vicariosity | Custom made Jewelry | Europe Inspired Collection Jada Jo

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Vicariosity

What is Vicariosity?  It the blend of vicarious and curiosity.  The inspiration behind travel, one is curios to experience and explore a new place.  The curiosity is to see is to see, feel, and experience the unknown.

Travel is the inspiration and passion behind Jada Jo.  Come join the travel community and journey of Jada Jo.

Egypt: Between Imagination and Reality

The dawn of an ancient civilization steeped in spiritual mysticism, artistic brilliance, a supernatural depth of knowledge and futuristic insight, Egyptian history almost reads like a map of my brain, containing an endless archive of my passions, obsessions and secret fascinations.

Before experiencing the country for myself, my creative right brain imagined an Egypt filled with the unsolved, the undiscovered and the unknown—lost labyrinths, hidden tombs, forgotten cities and whispered curses. In stark contrast, my logical left brain couldn’t wait to discover the concrete knowledge, goods and experiences that the country had to offer—time-honored jewelry techniques, education on precious metals and stones, and, of course, the opportunity to observe some of the most awe-inspiring artifacts ever created. In that sense, it’s safe to say that Egypt was a no brainer (pun intended).

On my journey, in-between daydreams of myself as a 1950s explorer, I suddenly wondered if I should be preparing myself for disappointment? Surely, Egypt couldn’t be all that I had imagined? No place could hold such a wealth of history, knowledge, culture and natural beauty? I wondered whether the Egypt of my dreams could ever match up to the reality. I didn’t have wait long to get my answer. Stepping off the plane and being hit by a wall of intense, dry heat brought me back to my senses. Somehow, I knew I was in just the right place at the right time and I was ready to explore!

Cairo itself is beautifully chaotic—never still, never silent, never boring. The city is the largest in the Middle East and one of the largest in Africa, but despite its sprawling size, grand scale and modern achievements, it still retains a strong link to its ancient roots. While the Cairo of today was founded in 969 AD, its land housed cities long before that date, the remains of which can be seen in Old Cairo to this day.

The city is a stunning interplay between old and new, with a respect for the past but a face towards progress. Glittering skyscrapers sit close to some of the most spectacular examples of classical Islamic architecture anywhere on the planet. I could have spent a lifetime exploring the city itself, let alone once I ventured out towards the Giza pyramid complex, the ancient city of Memphis, the Sphynx, Valley of the Kings and further afield to Luxor and Aswan.

Everyone knows, I’m sure, the reaction when you’re in the presence of a staggering monument, a priceless artifact or an invaluable piece of history. It’s almost as if your body, mind and soul are desperately trying to comprehend what you’re seeing and understand its significance. Those moments are frequent in Egypt, whether it’s standing and looking up at the inconceivable feats of engineering that created numerous monuments and palaces, or the intricate knowledge needed to craft the most ornate, perfectly detailed jewelry, pottery and artworks.

However, the moments that I’ll perhaps remember even more fondly are the smaller moments, the moments where I got to have a more personal connection with this incredible country—looking up at some of the most vivid sunsets I’ve ever seen and imagining the ancient inhabitants in my place doing the same, feeling the warm breeze off the Nile on my face, smelling the various forms of potent incense walking around the city or grasping a handful of coarse sand in Luxor. All of these special, sensory moments helped to ground me, make me realize the reality of where I was and that it was, in fact, even better than I could have imagined.

Tuscany: Nourishment for the Soul

There’s something about Italy that unleashes a fierce appetite within me, and I don’t just mean for the steaming plates of spaghetti aglio e olio, freshly baked schiacciata and one too many glasses of Tignanello. It’s a hunger for nature, a craving for culture and an intense need to feed my mind, body and soul with the sustenance of this beautiful country.

That said, I did in fact travel to Tuscany in order to cook and eat! I decided to dedicate an entire trip to take authentic Italian cooking classes. While I often take a cooking class when I travel to new regions in order to learn the local cuisine and how to infuse elements of it into my own cooking, I’ve never traveled with food being the primary focus.

My approach to cookery is very much like my approach to crafting jewelry: I want to observe and learn from the very best, practice and make mistakes along the way, play to my strengths, perfect my skills and end up creating something that I’m truly proud of. Maybe it was the cuisine on my mind, but upon my arrival in Tuscany, the natural environment looked particularly, well, delicious! Honey-hued stone houses, lush green olive groves and cabernet-colored flowers dotted here and there. It was almost as if I was waiting to catch the lingering scent of some home-cooked delicacy in the air at every turn.

I stayed close to the picturesque town of San Gimignano, a charming locale that is exactly the Tuscany you expect and more. The classes themselves were an interesting mixture of animated social interaction, intense focus, loving guidance and quiet introspection.

