January Diaries

Chapter 1 — The flight.

Mariana Machado
4 min readJan 19, 2024

I’m surrounded by men. This is something I didn’t consider when choosing my first destination. Since I’m meeting my father in Luanda, I really didn’t think about the safety of actually getting there.; and I must admit it was a bit more uncomfortable than I expected.

I was probably the only solo female traveller onboard. There were a few women traveling with families or as a couple, but I was the only one alone (or at least that I saw). For some men reading this, this doesn’t really seems to be a problem — and I agree. I shouldn’t even have to be aware that I was surrounded by men but when you’re a woman, you kind of have to, just in case.

Now, apart from two or three “funny” Portuguese men who tried talking to me but successfully failed, no one really bothered me. The gentleman seating next to me was pretty quiet and just chilled for the entire trip so from when I got in the plane, I was fine. It was just interesting that I felt the most uncomfortable while still in Portugal …

Anyway, I’ve landed in Luanda. Passport control and baggage claim went well, and my dad was waiting for me so everything was perfect and I’m ready to explore.

P.s — if you’re not a fan of turbulence in planes, probably skip this destination as the trip was pretty bumpy.

Chapter 2: Cabo Ledo

Before heading to Cabo Ledo, we woke up and went to the supermarket to make sure we had ingredients to make breakfast. We’re staying next to a gas station in a small, yet super cute house.

The days are spent at the beach. We go to Queiroz Point, a sea-side restaurant that serves great food and has amazing people working there. Everything is very well organized, clean and also simple. No big luxuries, just plain plastic tables and chairs, great food and a view that’s incomparable.
We visit the surfers beach. It’s almost deserted, which gives it an even more beautiful feel as we’re only surrounded by nature and our concerns magically disappear.

Around here, clocks go slower. There’s time for swimming, eating, drinking cocktails, getting massages, perfect out Power Nap skills and just relax. I will miss this place. I will miss these people.

Chapter 3: Luanda

It’s been 11 years since I’ve been here. Things have changed and I’m happy to say that many, if not most things, changed for the better.
My days in Luanda are spent working. I’m lucky to work remotely so even thousands of kms away from home, I spend my days in well-known places such as Google Meet, Slack, Figma and Slides.

The heat is almost unbearable. At home we have the AC on but as soon as we’re outside, we are hit by the incredible warmth.
Photos don’t make justice of how hot it is; nor of the city’s life. The food is amazing, music is exciting and you see lots of smiles on people’s faces.

I visit my father’s factory. I see some familiar faces I met when I was here in 2012. Everyone is nice to me and look at me as if I don’t belong. And maybe they’re right.

Did I mention the food is amazing?

Chapter 4: Cape Town

I’ve been told wonderful things about Cape Town. Everyone I met who’s visited has loved it and told me I would love it. In fact, even in Luanda everyone told me it was amazing so it’s safe to say expectations were high. Well, it did not disappoint.

In 2023 I was in Namibia and fell in love with the country. I had only experienced Angola so I was very curious about seeing how Cape Town compares to both of them.

People here are super nice, beautiful and welcoming. Whoever we met, be it in a restaurant, museum or at the seaside, welcomed us with a smile. The nature surrounding the city is magnificent — from Table Mountain, to Lion’s Head to the Cape of Good Hope — it makes you realize how small you are.

Now, this of course is not a perfect city. Just like every other place, it has some problems. Some of those are more visible than others, but in the end, the positives outweighed the negatives.

I hope to be back in South Africa again soon. Oh and i couldn’t forget mentioning: food here is also amazing.

Chapter 5: Going home

I spend a last day of this trip in Luanda before heading back to Portugal. I visit my father’s factory again, say goodbye to old acquaintances and tell the new ones I’ll be back. I genuinely hope I will.

I’m so happy I decided on coming here to kickstart 2024. I discovered a new Luanda, with the same kind people and lots yet to be done. I got to visit a different country, where I discovered new cultures and perspectives.

As I write this sitting on a plane, 12 thousand meters above the ground, I feel super grateful. Grateful that my father offered me this trip, grateful for the things I’ve learned in just 16 days and grateful that the year is just getting started and I’ve got so many more adventures ahead.



Mariana Machado

I used to dream about becoming a poet and I’ve always loved writing, so I made it my job.