Home Is Everywhere
Мaria Radoslavova is many things: an artist, a designer, a photographer, a professional diving instructor. Her last stop and current home is Thailand.
Sofia, High School of Applied Arts, Art Academy and your punk rocker friends; then conservative North Dakota, followed by immigration-friendly Canada and professional diving. How did all these changes affect you?
They refined me, opened new horizons, broadened my perspective and even helped me get rid of some prejudice. Changing your environment and activities helps you to not languish, to be grounded and not get caught in your own bubble of how great and unique you are. I hope I will never stop changing. Like everything else, it comes at a price and has a negative side. When you are not consistent and not working towards one goal, you don’t harvest the fruits of your labor and talent. You are on to the next challenge, just when you’ve coped with the previous one, and when you have the chance for some recognition and a more peaceful and safe life. In moments like these, my motivation for a new challenge is bigger than the desire for security and comfort. And so I start again.
Tell us about all your travels.
In brief — I have lived in the States, Canada, Mexico, the Seychelles, and now I’ve been in Thailand for a year.
I could not possibly tell you about all of my travels, as this is an interview, not travel notes. As a whole, I have visited approximately 60 countries.
How do you manage to travel so much? Most people аre limited either financially or because of prejudice.
In all my travels, I have used an all-inclusive package just once. Most people feel insecure when they travel to an exotic and far-off destination, and maybe that’s why they tend to choose such packages. But they are not the best option, especially if you are interested in nature and sports.
Of course, this is not an option for people who want to drink cocktails by the pool or bring their children — organized vacations suit them better.
I believe people are too afraid of political situations — take the Egyptian Revolution, for example, during which a lot of people cancelled their trips. We have to keep in mind that such nations rely entirely on tourism and people treat tourists as if they were their own children. I visited Egypt at exactly that time, and I had a great vacation, also Honduras and Sudan when they were in a state of war. For people like me, these situations may even be an advantage, but they are not for everyone.
Walk us through the whole process of finding and booking spots and tickets. What advice would you give to someone, who is planning a far-off trip?
I don’t usually make any accommodation bookings. I count on them for one or two nights only (I usually use agoda.com or booking.com), which gives me the chance to explore everything on the spot. So far, I have always managed to find a nice hotel within my budget, even during the high season. This is also something specific about my traveling; I tend to avoid the high season. I mainly visit tropical countries and they have either dry or wet season. Тhe wet (or so called green) season is low because people prefer the weather to be sunny and dry, which is totally understandable. The truth is that you will rarely have continuous rain for days during the green season. The rain is refreshing, and the rates are lower, but this requires a longer stay — you need to be sure you will get nice weather too. Again, if you travel with children or only for a week, this might not be the best option.
Your life is interesting and somehow unpredictable. Do you make spontaneous decisions and what motivates you to change the course?
I guess the things I have done may look a little chaotic. As you said — Sofia, punk, art, diving, travelling. From my perspective, everything is logical and follows some order. The big jumps, as well as my hunger for new experiences and things to do, appeared later in my life, when I was 33 years old, just divorced but with no children, and living in Canada. They only thing I had was a good job — I was designing clothes for Cirque de Soleil.
I was basically thinking this: “alone, with no children, at the other end of the world.” Not so nice. So I evaluated the situation and my opportunities and decided to focus on the positive. When you are alone, you have the freedom to do whatever you want — so I had to ask myself what is it that I want. I wanted to travel, to overcome my fear of water, to be excited and amazed by new things, just as a little child. This is how I started travelling and diving; I found out what a drug constant change can be, I felt the pleasure of seeing, learning and understanding the new. According to me, this decision was indeed logical and not spontaneous. I just figured out how to change my life for the better.
You have worked in the Seychelles, tell us about the professional environment there. Is it possible for such a paradise to be a workplacе?
The work week in the Seychelles is 6 days long, not 5, and the annual leave is short. But just going to your office means you pass by some of the most beautiful places in the world. The aesthetics of the environment I live in are pretty important for me. Everyday beauty makes me feel good and happy. As for how suitable this place is for working: if you are an advertising manager in a telecommunications company, such as I was, it can be very suitable, even too much of a workplace.
You currently reside in Thailand. Where have you lived for the longest time and where do you feel at home — or is that everywhere?
I’ve spent the most time in Canada — 6 years, and I am proud of my Canadian passport. I feel at home nowhere and everywhere, including in Bulgaria, which is changing fast enough to surprise me every time I come back.
Who is the most interesting person you have met?
As I am thinking over my answer, I realize how lucky I am to be constantly meeting really interesting people. I can not choose just one, as they are many. The last one I met is from Thailand, born on a small island with a population of less than 3000 people. He worked on a fishing boat as a child, then as a climbing instructor, and now he designs kitchens in Switzerland for a big company. I like people with versatile potential and talent, people with an interesting life path.
Artist, designer, underwater photographer, professional diving instructor, skier, what else?
Тhis is enough for now. Actually, it is not. I am trying to come up with a children’s book at the moment. And someday, when I am old, I want to build the most amazing old people’s home at the most amazing place, where my friends and I will live together. To clatter with our walking sticks and rattle the ice in our gin tonic, kitsch beautiful sunsets behind us, and someone will say: “Remember when…”
How does a typical day look for you?
Differently. I follow no routine, except for the fact that I do not do anything before breakfast.
The children’s book that I mentioned. Тhe story is already finished and approved by the publisher. It is about a giant turtle, which are abundant in the Seychelles. Аnd that is where it is going to be published: no children’s book has ever been published there before. Everything they have up to this moment is translated or reprinted but never written for them and their culture.
How come that they don’t have even one published children’s book?
Маybe because their culture is quite young. Not many people know that they don’t even have an indigenous population — the first settlers date from the 17th-18th century. Before that the Seychelles had neither history nor culture. Тheir first university was founded in 2009 while the first European university was established in 1088 in Bologna. They don’t even have a theater or an opera. These facts may be hard to swallow for people like us, who have never lived in such a place and who come from areas with a way richer cultural life. I am just trying to give some realistic perspective about the state of culture in a country like this.
How do you see yourself in 10 years?
Active and smiling, I hope.
And how do you see the world in 10 years?
As a whole, I am not too optimistic. I believe that humanity is surely walking towards self-destruction. Slowly enough, so we don’t see it, as we never look around ourselves and not around us. I don’t think that things will be different in 10 years. We will have some small victories along the way — inventions, scientific breakthroughs, social and political changes— that will draw away attention from the most important issues: that we are losing our intuition, eating all our food, drinking all of our water and becoming stupid because everything is happening too easy.
If you could turn back time, what would you do differently?
I would spend more time with my late mother.