You don’t know well-travelled until you meet Jade Moyano. The saying “living everywhere and nowhere” is truly befitting of her lifestyle and if you follow her on Instagram (@jademoyano, seriously follow her) don’t be surprised to see her traverse the Scottish Highlands, Costa Rican rainforest and then pop up at Burning Man all in a matter of weeks. Here the travel writer and editor gives us the lowdown on her favorite trips, the secrets to her gorgeous curls, and the weirdest thing she’s ever eaten while on the road.
Job: Travel Writer, Editor, and Creative Consultant
Heritage: Native Brazilian, African, Portuguese and Spanish.
Your middle name is Amazonia, what’s the story behind the name?
Moyano: My mom is just really creative, it’s my real name! I think she’s very hippie, very nature-oriented and Jaji [in Portuguese] is Jade, which is green. She just thought that the green of the stone matching the green of the forest would be a cool character trait. Literally, that’s why she said, “I am going to double up on green, then you’re going to be twice as nature-oriented.”
What do you do?
I am a creative consultant and freelance travel writer. I am also co-founding a new site called Abroad Everywhere, which focuses on independent women travelers going places. I write for a few different publications outside of that such as Monocle and Conde Nast Traveller UK, and help startups communicate their brand message in ways that are relevant within the travel/lifestyle realm.
Where did you grow up in Brazil?
I grew up in a small city called Paraty which is about three hours from Rio, so I spent quite a lot of time going there to visit. I went to boarding school outside of Rio, but mainly grew up on the beach at a tiny little town.
When did you start having the desire to travel?
I’ve always had this thing with travel. My stepfather is from Argentina and we had family visiting often, that made me so curious to understand cultures and languages from a young age. I also had some family in New York, and I always found it fascinating how multicultural they became over time. So I would say I was born with the travel bug.
What are some memorable world travel moments for you?
They are all memorable, it’s crazy, every place is so different and unforgettable. I loved the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, that was amazing. I also love Sicily — amazing food, fascinating people. Colombia is one of my favorite countries tough, Bogota, Cartagena, and some remote Amazon regions are stunning. Colombians are the warmest people, so fun, lots of impromptu dancing on streets, and great food.
I love Iceland too, their fermented shark and other really weird food and Scotland will always be special to me.
What makes Sicilians fascinating?
They are super authentic, they don’t care about trivial things so much. They will talk to you in Sicilian even though you don’t understand a thing, and they’ll shout at the top of their lungs thinking that if they talk louder you’re going to get it. They just are kind of mad, I love it.
What did you see in the Atlas Mountains?
Real Berber Culture, century-old traditions, goats hanging out on trees (image below). You can go on week long treks around the mountains, camp near rivers, and eat with your hands. There is also a lot of love and dedication for craftsmanship, for example, women hand-press the argan oil, the rugs are hand-woven too. Parts of the Atlas feel like Mars, it’s so very exotic.
Your latest trip was to Burning Man, and you’ve gone many times before. What draws you to it?
Burning Man to me feels almost like traveling to another country, a country we create for ourselves every year — we have our own society in there. I haven’t been anywhere else where I experience this type of sharing economy — the kindness, selflessness, gratitude and super high-level creative expression shared by each individual there fills you with love. To have all of that in one place for a week without buts and ifs is magical. Everything runs on gifting — you give and receive everything you need. That makes it worth every obstacle to get there. Plus I met some of my favorite people in the world on the playa.
A lot of people don’t go because they say it’s a logistical nightmare — and yes it is — however that makes it even better. You have to go through a lot to get there and then once you arrive, it’s like you’ve arrived at your mecca.
What do you say to people who say it’s become too commercialized?
Everything is becoming more commercialized in the world in general. It’s unfortunate but also unavoidable in today’s culture (especially in the U.S.). Burning Man – I can see why it takes away some of the appeal because there is a lot of technology now and super high-end camps, cell phones suddenly now work — they used to not work. It’s changed, but you have to make the experience your own. You’re always going to run into that issue of commercialization with anything that’s great and gets discovered.
What’s the key to feeling somewhat clean there?
It’s possible but you almost don’t want to. You’re not going to invest a ton of time in getting groomed, well actually some people do, but I don’t. If I’m out on a mission I’m not coming back to brush my hair. It’s all about your priorities, it’s hard to maintain certain beauty standards out there. Your skin gets really dry, your fingers start to crack, your nails get long and dirty. But who cares, just go out and experience life!
