Obviously, not makeup or beauty or coffee, but it’s related to coffee. This poor guy was one of my first followers, he thought I was all about a coffee. Then, he soon found out I also like makeup, dogs, and gardening and is still a loyal follower present day.
He has nothing to do with makeup or gardening, but he is a fellow coffee lover. His photographs are stellar and nothing short of NatGeo worthy. I recently sent him a message saying, “Hey, thanks for still supporting MB and I’m sorry you are forced to like my makeup pictures.” His response was “I enjoy supporting anyone who is passionate about whatever they are passionate about.”
I started asking him about his traveling and HOW exactly he makes coffee when I’m assuming he doesn’t have a stove or filtered Brita water. One day he tells me that he barfed all over the streets of Spain. He basically got food poisoning and went on about how food sanitation is something to be treasured in America. Being mature and all, I asked him the following day how his runs were. Something about poop conversations is how some of the nicest friendships begin.
I decided to ask him if he’d be willing to do a travel interview. This isn’t like how I travel with all my skin care and makeup in two separate, large parcels. Or, a nice comfy ride to the airport in an air-conditioned SUV. This definitely isn’t like sitting in a scary place bracing for turbulence at which point you text everyone you love your last words and then feel stupid when you land safely. Yes, I hate flying and turbulence. Jonathan’s travels are dangerous, fun, exciting, and painfully efficient in the staples he can bring with him. No healing mask or ph 5.5 face wash over here.
Let’s see what Survivor World Traveler, Jonathan Spinner, has to say! Follow him here if you want to see more great pics @photosbyjonathan
1. What made you decide you wanted to travel the world? Was there a specific event that piqued your interest?
In college Jeff Johnson and Chris Malloy came on our campus to screen their new film 180° South: Conquerors of the Useless. The film planted the seed of adventure in my head. I wanted to go on trips and I wanted to experience things that not everyone could. That was in 2010 and then a couple years later I was on a train from Zurich to Zermatt in the mountains of Switzerland. My family was supposed to be with me but their flight got delayed so I was by myself, stressed I wouldn’t find them. Across from me on the train were two Germans deciding where to go next. They were drinking a bunch of beers as Germans do. Something about them was so genuine and free. I was on a 10-day vacation, knew exactly where I was going, and felt so limited. These guys had no idea where they’d sleep that night or even where they were going and couldn’t have cared less. I decided right then that I needed to do a big trip and experience the world.
2. If someone wanted to travel like you, what would they need to bring with them?
My favorite things to do while I travel are to get off the beaten path, take photos, drink coffee, and run. Everything I have is focused around that. I have been traveling with a 50 liter Osprey Pack. Maybe you can affiliate link that? Haha I’m kidding. I started the trip with enough shirts, socks, and boxers for a week. I’m down to like 4 shirts and 3 pairs of socks. The boxers have all survived! I have different stuff sacks to keep everything organized; one for shirts and shorts, one for socks and boxers, and one for dirty stuff. This has saved me a lot of frustration packing up. I have a stuff sack full of coffee stuff: Aeropress, Porlex Mini grinder, small scale… Yeah, it’s out of control; lot’s of questions in hostels and out in the wilderness. A couple things I wouldn’t want to be without: a UV water filter (I have used it a ton), Kindle (hard to find books in English), phone, sleeping bag liner, and a nice family who will take things back home when I’m done with the camping leg of the trip. Thanks, Mom!
3. What was your best trip and why? What did you learn?
So far on this year long journey my best trip has been Machu Picchu. I was concerned it wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype or that I’d feel like a sheep in the herd. When everyone says how amazing something is you never know. Not the case in Peru! I did a four-day trek, much less popular than the famous Inca Trail, but didn’t require a guide. It’s called the Salkantay Trek if you want to look into it. I didn’t think I could feel so off the beaten path to one of the most popular destinations in the world. I only saw a handful of people the whole trek. The people I did meet though were amazing individuals. I got to sit down and drink coffee with the farmer who picked the actual beans I was tasting, got life advice from a six-year-old, and learned about quinoa and chia seeds from her dad. Reaching Machu Picchu was only one small part of the experience. I learned for me the process is just as important as the outcome and it’s so much more rewarding for me to do something on my own.
