Adriano Meireles is 28 years old and at risk for Huntington’s disease. To raise awareness and funds for the Portuguese association, Associação Portuguesa Dos Doentes De Huntington, he decided to walk across Portugal.
– Why did you embark on this journey?
– This adventure started because I found out on the last couple of years that I love traveling and hiking. In 2018/19 I lived in Indonesia for 6 months as part of a volunteering program, and at the beginning of 2020 in Italy. It was the first time that I lived alone and in total isolation, and because of this, it was a time to think and reflect which made me feel happy.
I knew at the time that my job contract was going to end in September, and the situation to travel abroad would be really complicated, so I was wondering what I could do in my country to have some adventure and get out of the comfort zone. I thought about going with motorcycle or bike, but in my perspective it don’t feel as much as an adventure. So, one day, after revisiting some photos of the caminho de Santiago that I did in 2019 I decided that I would walk Portugal from the northernmost point to the southernmost point.
– Why do you want to raise awareness of Huntington’s disease?
– My father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease and because of that my family told me and my brothers that we had 50/50 chances of getting it because it is hereditary. And so, as I was planing my long walk across Portugal, I got the idea of associating this walk as a mean to bring awareness and raise funds for the Portuguese association.
In my perspective this long journey is a metaphor that somehow can have similarities with the things people affected by Huntington’s disease have to deal with. I walk alone with my fears in my backpack, but on the other hand I am never alone. Friends, family and strangers along the road support me and give me strength to proceed.
– Despite meeting people along the way, you spend most of the day alone. How does that feel?
– It’s interesting and challenging, and because I am doing a daily report about the journey it keeps my mind busy with photos, videos and texts that I write daily. But in between all this I have time to plan and organize my thoughts, and it has been really productive.
– A part of your trip is to take a photo every day. How did you become so acrobatic?
– That’s a good one. It was not planned to become a trend to do this jumping photos but people loved the first one and I just kept doing it. As a child despite the lack of fingers in my left hand, I was allways really adventurous and active. I was in the scouts, took swimming lessons, karate, football – you name it, and all this activity as a kid I think that grew even more as an adult.
Learn more: Follow Adriano’s journey on instagram
– How long will the journey last?
The journey is a little bit more than 1000 km, and with some pauses along the way because of governmental mandatory curfews in some weekends, the trip will last approximately 2 months. Its already been one and a half, so from now on I feel really confident to finish this in really good terms.
– So then you have to walk… how much per day?
On average I walk about 20 km per day, at the beginning it was a lot harder because my backpack weighted arround 14 kg. But as I walked, I started to realise that I was carrying things that were not so necessary, and now it is about 9 kg.
This is a good analogy for the feelings and ideas that we sometimes carry trough life – and some day we realise that we have to let go of it.
– What do you wish to achieve when this trip is over?
– I want to inspire people around me to take action in their daily lives, to be brave and step out in the world and show their potential.
That was also one of the motifs that this journey is madeb by walking: to make people see that sometimes we don’t need anything more than what we already have to go and conquer the world, at least our inner world.
And another important part is to make people aware that are diseases like Huntington that need attention and support, and we can learn a lot from the testimonials of people that somehow are related with it.