When learning how to make pasta, I realized just how much of an art form this seemingly simple craft is. Like many things in life, the easier something looks and the more we take it for granted, the harder it is to actually do yourself. After many days spent practicing, repeating, perfecting and refining the same techniques, I began to feel much more at ease with my abilities in the kitchen.

As an artist, it’s easy for me to overanalyze anything I do that involves creating something with my hands. I try to turn it into an efficient process that also yields the most aesthetic results. Here, however, I learned that after a certain point, when the knowledge has been ingrained and the practice has been done, to just let it go and let your body guide you. It’s the chefs who truly feel the process instinctively that are able to create the most staggering flavors from even the most humble of ingredients.

Make your mix, roll the dough, cut, cook, season. The repetition itself almost becomes a meditation. You begin to appreciate every tiny step in the process: the feeling of flour under your hand, the gentle give of the dough and the satisfying bubbles and splashes of the freshly salted water. Learning, however inadvertently, to be mindful in these moments made me a better cook and, in turn, a better artist. Perhaps most importantly, it allowed me to savor the delicious fruits of my labor all the more.

Scotland: Finding True North

Sometimes, it seems, the travel gods do not work in your favor! My trip to Scotland seemed to be ill-fated from the start, riddled with complications, confusion and mistakes, including losing my passport in Heathrow Airport, which was perhaps one of the most stressful moments of my globe-trotting life. Needless to say, when I finally arrived, I was exhausted, extremely stressed and not in the best frame of mind to enjoy what Edinburgh had to offer. Thankfully, the city turned my mood around almost in an instant.

Built across 7 picturesque hills, Edinburgh boasts the highest concentration of historically listed buildings anywhere in the world, and is an absolute dream come true for anyone with an old soul or a wandering sensibility (both boxes checked for me).

The city is divided into the Old Town—a maze of medieval cobblestoned streets—and the New Town—a neatly arranged Georgian-era grid of streets and parks. It’s this type of contrast that’s evident everywhere in the city, and what makes it one of the most dynamic and beautiful in all of Europe. There’s a unique intermixture of high art, elite gastronomy and refined architecture alongside crowded, rowdy pubs, confusing street layouts and chaotic, all-night shenanigans.

I visited at the perfect time and, ironically, in the perfect state of mind. Edinburgh is a city that draws you out, not just out into its jumble of winding, hilly streets and chilly clifftops, but out of yourself. It’s a city that beckons you in and prompts you to explore, get lost and get out of your own head.

I found it incredibly hard to actually plan the day’s activities and much more satisfying to simply see where the city takes you, in and out of corner cafes, hidden bookstores, cozy pubs and charming alleyways, picking up tartan swathes and sterling silver trinkets. It’s easy to completely lose track of the hours this way, until the call of the seagulls stops and you realize the sun is about to set.

And it’s after dark that the personality of this city truly comes to life! Warm lights and raucous laughter spilling out onto the foggy streets from every bar, pub and restaurant. It’s a place where you’re simultaneously out of your comfort zone and always at home, meeting complete strangers who feel like they’re family. It’s a place where it’s hard to hold on to any type of stress or to take things too seriously, which is why I say I found myself there at just the right time!

South Africa: A Land Beyond Belief

Having been lucky enough to travel extensively around the world, I’m often asked “If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?” I’ve made no secret of the fact that Africa is my favorite continent, and in fact, “South Africa” is the answer that first comes to mind when I’m asked that question.

Home to some of the oldest archeological sites, greatest density of wildlife and most social diversity on the planet, South Africa is almost inconceivably rich in history, natural beauty and culture. I visited South Africa on my very first trip to the continent and was absolutely transfixed immediately. It’s a land of powdery beaches and jagged mountain peaks, arid deserts and lush greenery, all encapsulated between the sparkling South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

While South Africa may first conjure up images of deserted plains and endless brushland, Cape Town is one of the most exciting and exhilarating places I’ve ever visited. The oldest city in South Africa, it’s also undeniably modern with a chic, cosmopolitan bar, restaurant and club scene that needs to be experienced to be believed. It’s also a sun- and surf-lovers dream, with some of the most hours of uninterrupted sunshine anywhere in the world.

Also incredibly appealing about Cape Town is its proximity to some of the most glorious natural wonders on earth. Traveling northeast from the city past Stellenbosch, you’ll reach the Winelands, home to more than 300 stunning wineries. As you make the trip, the scenery changes from sun-soaked beaches to rolling hills where you can easily while away the days wandering between the vines, sampling their famous syrah, chardonnay and chenin blanc. It’s a wonderful respite from the stresses and strains of the world, but just a stopover when there’s so much more to discover!

