Who is Worldwide Macató?

Paulo Abreu

The boarding gate call made me feel butterflies in my stomach. Like when you see the girl you’re falling in love with. This is real and happening right now, I thought. I was about to start my Worldwide Macató adventures.

The alarm clock wakes me up at 7:45 AM every weekday. I get up, brush my teeth, take a shower and have breakfast. My car leaves the garage at around 8:45h. At 9 am I’m sitting at my desk at the office. It’s 6 PM, time to leave the office.

What happened between 9 AM and 6 PM? The usual 8 hours of my life spent on somebody else’s dream, helping rich shareholders make more money. After a while, I felt like a replaceable qualified number. The meaning of it all started to fade away until there was no meaning at all.

It wasn’t as boring as it sounds and it was my choice. You see, I never work for a paycheck. If I find an interesting project that I can add something to and get something back, count me in. This relationship ends when either I stop learning or I have nothing more to give that could add value.
If I’m going to spend 8 hours of my precious day working, it has to be meaningful. This is a goal I set myself on every project I work on. I’ve never asked for a pay raise. If my value is not recognized, I move on. I am privileged because I can define my own work ethics.

My parents weren’t so lucky. They didn’t have the opportunities they gave me. When they were young, going to university was for the rich people. It was an inconceivable dream. They couldn’t even complete elementary school and started working at a young age. After getting married and having me, they left the country. They took the risk of looking for better conditions so my siblings and myself could have a better life.

Hard work was the key ingredient that made sure I had choices. From a very young age, my parents gave me a choice. If I studied hard, they would support me going to university. I could then try and make something of my life. The other option would be to find a job and work hard like they did. I chose the first option.

All that investment and hard work paid off. A Masters degree in IT engineering from one of the best engineering schools in Portugal. After a few smaller projects, I landed a good job as IT Manager for a multi-national company. It kept me going for a while, but something was missing and I needed to find out what.

I knew I loved traveling. Every chance I had I would get on a plane and leave the island. Madeira Island is my beautiful home. Sometimes it feels claustrophobic and I need to breath fresh air.

Short vacations weren’t enough. I needed time to go to the other side of the world. My dream started to take shape. I spent countless hours boring my closest friends with my travel ideas. Every time we went out for a drink I would talk about all the places I would love to see. I don’t think they believed I would do it. Don’t think I believed I would do it; there was so much at stake. What would happen to all the hard work I invested in making a decent career? What would my parents think?

I couldn’t shake the feeling. Could it be something built into my wiring? My parents felt the need to leave and look for a better life so I lived in London as a child. I lived in Lisbon during my university years. A few years back I lived in San Francisco for a year and it was an amazing experience.

Getting closer to my forties played a major role in my decision. It was now or never. The thought of leaving things for retirement never made any sense to me. How could I leave something I desired so much to a time of my life I wasn’t even sure I would be alive? Would I have the energy, the physical and mental conditions for the adventures?

I saved enough money to go to the places I dreamt about. Then came the day I decided to put everything I had worked for in a drawer. Paulo Abreu started the transformation into Worldwide Macató.

Macató is my father’s family name. For a series of silly reasons, my parents decided not to pass that name to their children. Sometimes it works out that a word is stronger than any will or reason. Macató has always fascinated me, my brother and my sister. The choice of Macató to name my travel project was my homage to my parents. It was also a way to attenuate in some form, the impact my decision would have on them. No matter how old you are, your parent’s opinion of you is important.

It came as a surprise that everybody I love gave me full support and encouraged me. I will never know what they thought about my crazy idea, but all shared my enthusiasm in their own way. I only told my parents a few weeks before leaving and that didn’t give them enough time to try to talk me out of it. I have always lived my life my way and made my own choices, facing the consequences. This helped everyone relax, thinking, “He knows what he’s doing”. The truth is, I didn’t.

I took a leap of faith, something I had never done before. That was the thing missing in my life. I felt tired of playing safe and following a script. In my career I took several controlled risks, but nothing with this significance. I was smashing my comfort zone!

Worldwide Macató - Paulo Abreu

This is how my Worldwide Macató travel project was born. It was the best decision of my life and I want to share my worldwide travel stories and experiences with you. I wish to inspire and show you that anyone can do it. There are no special skills required and you don’t have to be rich. It’s an amazing learning experience but it’s not without risk. Worldwide Macató transformed Paulo Abreu into a different version of himself. I have no doubts the new version is better.