World traveler and social entrepreneur Marinel De Jesus left a stable job as a lawyer to pursue a longtime dream of trekking the world’s mountains.
In 2017, she quit her corporate career of 15 years in Washington, DC, USA before finally running her social enterprise and trekking company, Peak Explorations, and media site, Brown Gal Trekker, on a full-time basis, live a digital nomad lifestyle and lead trekking groups all over the world.
For over 20 years, Marinel has already traveled to 60 countries. Through these trips, she developed a love for hiking and trekking in mountains. “I discovered travel and hiking years ago which led me to start leading trips locally at first in the Washington, DC area and then globally. I am drawn to the freedom that traveling entails which inspired me to become a social entrepreneur.”
The turning point, she says, was when Marinel’s mother passed away unexpectedly, making her realized the importance of going after where her heart is. “In 2017, when my mom passed away unexpectedly, I realized the importance of living my life authentically and following my calling. Hence, my life transformed from a regular 9 to 5 kind of life to a global mountain nomad.”
In her work, Marinel aims to create inclusion and equity in the trekking tourism and outdoor industries to elevate the status of women, people of color, and immigrants.
In 2019, she founded The Porter Voice Collective, which is a non-profit media organization that advocates for the human rights of porters on the mountain trails of Peru, Nepal, and Tanzania.
“To carry out the mission of my organizations, I opted to become a global mountain nomad. I chose Cusco, Peru as my base to run my organizations.”
What Marinel loves about what she does is that she keeps a balance between work and play. While she admits that it is tough to find the balance, the key is self-discipline and good time management skills.
It pays to have a routine that keeps her on top of her work, which gives her more time to plan on personal travels—which also end up as work travel.
“This is the advantage of turning one’s hobby into my work – the endeavor is always enjoyable,” she adds.
Currently, Marinel is in Mongolia due to the pandemic. Early this year, she came to Mongolia to lead an all-women migration in Western Mongolia. Due to the closure of borders, what was supposed to be a quick trip ended up with more than six months of stay.
In her journey as a world citizen, Marinel learned that most people all over the world are kind and generous.
But despite this, Marinel takes the experience as an enriching one as it allowed her to explore and learn more from the country.
“I have treated this experience as the best one yet in my life and as such that notion truly has come into reality for me,” she says. “I spent my time getting to know the country and the local people.”
While staying in Mongolia, Marinel did a few creative projects with the locals. She produced and directed a documentary on the Kazakh women nomads and the migration entitled We Are Nomads. She also wrote a few articles for various magazines about her travels in Mongolia and was fortunate to climb with local Mongolians. Marinel was also able to visit the reindeer in northern Mongolia, Gobi desert, among a few other places, and attend the eagle hunting festivals.
In all of these experiences, Marinel believes that one should take traveling as a teacher of life.
“Traveling is much more pleasurable when you hold no expectations.
In that sense, you learn to go with the flow and be present in the moment.”