Venture much further northeast, again enjoying some of the most spectacular scenery along the way and you’ll arrive at one of the most captivating places I’ve ever visited: Kruger National Park. An immense modern-day Eden, the park houses the Big Five: lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros—plus 137 other mammals and over 500 varieties of bird—in their natural habitat. In addition to preserving wildlife, it’s also the guardian of incredible human history, including Stone Age cave paintings and Iron age artifacts, which I used to draw some references for my own designs.

Being in such close proximity to such majestic creatures and ancient relics is both an invigorating and humbling experience. Moments like those remind you of your place in the world, both in the food chain and in history! We all have such a short time to fill our lives with the experiences we want, to make our positive impact on the world and to touch the lives of others.

It often takes a revelatory moment—like standing a few feet from a lion or looking up at some of man’s first artworks—to remind us of these things. I hope that by infusing the unbelievable places, people and things I’ve been able to experience into my craft—and by using that to give back to others—that I’ll manage to do my part during my stay on this planet.

Hawaii: My Place to Exhale

The serenity, tranquility and harmony of Hawaii has a way of becoming part of you—breathed in through crisp, salty air, soaked in through golden sunlight and taken in through a rainbow of tropical colors. From the moment you arrive, it’s as if your body knows to relax, mind knows to clear and soul knows to absorb the beauty that surrounds you.

Living in California, I had visited Hawaii as a child but didn’t truly appreciate it until I was an adult. Perhaps in my youngest years, I was already relaxed enough that I didn’t gauge the differences between California and Hawaii! As a busy adult with a million thoughts in her mind at any given moment, Hawaii offered me the opportunity to let go, stop overthinking and simply start experiencing.

I spent my time on Kaua'I, which is an emerald green island dotted with picture-perfect beaches, epic hiking trails, mountain ridges and secret waterfalls. There are certain places where colors simply seem more vivid, brighter than you’ve ever experienced before, and Kaua'I is one of them. Thanks to the carpet of tropical rainforest covering the majority of its land, the island is the oldest and greenest in the Hawaiian archipelago and earns its nickname as “The Garden Isle.”

Nature is the primary form of entertainment here, with surfing, snorkeling, hiking, mountain climbing and whale watching all on offer. Unsurprisingly, nature is also the primary form of nourishment, from just-picked avocados and mangos (which I would enjoy as a decadent breakfast) to just-caught poke. I found myself reconnecting with nature every day, just another reason why this destination has the incredible ability to ground your thoughts and reenergize your body.

My favorite moments, unsurprisingly were when I was quite literally immersed in the natural world—surrounded by tropical waters on a swim, awe-inspiring vistas on a jog or thriving vegetation on a remote hike. These times when your mind is still and in harmony with your surroundings are so vital to repair and protect us from the realities of everyday life. For me, Kaua'I will always feel like my secret place, and the place I can return to every time my soul needs to take a breath.

The Amazon: The Essence of Life

An untraditional and unexpected destination as it spans multiple countries, the Amazon River winds its way through Brazil, Colombia and Peru before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of the largest bodies of water in the world and also one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet, but what brought me to this captivating place is an even more unique story.

I was given the incredible opportunity to do philanthropic work with Wine to Water, an organization that helps provide clean water to people in need. In learning more about the program—and the world water crisis at large—it was staggering to me that so many human beings live their daily lives without access to clean water. It’s a resource that we take for granted—almost as much as the air we breathe—yet it’s something that almost 2.2 billion people don’t have immediate access to—not thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions, but billions.

During my time on the Amazon River (and in the Amazon Rainforest), I built wells and helped supply local families with filtration systems to provide them with fresh water. Every day was a challenge and a reward in itself—drawing murky water from the river and filtering it, in the knowledge that we were giving people something both so vital and so precious.

In the most basic terms, water allows people to live. Without it, their lives become consumed by simply struggling to exist. With it, they are given the vitality and freedom to do so much more than just survive.

Many of the areas where I worked with Wine to Water were so remote that they can only be accessed by boat or motorized canoe. The feeling of following the river deeper and deeper into this unknown world as we crossed country lines felt like going back in time to a place that the outside world forgot.

The people and wildlife who call The Amazon home are equally mesmerizing and inspiring. The rainforest surrounding the river is the world’s richest in terms of biodiversity, housing more than one-third of all known species in the world. Being able to observe sloths, exotic snakes, pink dolphins, rare birds and butterflies in this raw, untouched habitat was absolutely unforgettable, as was meeting the people of the Amazon and learning how they have learned to survive off the river and land.

My passion for creativity, love of travel and need to give back go hand in hand. Throughout my life, I’ve been lucky enough to practice all three, and now, through my craft, to bring them all together. As I wound my way down the Amazon, I had the distinct feeling that the universe must be looking out for me somehow. Being able to express myself, explore the world and enrich the lives of others at the same time has truly been the jewel of my life.