Jay & Stella have been married since 1991, having met in Brooklyn in 1989. Jay is from Connecticut and Stella is from Colombia and they have 3 children. They both have news backgrounds, Jay working at CNN and Bloomberg and Stella at NBC.
As they entered their 50’s, Jay was facing unemployment and Stella having put her career aspirations on hold to focus on the children, were unsure of their next step.
What is interesting is how things work out if you are open to them.
A week after they were notified that Jay’s department was being eliminated, Jay was offered a position in Beijing, China. At the same time, Stella became aware of “The Way”or “The Camino de Santiago” and decided she wanted to do it. The Camino de Santiago de Compestela is a pilgrimage along the route St. James walked in Spain to gain followers 1,800 years ago. It is a hike of over 600 miles, crossing the Pyrenees in France across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. Once purely religious in nature, it is now also a path of spiritual, cultural and recreational purpose.
They planned their trip for April of 2014.
Had they hesitated or lacked faith, they would have lost the opportunity of walking across Spain together and sharing a profound experience.
The Camino was just the start of the journey, however, it prepared them both for the challenges they would face living abroad in such a foreign culture. At a time when many of their friends and neighbors were facing divorce at this stage of life, they developed a stronger bond through the challenges they encountered together. They learned to travel with only what they could carry with them and rely on each other for support and encouragement.
After hiking 34 days in Northern Spain, they moved to Beijing, China with their youngest daughter. They spent a year discovering a new culture and increasing their spiritual awareness. Facing many personal challenges in a drastically foreign culture, returning to New York was a hard reflection on their previous lifestyle.
In 2016, once again they set out to walk the Camino, this time sharing the experience with their children. It was during this time that the US Presidential Campaigns for the 2016 Elections were the focus around the world. They were struck by the polarity and divisiveness of the campaigns and negativity surrounding the whole affair. It was during this time that they developed the notion that there is a greater purpose to their experiences.
While it is a good thing to have differing opinions, perspectives and priorities, it is not good to promote hate, fear and disunion in these interests. The focus of our energies should be to bring people together rather than to separate or alienate them.
With this new perspective, they decided to pursue a life beyond the traditional, to push beyond their comfort zone, to learn and explore through the diverse experiences of others, and as professional storytellers decided to make that their challenge.
They sold their home and committed to traveling the US on a motorcycle and sidecar. Solely through talking with people they meet along the way, they discover diverse stories of hope, kindness and inspiration in communities across this nation. It is crucial to always be aware of the positive we create as we are all too often reminded of the negative.
In the spirit of the Camino, the motorcycle and sidecar allows them to travel side by side, open to the elements, sharing the experience yet with distinct, individual perspectives. On March 25th 2017, they picked up their unconventional mode of transportation. It was a wet, chilly day and they were not prepared for the adventure in many ways but in typical fashion, they took the leap.