You’re very low-maintenance when it comes to beauty, is that aligned with your Brazilian background? What’s the beauty ideal in Brazil?
Brazil is insane when it comes to beauty ideals. On the one hand you have real natural beauty everywhere — just effortless. However there is also so much plastic. There is a lot of plastic surgery — women who are super decked out, with tons of makeup, fake lips and boobs — it’s weird. I’m from the jungle, so that’s where it comes from for me.
I don’t get hit on in Brazil, I’m too skinny for them. [They like] an ass, big boobs, big legs all that curvy stuff. Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela are all into surgeries, but they don’t need to be, there are so many naturally beautiful women there.
What are some of your natural beauty tips?
I love natural oils — organic coconut or lavender for the skin, moroccan for the hair. Rose water to freshen up… Keeping everything hydrated is key! Plus the natural smell is amazing, you won’t need perfumes.
You have the perfect curls, what do you do with them?
Honestly, I do nothing, If I wash my hair too much it gets frizzy. I wash my hair for hygiene, but I plan it, like I’ll probably wash it at the beginning of the week so that it looks better closer to the weekend.
I used to like shampoo, but it’s just bad and really dries curls out. I also stopped combing, I’m not kidding.
Does it not get knotted?
Yeah, but you just run your fingers through it in the shower. Half of the time when I shower I let water run through it and then when I get out I put a towel on my head and I squeeze it. I have a moroccan oil that I use on the tips, but not always. Sometimes curly hair is like a beast of it’s own — I learned over the years, just don’t touch it.
Brazil is very diverse but do you think the country’s beauty standards reflect this diversity?
Brazil is really multi-cultural but still to this day you’re considered royalty if you’re light and blonde, because there’s a whole obsession with being European or American-looking even though the majority of people are darker with curly hair.
Growing up, all I wanted was straight hair because everybody had straight hair and not even naturally, they straightened it. People were getting relaxers at 12 years old, permanently straightening their hair when they were super young.
When did you embrace your curls?
It comes with age, it really does, you grow into your own skin and you start to appreciate it.
Since you travel a lot, how do you keep yourself beautiful on the road?
I’m horrible, I’m the worst person for this! Honestly the only thing I always have to have are my oils, that’s it, in a tiny little bottle, put it in my carry on. I don’t carry anything, I never even pack until like the night before. I am a strong believer in traveling light. If I can remember, I bring with me sometimes my curl conditioner from Deva Curl.
Traveling is usually seen as somewhat glamorous but it’s not always like that. Can you tell me about your less glamorous moments?
You definitely don’t have access to the things you’re used to. When I travel I always choose the scenic route, which takes longer and requires a lot of flexibility. I don’t like having more on me than I can carry for that reason, so I stick to the essentials. Sometimes when you travel like that you get lost, you may not come back for a few days, you may not have a change of clothes. Traveling by bus across Costa Rica once took me a full day. Those days you wish you had a toilet, you wish you had a shower, and then you get in and stay in a hostel that you’re sharing with people — that’s not the most glamorous. I like the balance, sometimes I’ll go to a super luxurious place where there’s a spa and I’ll get a massage.
Does going to low-key help you appreciate traveling luxe?
I can’t do too much of that either. I love to camp and leave all my stuff behind, and staying in a fancy hotel also gets monotonous for me. I like the balance, the in between places.
A lot of people tell women they shouldn’t travel alone, what would you say to those people?
Our society is fueled by fear. These are socially constructed ideas put in place to control and manipulate the way we live. Kids are taught to be weary of strangers, and are rarely re-educated on the concept. As we get older we need to shed some of those fears and realize that people can be trusted. So many of us are on the same page, worrying about stuff that doesn’t exist. What if we all decided to stop? Ninety-nine percent of our fears are never realized. Just do your research and be careful, make contact with people there, use common sense, be open and be smart.
Traveling solo is almost a lifestyle choice, it takes a lot of adjusting and re assessing things in your life, your priorities. To be a strong, fearless, independent woman in a male-dominated world takes work. Being a woman shouldn’t prevent you from having experiences!
Images By Nianga Niang