Meet the winners of the 2015
Griots Republic Digital Scavenger Hunt

One of the most fascinating things about the human existence on this planet is that at any given time, in any given place someone is making moves, changes, and decisions in regards to their own lives that can allow them to connect with people they have never met or strengthen the Traveler 1connections they already have, in profound ways that they haven’t even thought of. For those whose decisions include seeing the world, the possibility for these types of connections multiply. Every time a new plane ticket is purchased and a backpack is stuffed to capacity, the ripple effect begins. From the plane ride to the destination and back, a traveler is guaranteed to return home a little different than when they left. They are also guaranteed to make new friends. Such was the case when three travelers, from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, who never met, were teamed up to participate in a Scavenger Hunt hosted by
Griots Republic.

Traveler 2Twenty-seven teams, made up of three people each, set out on a global scavenger hunt for four weeks. The hunt began with a search for clothing items made in China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. Then participants had to sing the national anthem from three countries while waving that country’s flag. After trying out for “Global Idol,” so-to-speak, they had to show off their literary chops. Each player had to find one of the fourteen travel books from a provided list, and read a page from that book. Lastly, because every celebration or competition should end with a toast whether you win or lose, the teams had to find six different wines from six locations around the world that were all made the same year.

Meet the winners: Donna, a Brooklyn Born Trinidadian;; Gordon a descendant of Thailand, currently living in Denver; and Jessica, a first generation American with Jamaican roots who’s currently putting down roots of her own in California.

Traveler 3Both Donna and Gordon are entrepreneurs, and Jessica Ann’s career choice allowed her to visit and study in many locations. They each have their personal reasons for hopping on a plane whether it’s to stay connected to their heritage; setting off on a solo adventure because of a flight deal that couldn’t be passed up; or learning how to navigate different countries while relying on an inner map.

On the surface, you have three badass humans who found a way to win a competition together. Dig deeper and you see how travel can shape people into teachers, explorers, and heroes. You’ll see how connecting to their culture, finding themselves, and facing fears abroad made these three travelers an unstoppable team when they were grouped together to complete the scavenger hunt. Ultimately you’ll see, how a winning team comprised of three travelers found commonality and comradery to take them to victory.

Returning To My Roots

I can remember flying on airplanes when smoking was allowed. Going with my Grandma to get fresh coconut water in the morning for breakfast and seeing monks walk the streets. Playing outside Buddhist temples while my Mom and Grandma visited with friends. Thai culture has been with me since that first flight at 1 year old. The picture attached is in front of the Nan Yang Book Co. This housed my Mom’s family (upstairs), provided an income (sold stationary to locals), and reinforced the character traits (humility, grit, respect) that I would share with my kids.

Teturning to my RootsThis summer I was able to take my two kids to see what living outside the US feels like. Going through customs at the physical borders, eating new fruits, foods, and spices. In the end they experienced with family how their ancestors lived and provided for a better future. They probably don’t realize it yet but the ropagation of positive momentum is happening. This little store, home, place to learn has created opportunity that they may never fully understand.
– Gordon Trujillo

I tell this story not to scare
anyone but to celebrate
that my voice would never
have gained sure clarity if I
didn’t travel over oceans to
the other side of the globe
to find myself.

The Emerging Layers of Me

I got lost in Milan and learned what intuition really was. I listened to the internal voice that a lot of women sometimes ignore, so as not to feel or appear “crazy.” I learned that this voice can actually save you from danger. I originally booked lodging in Rome, but I missed my flight to Rome. I had to switch my flight to Milan with nowhere to stay. I thought learning Italian on my Duolingo app on the way would totally suffice. Well I was wrong.

I finally found a place in Milan, but by that time it was nightfall. I couldn’t find my place and the B&B owner didn’t speak English. So it was after 9PM, I had my huge backpack on my back, as I embraced #TeamCarryOn for the first time. No one could understand me when I asked for directions, my map kept taking me in circles and I couldn’t locate the street signs.

A guy in the park across the street asked me if I needed help. He spoke English, yay! He tells me that he can show me the way to my place and that it’s just through the park on the other side. The park looked very dark and desolate, but there was another woman sitting there. I looked at the woman and in her eyes I saw a warning like, “Don’t do it. You in danger, girl!” (In my “Whoopie voice.”) So my spidey senses raised, but at the same time that other voice that women often hear said “You’re being silly. Don’t be so dramatic. You’re overthinking it. You’re lost. Take the help. Stop being so scared.” At that moment I saw a flash of me coming to the end of the park and another man waiting for me at the end of a dead-end street. Behind my shoulder was the man who offered to “help me.” Lastly, was the woman sitting on the bench with her eyes warning me. This whole flash happened in milliseconds. I told the guy, “Thanks a lot. but I’m good.” and I hightailed it in the other direction, eventually finding my place.

