interview

My Conversation with Nova

Nova and her sister kept coming back for days, looking out to the shore. They’ve been waiting for anybody to take them across the river to the smaller villages. Compared to her year-long hitchhiking expedition prior, Papua was just a taste. “Raja Ampat Archipelago is one of the best dive places in the world, and we wanted to see why. People weren’t used to visitors asking for a free boat,” she says.“We were desperate, and finally, there was a boat running by a local homestay on a small island 1 hour away. We were excited but when we arrived it was 4pm and low tide. The guy said, “we can see the village… ok you can jump off here because I can’t drop you at the dock in the village. Just walk and follow the people over there.”

With no alternatives, Nova and her sister got out of the boat and did just that. They discovered a path paved with seaweed, and they followed it to reach the village. The locals welcomed them and brought them fishing. “The way they fished was following birds that were circling over the water. And they fish with string wrapped around their hands. When I caught my first fish, it pulled very hard and I almost fell out of the boat. We grilled it for dinner.”

At Farely's East in Oakland, CA.

At Farely's East in Oakland, CA.

But she’s never in a place for too long. I caught up with Nova Togatorop at Farley’s East in Oakland, California to hear the rest of her stories.

Hand-drawn map of her travels.

Hand-drawn map of her travels.

Only in her mid-twenties, Nova has a deep appreciation for the world and an innate curiosity she genuinely seeks to satisfy. Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, she was only 24 when she hitchhiked alone from Nepal to Turkey. A year later, she has found a great way to use her camera as a lens for other people to see what she’s learned.

“I met my husband when I was hitchhiking in Turkey. I never thought I would meet someone but that time I felt like I could talk about everything with someone like him.” He was also the one who encouraged her to share her photos and stories. “He said I didn’t see my own potential so he really pushed me hard and even helped me build my website,” she says.

Nova's pieces framed in a gallery.

Nova's pieces framed in a gallery.

“Traveling brought me into photography. I never thought I’d be an artist, I just wanted to document my travels and show them to my family members, the next generation. Photos are powerful and shows personal life- sometimes I don’t need to explain the stories behind the photos, but people can use their imagination.”

After our chat, she tells me that she will be moving to Morocco in less than two weeks time. “I’m in a hurry to sell my stuff,” she laughs. She really is never in a place for too long.