The passion of the globetrotter reaches 51 countries
The passion of the globetrotter reaches 51 countries
After attending the canonization of Mother Teresa at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, the 100th anniversary of the apparition in Fatima, Portugal and the canonization of Goa, St Joseph Vaz in Sri Lanka, architect Neville Monteiro completed his mission to visit 51 countries before turning 50. He shares his passion for travel and how it broadens the perspective of someone traveling the world
As Panjim-based Neville Monteiro turns 50 today, he is delighted to have achieved the goal he set for himself nearly 30 years ago. As a young student, he promised himself to travel and experience the culture of 50 countries before he turned 50 and with San Marino as the 51st country, he is ready to celebrate his 50th birthday today, the 25th october. “I promised myself that I would definitely visit 50 countries before shooting the same one this month (October 25), so I took it a step further and did 51. This accomplishment gave me joy and immense satisfaction, no words can describe it,” says Neville Monteiro.
An architect by profession, Neville is always ready to travel. He realized his passion for travel when he first undertook a month-long visit to the Far Eastern Portuguese dependency of Macau for a summer course at the University of Macau in Taipa in 1996. “The sincere desire to experience firsthand the incredibly diverse cultures of our very beautiful world coupled with the desire to see both natural and man-made creations were the main factors that inspired me to continue to travel,” says Neville on what motivates him to travel.
Each country has something unique to offer, with its climate, its monuments and above all its culture. Within a year, he travels twice, once in May with the family, consisting of his wife Selma and two sons, Stefan and Ian, and during Ganesh’s vacation with a group of like-minded friends. “Although I started traveling in 1996, the two people who had a profound and significant impact on my trip were Paul Sequeira (Zion Tours and Travels) and Xavier Peres (Speedbird Travels), who introduced me to countries that I would have never set out to visit on my own,” says Neville.
He also attended historic events in the religious calendar. He had the privilege of attending the canonization of Mother Teresa at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City on September 4, 2016 as part of the Indian Representation, made possible by Paul Sequeira (Zion Tours and Travels) and the 100th anniversary of the apparition in Fatima, Portugal which also coincided with the canonization of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, May 13, 2017. He was also in Sri Lanka during the canonization of St Joseph Vaz of Goa in January 2015. Land, was a rich and rewarding experience,” he adds.
Before every travel plan comes the research to form the itinerary for the new country but nothing compares to the real life experience in the visiting country. He says: “Before embarking on the visit, I Google to see what the country in question has to offer, so that I don’t miss any important places. During my first trips, I used to read pretty much the same thing, but the process was a bit cumbersome and time-consuming. The advent of the internet changed everything. I try to attend a cultural show showcasing their tradition if possible, in addition to the normal sightseeing that every visitor undertakes.
He always tries to bring back a souvenir from each country, something unique to that country and in most cases it’s a fridge magnet. Exciting moments of his travels include visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, home to giant tortoises and iguanas, as well as the equator near the capital, Quito. He shares: “The aerial view of the majestic Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border is indeed breathtaking, as are the powerful winds at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, where Vasco da Gama shot and discovered the sea route to India. The experience of staying at the Masai Mara sanctuary with the family in Kenya right in the middle of the wildlife habitat and safari, in addition to the exotic birds and hippos of Lake Naivasha is a memory to cherish forever. A lifelong dream of visiting the oldest republic in the world, San Marino, in addition to many other travel experiences, was made possible by Xavier Peres. The beauty of the landscapes of Switzerland and the magnificent windmills and tulips of the Netherlands are memories that will always remain engraved in the memory.
However, his favorite country was Malta as he says it had a great vibe and the friendly nature of the locals adds to the same. Also, has a lot to offer in terms of history and culture. His plan for next summer is to visit Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland. “My next goal is to make it a total of 100 countries over the next decade. I would advise everyone to see the world. If you can’t go overseas, go see our own country. In fact , I’m going to celebrate my 50th birthday with my family in God’s country, Kerala. That’s how I wanted it to be,” Neville says.
Traveling to many countries certainly broadened Neville’s perspective. But what aspect would he like to see introduced in Goa? “What I have observed in my travels is the strict respect of local laws by residents and visitors alike, without any supervision. Basic things like using trash cans efficiently and not spitting in public places can go a long way toward ensuring public cleanliness in our country. There must be good, clean public toilets at strategic locations with a nominal fee. We have to start and now is the time. Better late than never,” concludes Neville.