On October 6, 2019, Jessica Nabongo, one of our beautiful muses, arrived in the Seychelles, the last country on her list during her quest to visit every country in the world. It was not only a personal achievement for her, who recognizes the privilege she had, but an inspiration for a whole generation of women. After all, being the first black woman to have visited every country is not for everyone. After a year of transcribing her journey, Jessica releases her first book "The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman's Journey to Every Country in the World", with National Geographic. We had the wonderful opportunity to sit with Jessica and learn more about her journey.
What can you share about the journey to writing your book and being the first black woman to have visited every single country?
Writing a book is really challenging! When I made the decision to visit every country in the world, I really was doing it for myself. The journey ultimately became so much bigger than me. If I had known when I was traveling that I was going to write a book, I would have taken notes! Also, I would have strategized and made sure to capture everything. But at first, it was just about me and experiencing the journey in the moment, which was really fulfilling.
What inspired you to write ‘The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman's Journey to Every Country in the World’?
Honestly, I feel like less than 250 people in the entire world have had the chance to visit every single country, and it's such an immense privilege. Only two of them are black and I'm one of them. I learned so many lessons during my journey, and it really changed my perception of humanity and taught me the value of sustainability for the planet. I was truly fueled by a deep desire to share what I learned through this immensely rare opportunity to see the world. It actually took almost one year for me to complete the book.
When I made the decision to visit every country in the world, I really was doing it for myself. The journey ultimately became so much bigger than me.
What does being an accomplished black woman mean to you?
For me, it's about having the opportunity to create the life that I wanted to live. I recognize that my work and perspective inspire other black women and black girls. I am also grateful to know that people, in general, have been motivated through my work and bold decisions to really believe that their dreams are valid and attainable.
If you could choose one place in the world to be right now, where would it be and why?
Right at this very moment, I would love to be in the Maldives. It currently feels cold in LA and I would just love to be laying on a beautiful beach, looking at the bright blue water, sipping a cold glass of champagne. It's funny because the book cover is in the Maldives, and that is where I would go if I could just snap my fingers.
How do you practice self-care and balance work, travel, and life?
I prioritize enjoyment above everything else. To me, what’s more important than working or earning money is simply living. This means that I chose to not reply to my emails promptly and I don't work on Wednesdays at all, for example. That's my day off to take care of myself, have therapy or a massage. I have very strict boundaries when it comes to working and I prioritize ‘living’ over everything else in my life.
I prioritize enjoyment above everything else. To me, what’s more important than working or earning money is simply living.
One piece of advice you'd like to give your 20-year-old self?
I would say everything will fall into place. I think that in our 20s we're trying to figure it all out without realizing we have our entire life ahead of us.
What is your favorite Diarrablu piece and why?
It's the Alaise jumpsuit featuring loose sleeves and wide legs. I'm obsessed with it! I wear it every time I travel and I need it in another print! I'm always wearing the same thing and I don't mind, I love it. I think 30% of my wardrobe is Diarrablu now. Yesterday I was wearing the kimono with the pants and as I was walking down the street in LA, a woman, in her car, was like 'oh my god, I love your outfit!', and then in the bathroom in a restaurant, another lady stopped by me to ask about it. A lot of people I know that I've introduced to the brand are now obsessed with it!
The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman's Journey to Every Country in the World
In this inspiring travelogue, celebrated traveler and photographer Jessica Nabongo―the first Black woman on record to visit all 195 countries in the world―shares her journey around the globe with fascinating stories of adventure, culture, travel musts, and human connections.PRE-ORDER