Check out my /now to see where I am now.
I’m no longer the city rat I once longed to be. Since I left my ambitions to climb the career ladder, I’ve become a barefoot nature boy. I’m INTJ; I value deep meaningful conversations over small talk. I’m into biking, bouldering, experimental cooking, painting, and everything else under and around the sun. Above all, I’m addicted to travel. To me, travel means stretching my perception of what is normal by seeing how different cultures evolved. It means tasting their foods, experiencing their customs, learning their languages. This curiosity and openness has led me to live with Sinhalese families in the jungle, spontaneous road trips through Bavarian mountains, and sharing apartments with Venezuelans in Spanish speaking Colombia, and much more. All this helped me realize I prefer the bustle of birds and wild life over the hustle of cars and street lights.
I’ve always felt like the black sheep, which might explain why I only own black. I’m the product of a Lithuanian household growing up in American society. I was never good at academics so I opted for art school. I graduated with a degree in graphic design and realized I don’t know how to be creative for other people on demand, so I switched hemispheres of the brain and became a developer. I got good at it. I know because I got two raises in one year at an already awesome paying New York City startup. As good as the money was, I couldn’t sit in front of the computer screen for all those hours without a heavy wave of unhappiness coming over me. “Is this what I really want, to work my youth away climbing a career ladder unaware where it leads?” After all, in my parent’s eyes, I was living the dream.
After three years, I made the jump. I sold everything that didn’t fit in my backpack and left New York with my then girlfriend and college roommate to start our own internet company – ChatterPlot. Over the course of 17-months we learned how to successfully fail a company. However, of those months I got to live and work from places like Sri Lanka, Germany, Lithuania and Colombia. I learned that you should know a thing or two about business before you start one, and then after much pain, I quit. Then I started this blog with no clear idea in mind.
By then I found myself in Medellin, Colombia. I was so productivity focused that despite having lived around the world, all I knew how to do was work. I attempted new startups. I tried selling Bluetooth speakers from China on Amazon, I tried selling t-shirts with my illustrations, and I tried building an internet presence writing nonsense articles on this blog. I returned to Lithuania for summer and continued trying, as my savings sunk lower. Nothing took off, but a friend taught me how to hitchhike and that changed my world!
In the Fall of 2016 I left the keys of my Vilnius apartment to AirBnBers and hitchhiked alone through Eastern Europe. That was the first time I felt the travel bug. After two weeks of standing on roadsides with my thumb out, I reached Odessa, Ukraine. Then I got my shit stolen… I had little choice but to write to my old boss and ask for my old job back (Thanks Mark).
Eighteen days later, I packed my backpack and returned to NYC to work as a developer for JackThreads (RIP). I worked until Spring, saved up and bought best travel gear my money could buy, and I left.
April of 2017, I started on a journey with a shoe string budget eager to travel and find a place called home. I walked and hitchhiked for three months from Portugal to Lithuania, where I spent all summer writing, until Lithuania got cold. Then I fled to New Zealand where I hitchhiked for four months. There I realized, home is not a place but a feeling, and if I can’t find it then I will start it.
I returned to Lithuania in the summer of 2018 with the intention to explore my country by bike and search for a place with a community where I could start a home. I want to start a food forest so that in 15 years I will have a fruit tree paradise. I found that place 49 kilometers outside of Vilnius.
As of writing this, I’m spending winter in Hamburg, Germany working as a developer (hopefully for the very last time) and saving for everything it’ll take to buy solar panels, dig a well, build a home, and start a self-sufficient life. I want home to be a retreat for creativity, writing, nature, and god knows what else.
About Maruf Hops Maps
I started this website as a travel blog, but writing about travel destinations didn’t resonate with my hope to free people from a claustrophobic 9-to-5 life and travel. Thus, since I started writing here in early 2016 this website turned into a smorgasbord of random articles about exotic fruits, travel destinations, and stories from traveling. I don’t know what I want from Maruf Hops Maps anymore, so instead, I’ve been writing on Medium about habit building, consciousness, social norms & society, etc… I haven’t been able to make use of this site, so I started writing a book. With it I hope might teach people how to free themselves from a claustrophobic life and encourage them to travel because more people should be able to experience such liberation.