Ricardo Soares is Portuguese by birth and a citizen of the world by right, currently based in Cancun, Mexico. He has travelled extensively on his own and lived in several countries. When he is not travelling he works in the tourism industry and spends time with his wife and baby.
This is his story
His first trip was when Ricardo turned 13. His family moved from Nazare in Portugal to Quebec in Canada. Ricardo was meant to stay at home looking after his 10-year-old sister while their parents left to work, but sometimes he simply could not resist the temptation of hopping on the subway to explore the city. Quebec was a great big world filled with skyscrapers and other things that in his little town, Nazaré, were unthinkable.
It fascinated him and he felt euphoric. Young Ricardo never thought of his escapes as being dangerous, not for himself nor for his little sister who stayed behind at home. However, he kept his exploration trips a secret, until the day his parents arrived home and asked him, “What did you do today? And he decided to answer, “I left to explore the city.”
Nine months after, the family returned to Nazare and life went back to normal.
At the age of 15, Ricardo found out he had a flair for football and had the opportunity of playing for Benfica and living in Lisbon. The rush of going to the unknown once more, live in a new culture and meet strangers kicked in. Nonetheless, the normality of this new internal trip hit him soon. He was still in his country and although he was in the capital things were not that different.
Conventionality followed him. At the age of 18, he started dating the woman he would later marry. He finished his degree in Human Resources, bought a house, stayed married for 2 and half years and carried on living within the conventional parameters of society until he turned 32.
A near-death experience shook things up
Ricardo found himself in a hospital bed with diverticulitis – a rare intestinal inflammatory disease among young people. Four months in the hospital under constant treatments and observation facing the possibility of not getting any better or not getting out at all, he felt low, depressed and tired.
On one of those days that was not so different from all the precedent, Ricardo was laying in bed as usual and looked at the potted yellow flowers sitting on the windowsill; the flowers looked so beautiful. The more he looked at them, the more beauty he saw in them. A beauty he had never noticed before. A beauty that prompted him to promise himself that if he got better, if he walked out of the hospital, he would get up and live his passions the way life should be, regulated by love and passion.
With a second chance granted, he started asking his employer for a month off at a time to roam around different countries on his own, but It was not enough. At the time, he was working in Nazare as a Human Resource director, but he did not want that anymore. He wanted to chase the beauty he saw in those yellow flowers that day in the hospital.
The traveller was born again
In January 2010, he quit his job, got divorced and went to Bahia in Brazil, for three months using CouchSurfing to meet people and stay with locals. He returned to Portugal for a month in December, eager for more. Straight away he started planning his next trip and started visiting several countries in Europe.
The same year in August, he had the opportunity of working in Angola where he stayed for three months. He had to work six days a week and only had one day off, but it did not matter. Sundays became his exploration days. And to make Sunday even a better day, he met a good friend called Faustino Maia who quickly became his Sunday exploration buddy.
On the 15th of January 2011, Ricardo moved to Belgium for one year and carried on using his location to explore more European countries. A year later he felt he was ready to quit that job and decided to buy a ticket to Australia using a last minute promotion he had seen online. He even obtained the visa, but it was not meant to be. Two weeks later, Ricardo received an email clarifying that the company had only charged him taxes and they could either give him his money back, or he could pay 50% of the remainder of the total airfare and travel to Australia.
“Follow your dreams, even if your dreams tell you, “You’re crazy.”
On the very same day, Ricardo asked for his money back and searched online for the next cheapest destination available in a different continent. And on the 15th of January 2015, he flew to Cancun, Mexico.
Initially, Ricardo travelled through Central America for three months thinking he would go to Brazil overland. But then a virtual CouchSurfing friend whom he had never met, Sandra Guedes, contacted him to offer him a job in Cancun teaching Portuguese as a Foreign Language. Sandra had been working in Cancun for months and was ready to travel once more. Ricardo, eager to work once more in a different country, decided to backtrack and take on this new leap of faith.
A few months later, Ricardo met his partner Christine in a CouchSurfing gathering. The following year Christine went to Argentina for a few months, and Ricardo decided to travel in South America roaming slowly towards the woman he loved. Shortly after they met, in a mist of love and Argentinian wine, little Sofia happened. Then little Diego came along and joined them too.
Now, this adventurous couple flies across the Ocean and back to make sure their kids experience the best of both worlds and plan trips as a travelling family based in Cancun.