An interesting chemistry of emotions occurs when you dive into the unknown. For us, this experience is a mixture of fear, faith, calm, and excitement. 2018 marked an important year for Monos. From its inception and successfully launching our Kickstarter to shooting our first campaign abroad, each milestone was an expedition through uncertainty. It produced a unique kind of discomfort that we've come to recognize as a precursor to growth and one that we've learned to lean into fully.
To put our suitcases to the test, we took a whirlwind trip across three countries to shoot our first campaign. Our team consisted of photographer Santiago de Hoyos, videographer Aaron Garcia, talent Gustavo Romano and Tarla Barbosa, and photographer Zé Pedro Alvarez—all of whom would meet for the first time. What began simply as a collaborative project transformed into something much more meaningful.
As we explored unfamiliar territories, stood in awe of natural wonders, and humbly learnt from locals who extended a warmth and hospitality beyond compare, we discovered the heart and soul of Monos. We came to understand that travelling mindfully—respecting the places and cultures we were observing—connected us deeper to the world around us. A lesson we are forever grateful for.
We began our journey in Lisbon, a city that immediately draws you in for its relaxed charm. Bright yellow, vintage trams clattered up hilly streets lined with colourful shops. Trailing flora adorned balconies while drying laundry flapped on clotheslines between them. Warm laughter and clinking glasses beckoned to us from every lively petisqueira (a bar serving small Portuguese plates known as petiscos) we passed. Melancholic notes of fado (a traditional Portuguese musical style) echoed around each corner. There seemed to be something magical everywhere we went. It was an idyllic setting to introduce ourselves to one another and start this journey together.
No doubt the most authentic way to experience a new place is through the guidance of a seasoned local. We were lucky to have photographer and expert guide Zé Pedro Alvarez show us his native stomping grounds. In a beautifully restored Land Rover Defender 90, he took us off the beaten track through the rugged and majestic coast of Algarve.
We drove along the sea-carved cliffs of Sagres. Chased sunrise after sunset with a sense of freedom and purpose. And lost ourselves in speechless wonder as we stood before the commanding blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean atop a vast, wind-whipped fortress. In the evenings, we gathered around a simple and delicious meal prepared with care by our host as we exchanged stories and laughter, and cherished the spirit of adventure that ignited from the day’s exploration.
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware of.”
– Martin Buber