4. What was your worst trip and why would you never go back?
My least favorite place was probably El Salvador. It was the only part of the trip where I have felt unsafe. We’d be walking down the street in San Salvador and everyone would stop what they were doing to watch. As rough as it was, I did meet an amazing old woman making pupusas. She wouldn’t let me pay her for the food. It was a gift and that was that. I felt really touched.
5. What moment in time during travel did you feel happiest? Conversely, what was a sad moment?
One of my happiest moments came in Pucón, Chile. I was with two Americans who came into my life 100% by faith. I met Steve in a cafe in Santiago. I started talking to him because he was repping my university on his shirt. After talking for 15 minutes he decided he needed to come with me to Patagonia to run a 70km ultra marathon two days later. Who was I to tell him people usually train for those sort of things? In Pucón we met up with a girl named Christina who someone I knew had met on a bus in Europe the winter before. The three of us clicked instantly and all finished this 70km race. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. I was so proud of us for just doing it. There is no perfect time to try something so why not today? I then ran into each of them independently at the bus station in Argentina a couple days apart.
Saddest moment was definitely coming back to society (and to a mountain of Facebook posts about Thanksgiving) after a couple weeks on a coffee farm in Nicaragua. It forced me to look at what I was giving up to travel. Why am I here on a coffee farm, in the rain, with no hot water, speaking a language I struggle with when I could be home eating turkey in a heated house? I came out a better person and was realized exactly why I was traveling and who I wanted to travel with.
6. Since we are always talking about how different people are and while some of these differences are highlighted through beauty and physical appearances, how are people in different parts of the world similar in views, morals, and heart?
This is such a hard question. Two things I noticed throughout my travels: food and family are so important. In developing countries people spend a significant amount of time and effort on these two categories. Much more so than Americans, I think. Makes you wonder what’s truly important you know?
7. Why do you love photography?
I took a few black and white courses and fell in love with the darkroom. The excitement of waiting while the chemicals created a physical interpretation of what you saw through the viewfinder. Now I shoot with a digital camera but the excitement of capturing moments hasn’t faded. I really enjoy sharing what I see on my travels with friends back home and people who aren’t able to travel.
8. Describe your typical day in a new place. How do you get there? How long do you stay? Where do you stay?
There really isn’t a typical day. I am not an organized traveler! That can’t be stressed enough. If I ever travel with someone again they will need to be organized and have capacity to plan. I try to travel by bus as much as possible. There is something romantic about telling the driver, “drop me here,” and watching the bus leave in a cloud of dust as you try yo figure out where you are going. I like to stay in a place for at least two nights. I and usually stay in hostels but sometimes I spoil myself with Airbnbs.
9. You’ve mentioned the longest you’ve gone without a shower is 9 days, what did that first shower feel like?
Haha yeah after a long trip in the mountains. The first shower was very slimy. The soap couldn’t quite cut the layer of sunscreen. I think it took three or four showers to actually feel clean.
10. So you prefer to travel alone or with a partner? Do you ever feel lonely?
Well, I told myself after a summer alone in 2014 that I’d never do an extended solo trip again but I forgot that when I flew to Mexico by myself to start this adventure. But I’ve come to appreciate spending quality time with myself and I do enjoy the freedom. That’s not to say I haven’t wished I had a friend with me for an amazing sunrise or hilarious incident but to either be with someone who isn’t a good travel partner or to miss the experience altogether would be far worse. Like Kendrick says, “You ever been a victim of being a prisoner inside your own mind?” At a certain point, the suffering of being alone looks incredibly peaceful. You just have to get out and explore even if it’s not perfect. That’s what’s perfect.