Everyone I’ve met in Mexico during my trip so far and shared my story with responded by saying, “eres valiente,” which means “you are brave” in Spanish. Ironically, they don’t realize that every time I hear that phrase, I feel less and less courageous. It’s curious how such an empowering and positive word can sometimes have a negative impact on us. I believe it’s because when I made the decision for my entire “quit job to travel” plan, I truly felt that I had no other choice. It was a ‘now-or-never’ moment. As it turns out, the ‘now or never’ moment frightened me enough to take that step towards doing something. So, here I am… but let’s start from the beginning, all the way from Aya Mana…
Where I started…
I worked as a software engineer for Goldman Sachs in London, UK, a huge investment bank. I spent 6 years working there, straight after university. And while I’m grateful for the valuable experience and skills I learnt on the job, all the amazing people I met and all the friends I made FOR LIFE, I couldn’t help but feel like an 80-year old lady towards the end… stuck between work and home, not having enough energy to see anybody and feeling miserable in rainy London. And although I was contemplating the whole quit job to travel idea for a while, I always seemed to find an excuse. But after much back and forth, tons of excuses and being scared of taking risks for months, I finally hit the “Send” button!
My passion for making women’s clothes started during the lockdown when I got my first sewing machine. I used to spend every weekend sewing and creating new outfits without getting out of my chair, even staying in my pajamas!! About a year ago, I kicked off my clothing brand, Aya Mana. At first, I just wanted to make office wear that wasn’t the usual black, white, or beige. It was absolutely NOT against the rules to wear colors at my workplace, even though I worked on the trading floor right next to the Senior Partners’ offices, so I went for it. Long story short, I’ve since branched out to offer different types of clothes for various occasions, all still with vibrant colors and patterns.
However, I was doing this on the side of my full time job. And therefore, I was never able to dive into it fully and pursue it with full focus, which is what I truly wanted to do! But I felt lucky to know what I really like…not everybody is able to nail it down, but it’s never late and you absolutely do it. In fact, I put together this pdf guide a while back to help you find yours! Hope you find it useful!
Why quit job to travel to Mexico
I probably have made all my friends and family go crazy with me talking about Latin America non-stop for the past 4-5 years… the music, the people, the COLORSSSS, everything about that part of the world made me want to move there for such a long time. Initially the intention was to quit job to travel in the region, but later on I started thinking that I want to live there! I wanted to build a life in a place I adore, doing the things I’m passionate about. While I would always keep my European experiences, friends, and family close to my heart, I aimed to establish a more fulfilling life in Latin America.
Mexico wasn’t a carefully planned choice. A while back, someone told me, ‘You can’t meticulously choose where you’ll be happy forever; it has to come to you naturally and let it happen to you.’ That advice stuck with me, so I didn’t want to overcomplicate things when starting this new chapter. Somehow, the support of my family, my life experience, my career background and my passion for fashion was enough for me to start my journey. But, like I mentioned earlier, calling it ‘brave’ makes me uneasy because it implies I had other options. In my mind and heart, this was the only way forward.
Moving to Mérida wasn’t a meticulously planned decision. I did about 30 minutes of research before booking my flight and the first month’s Airbnb. The research suggested Mérida is one of the safest places with a rich culture, HOT HOT weather, and vibrant colors. So, I took the leap, and I haven’t regretted it so far! The first few weeks were spent exploring the city, meeting new people, picking up the language, and adjusting to the relaxed lifestyle. Besides the beautiful architecture in the heart of Mérida, I fell in love with salsa dancing. While salsa isn’t specific to this region or Mexico in general (it’s more of a Caribbean specialty, particularly popular in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Cuba), Mérida has plenty of bars and venues where salsa nights are regular and beloved events.
I wrote this article to emphasize that your career background, where you live, or unfamiliar cultures should never hold you back from making necessary changes. Just as we may regret bad choices, we might also regret missed opportunities in life. I hope my journey resonates with some of you and inspires you. If you are also looking to visit Mexico soon, there are some awesome resources on things to do in other parts of Mexico that’s worth a read! Join me in my next blog post, where I’ll dive deeper into Mexico. Hasta pronto!