I tell this story not to scare anyone but to celebrate that my voice would never have gained sure clarity if I didn’t travel over oceans to the other side of the globe to find myself. Since then, I’ve had many more solo journeys and they have only gotten better. I still get lost, but along the way I find friends, beautiful smiling faces, hidden cafes, festive bars, ancient statues and the best woman I didn’t know I knew – emerging from layers and growing parts of ME!

– Donna Jaye

I am not sure why it didn’t
register that I would have to
literally hike INTO a volcano to
see this blue flame, but it didn’t.

Proceed With Caution

It’s 2:00 am, pitch black and I holding the hand (tightly) of a 90lb Javanese mine worker, as he is leading me into an active volcano. No guard rails, no steps, no barriernothing that separates me from slipping and/or falling to my death into this volcano. Yea, I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’m not a thrill seeker, adrenaline junkie or dare devil. In fact I’m terrified of heights, well more so falling to my death. So you and I are both wondering why, oh why am I here hiking into an active, sulphur spewing volcano in the middle of the night in Indonesia.

In April 2015, Delta Airlines and affiliates had a sale to South East Asia. I purchased a plane ticket for May from LA to Tokyo, Japan to Jakarta, Indonesia to Seoul, South Korea back to LA for $386 USD. Amazing, right?! Normally I would call around, message friends and family and see who I could get to join me on my travels, but not this time. I decided that this time, I didn’t need company. I wanted to experience what it would be like to backpack alone abroad. After the no refund, 24-hour purchase period, I shared the news with my close friends and family. My mom and sister loved it and were excited for me, my dad not so much. He was definitely worried for my safety because I was traveling alone and he was very suspicious about Indonesia since the court trials and execution for the “Bali nine” was still in the news. My friends, mostly travelers, were excited and supportive. I was off to South East Asia for 3 weeks!

While backpacking solo you meet so many people from different parts of the world. I was a week into my adventure and still reveling in the realness that I was here exploring Asia. While having dinner with some people I met (a female nurse from France, a couple from Argentina and another female nurse from Italy) doing a tour of Mt Bromo, we were talking about our plans for the next day. I mentioned I was taking the ferry from Java to Bali. The others were all going to Ijen to do the sunrise hike up the mountain and hike into the volcano to see the blue flame that comes off the lava. Sounded fun but I’ve been backpacking and roughing it for a week now and wanted some beach time in Bali. They begged and pleaded for me to change my plans and go with them on the midnight tour to Ijen, so I did.

I am not sure why it didn’t register that I would have to literally hike INTO a volcano to see this blue flame, but it didn’t. The hike up was exhausting, 4 miles at a 45 degree angle the entire way up the mountain. I get to the entrance of the volcano and there is a sign “proceed with caution” on the gate. I enter foolishly and begin the climb into Ijen. Onefourth of the way down, as pebbles move and slip under my feet, there are no rails to hold on to and nothing to stop me from falling into the volcano, I decide I’m too young to die and if I go I don’t want it to be me falling into a volcano.

One of the mineworkers saw me stopped, contemplating my current poor life decisions, and took me by the hand and said, “You come.” I said, “nah, I’m going to go back.” He repeated, “You come.” So I foolishly followed him, terrified for my life the entire hour into the volcano to see this blue flame.

I made it to the flame took pictures, let my heart recuperate from that traumatic journey and ran out of that volcano as fast as possible.
– Jessica Ann


Simone Waugh

Simone Waugh is a writer prone to wanderlust. A city girl with Brooklyn in her heart and Paris on the brain. Crossing potholes, puddles, and ponds while planning to cross more oceans. You can find her riding shotgun on frequent road trips ignoring the GPS and hogging the radio. Follow her adventures across the keyboard and the eventually the world.

Donna Jaye

Brooklyn Made, original New Yorker, Solo Travel Savant, and Purveyor of Pretty. She is a Women’s Empowerment Coach. She teaches women the power of showing up as their most beautiful self by highlighting the message “You can be smart, pretty and powerful.” Donna helps real women, and entrepreneurs tap into that with beauty, fashion, and the confidence and clarity gained through solo travel. She loves museums, and interesting doors (she has a collection of pictures of doors all over the world), reading autobiographies, bathing and dancing in the rain. She is also a certified skin care and makeup junkie. You can connect with her at launching soon or @Livemuchlovely on all social media.

Gordon Trujillo

Enjoys learning about fitness and he’s a Founder at Steve’s Club Denver, He’s also a Serial Entrepreneur, Creative Hack Coach, and he loves playing, and traveling.


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