Since I went from the user to the provider side of tourism, I realized tourism brings out the nicer side of people, when they are relaxed and ready to enjoy what you offer them: tourists are potentially happy people. If there is some tourism in a place, it means that there is an interest in maintaining the beauty of the region and its identity. Here we have a protected area, but there wasn’t an organized means of enjoying this landscape without being harmful to nature, and Rota Vicentina has now made this possible. I have become even closer to this region with Rota, and it has taught me that walking is like an active meditation: it relaxes and fulfills you. It is a project which brings the region together in a nice way, it is difficult to map all those small things which happen across the region, and Rota is a connection between all of them.

I come originally from Lisbon, I grew up as a city girl. I started coming here for holidays with my family in my teens, and I fell in love with this region. I studied media, journalism and cultural studies in Lisbon and marketing in the UK, and I worked mainly in companies within the marketing and communication area. I started to realize that I was not believing in what I was doing as a job, I couldn’t see myself working at a multinational company for others for the rest of my life. I started to change my life and to work for myself, I made a trip to South America on my own, which was an unusual thing for others at that time but it turned out to be a life-changing experience for me, it made me see how I wanted to spend my days, all the things I could do with my time in order to spend it in a way I enjoy. During this process I started setting up a business in the Alentejo and to change my life from the city to the countryside. Since making this change I can say I am a much more down-to-earth person, more grounded and connected to nature. Through nature I’ve even found a spiritual side of me which I didn’t know about before. Here we have not only the physical, but the mental and emotional space as well, which made me into a person who thinks and feels more, who is more connected with the world and with other people, and I have even found love here.

Travelling allows me to return with a richer perspective of the world, it makes me more flexible, empathetic and generous towards other people. During my trip in South America, apart from all the beauties and interests which I discovered there, the thing which mattered the most was the inner journey: to be by myself, to make my own decisions and to become more confident.

During my last five years in Lisbon before moving to the Southwest, besides my job I was building a guesthouse from scratch on a little farm in the Alentejo. I planted all the vegetables which you find there now, I grew a pine forest, I created a fruit garden and organized different activities, such as yoga, photography and standup paddleboarding sessions. Through Cerca do Sul guesthouse I found Rota Vicentina, the meaning of being in and the work of the association itself. Since saying goodbye to Cerca do Sul last spring, I have had some other ideas, and in the meanwhile I got this opportunity to help Rota Vicentina in the communication area, replacing Marta Curto while she is on maternity leave. Having a part-time job is perfect for me, because I do a ceramic course in Lisbon and I also have other projects to develop: I would like to have a small tourism investment, and a space where I can mix gastronomy, culture and crafts.

Sara Serrão

The photos were taken on Malhão beach.

One thought on “connection

  1. Hi Sara,
    I am going to walk Rota Vicentina since April 19, starting from Santiago Do Cacem… I am enchanted of this route…
    I only worry about my shape ( am an elder lady)…
    May be we will meet overthere?
    Wish you all the best and let the dreams come true !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *