where?

M: Well, that time in Austria we were scared. It was too dark, no one on the streets and the place was creepy (just like in a horror movie). I had a big knife (that I used to carry around just in case), and when the guy came to us the second time I had to show it so he would leave. It was quite bad. The second time I was scared was this year, when I was alone, in Rio de Janeiro, next to a Favela, at 9 PM with my camera, my iphone and money. At some point, a guy said I could not be there alone and that he would give me a ride home. I said “ok” (what else?..didnt really have any other option) and when we were at the favela…the car stopped. And I froze, since it was very dangerous and I had no idea who was the guy giving me a ride. We ran out of gas. But everything turned out to be ok and he left me home later on.

R: One thing about traveling is that sooner or later we have to overcome some sort of fear… Has it happen to you?

M: I never thought about it. If I was scared, I would just put on a brave face and think: “out of here is going to come a great story”. And it did, indeed.

maria7R: If you could choose your next move, where would you go and why?

M: You might kill me, but right now I would choose Portugal, for some time. Or at least a place where I would have a home/house. I love to travel, but sometimes I need to come back and refill my energy. For the last 7 months I haven’t settle for more than 2 months in the same place. It is amazing, but there is also a downside of it.

R: Do you know already where are you going next? If so, what are you looking forward the most?

M: I don’t know where I am going next. The last time, just so you understand how this works, I knew on a Wednesday afternoon that I was leaving to Brazil the next day, in the morning (and I was in Namibia). It’s weird, but very exciting as well!

R: One word of advice for a first time traveler who is willing to travel the world but a bit afraid of taking the first step.

M: The hardest part is the first flight. So dare to do it and you won’t stop after! (But enjoy the trip, don’t be looking at your gadgets the whole time, you should be with your mind where your body is).



R: What are the best and worst parts of living constantly out of a suitcase?

M: The best parts are definitely meeting new people, new places, sharing cultures and returning home with many stories (for me this is the most amazing part!). The worst parts are that I have been living in a hotel, so I don’t have a kitchen, the food I eat is not the best one most of the time and I rarely unpack, because I will be moving right away (besides being always away from my friends and family).

But you always have good and bad things in everything you do, so I just enjoy the good ones, and make the best of it!


Thank you Maria :)

If you’re a portuguese speaker, do read Maria’s stories around the world:


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