Marianna Jamadi is one of those people you meet and instantly fall in love with. Besides the exoticness of her context and current living, she remains incredibly authentic as she roams the world as a photographer and writer as well as co-founder of El Camino. Born and raised in California, spending her twenties in New York, she is half-Finnish and half-Indonesian; we speak to her from – where else right? – a tiny remote island in Nicaragua.
You have a really unique background as a true third culture kid. How does your mixed cultural heritage and upbringing influence your worldview?
Having parents from vastly different cultures and then growing up in a culture that is neither of theirs has profoundly shaped my worldview. I grew up being open, curious, and interested in learning about and traveling to different cultures. We are the only family in the United States so we were always traveling while growing up to visit family around the world. Being exposed to different experiences and different cultures was the norm for me and now it just feels so seamless and inheritently a part of how I live.
You have the dream life. Tell us what it means to be a professional nomad and how you got here.
Dreams come with a lot of sacrifice. I haven’t had a true home for two years. I left NYC in May of 2013 with a dream to document the world for a year. I had no idea what was on the other side of that. My blog was the outlet to digest my exerpiences and share them with others. As I continued to document my travels, other photo opportunities popped up and a year ago El Camino Travel was born. If you don’t mind constantly moving, are okay with unstability and umcomfortable situations, and can roll with the punches, it is a dream life. Sometimes it can be difficult because it can feel like you are constantly hustling and sometimes you just want to unpack your bag.
What do the down days look like, and what do you miss?
I love getting lost and going for a long wander. I’ll take my camera and roam around and dine in the local spots to get a flavor of the culture. When traveling I always miss a hot shower and a comfortable bed. Those two are luxuries for sure.
Hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m doing it now. Building a company from the ground up which is both thrilling and terrifying. It’s physically demanding and can also be emotionally and psychology trying. Believing in something and throwing your whole heart and being into something without any guarantee is like jumping off a cliff not knowing if you have a parachute.
We’ve read that you travel for the difficult and beautiful moments that cause you to grow. Why is that, and share some of those moments with us?
I strongly believe that the beauty of life spans from all experiences, good and bad. When you travel you may believe in the world and humanity one day and the next day you completely lose faith because of something you witnessed or felt. It’s the range of experiences that really change or shape you as a person. To focus or glorify only the objective beauty in the world is doing yourself a diservice. Some of the most painful points in my life have also been the most magical.
I knew backpacking for a year, while very much was romanticzed in my head, was going to be challenging. You are often uncomfortable physically. “There’s no hot water,” “this bed is as hard as a rock,” “I’ve worn this dirty outfit for five days..” etc, but the emotional landscape can be just as uncomfortable. “What am I doing with my life?” “What have I done with my life?” It’s in these difficult spots that we start to stretch. Our capacity to feel and reflect grows and our entire being shifts.
What are your guiding principles in choosing what you do, be it your own work or El Camino, and other projects you have or are going to undertake?
I do work that feels true and authentic to myself. It’s only through this alignment that I feel I can reach my full potential in this life. I like work that creates waves, makes people think and feel for better or for worse. Anything to rattle someone a bit.
The one thing you would change in the world?
Empathy. If we practiced this more, I think we would understand that everyone has a story. Everyone has joy and pain and we are all operating in this world based on our own experiences. We are quick to judge the way people live or act without acknowledging there is actually no right way to live.
Marianna is a creative nomad with a beautiful view of the world. You can follow her at @nomadic_habit and visit her gallery at www.mariannajamadi.com. We are inspired by her nomadic nature and steady heart, and are proud to have her as a Fieldtester, a group of inspiring friends who regularly test MATTER products in their workplace and travels. Marianna wears The Classic Wideleg + Leharia Charcoal, Size 1, and The Sideswept Dhoti + Chakri Honeycomb, Size 1.