Happy Holidays lovely humans! I hope you’re doing well considering the current state of the world. I’m continuing to do my best to stay focused, optimistic, and grounded, which has been one hell of a job! I’ve been wanting to share fresh new content. But it doesn’t feel right glossing over the enormous elephant that is COVID.
I’m going to give you an update on how I’m dealing with this pandemic. I want to warn you that reading this could be emotionally taxing. We’re all trying to figure out how to balance our emotions and energy. I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m dumping my anxieties onto them. So this is an Emotional Trigger Warning – proceed at your own risk.
Since my move to Mexico I’ve prioritized my mental and emotional health. During the beginning of this pandemic I was hit hard financially and had very few choices. So it’s been imperative for me to recenter myself and focus on financial and emotional stability.
I’ve maintained pretty strict social distancing practices throughout the year, and to be honest it’s been both difficult and lonely. Since my move to Mexico I’ve been able to connect with a few friends. I’ve made friends aware of my position with safety and social distancing. I generally feel like the people in my life think they are doing the best they can to balance living life with being safe. I’ve recently realized that I prioritize being safe over everything. I’ve been completely isolated for a couple weeks now. I’m finding it difficult to figure out who to allow in my pod.
In the last month I’ve been directly exposed to Covid-19 while dating a photographer. Most of his clients are tourists in town for vacation and want to get snapped tanning their cheeks on the beach. One of his clients called him a couple weeks after their shoot in Tulum to tell him that she tested positive for COVID. She said she took a test before she visited Mexico and was negative but tested positive when she returned from her trip. I was grateful that he contacted me after we ended things to let me know that I was exposed.
With free testing in the U.S. more American’s are using it as a hall pass to travel and end up passing COVID along to those less fortunate. Getting a COVID test in Mexico is expensive at nearly $300 a test and that’s if you can find a decent testing center. The sad reality is that even if we both had symptoms, neither one of us could afford to take the test here.
Some say that it’s important for tourism that people continue to travel. But my question is, at what risk? Is the health of a country worth the risk? According to the Mexican government it is. Tourism was formally declared an “essential” service in Quintana Roo, where Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cancun are located. The number of American tourists visiting the state has increased by 23 percent in one year! About 100 flights from the U.S. land in Quintana Roo every day.
The Mexican borders have remained open and there are currently over 1 million reported COVID cases in the country. 15,500 of those cases are in Quintana Roo, where I live. Over 100,000 people have died from COVID in Mexico. According to official statistics 2,000 people have died from COVID in Quintana Roo. Experts say that the number is probably much higher because government officials are down playing the impact.
Across Mexico, tourism generates about 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. In the first few months of the pandemic, Quintana Roo lost more than 100,000 jobs in the tourism sector, that’s more than 80 percent of the state’s revenue.
So it might not surprise you to hear that the Tulum government granted permission to the organizers of the Art With Me Festival to host more than 1,200 traveling guests. From November 11-15 Tulum hosted hundreds of party people many of which left as superspreaders.
Eleonora Walczak, the founder of Checkmate Health Strategies, a private COVID care and testing company told the Daily Beast “I would say that 60-70 percent of my positives in the last couple weeks in New York City have been a direct result of either people coming back from Art With Me, or who have been directly exposed to someone who attended Art With Me. And I test in Miami as well, and my testers there tell me that a lot of their positives are people coming back from Art With Me.”
Antonio Romero, an administrator at Hospital de Tulum told the Daily Beast that that they almost exclusively treat tourists who’ve contracted COVID. He says that the hospital typically receives about two to three American tourists a day with COVID, with the majority of their patients coming from other South American countries like Argentina and Chile.
I recently wrote about being invited on a press trip here in Mexico. Another international travel blogger living in Mexico was trying to pivot into becoming an influencer marketer and invited me. Initially it sounded like a dream, I’d get to visit a beautiful surfing village, meet other travelers and I wouldn’t have to pay for it! But as soon as I started asking questions about the itinerary and COVID safety precautions it became crystal clear that I wouldn’t be going.
A week before the press trip someone planning to attend tested positive for COVID. She had met up with a few other people going on the trip. She obviously pulled out of the trip and in the end. Each person who attended the press trip was COVID tested upon arrival. But I can tell you with certainty, that wasn’t the plan initially and the end result would have been devastating for the hosting village.
Although I’ve done my best to social distance I recently found out the my dentist tested positive for Covid-19. It had been a few weeks since I got some dental work done. I requested that he email me the receipt. After a few days I reached out again because I hadn’t received it.He explained that he’d tested positive for COVID and getting to his computer took a lot of energy. I sent him words of encouragement and understanding, but to this day I think about the fact that he was sneezing the last time I was in his office.
Since then a handful of friend in the U.S. have tested positive. Two of my friends have had family members die from this virus. This is no joke. I’m blessed with being able to see so many different perspectives. I often speak with my friends abroad to get a better awareness of how other countries are handling this pandemic.
In the Cayman Islands a couple was recently sentenced to 4 months in prison for breaking the countries quarantine rules. Skylar Mack, an 18 year-old Loganville, Georgia resident flew into the Cayman Islands to watch her local boyfriend participate in a contest. After two days she removed her tracking bracelet breaking the island’s strict 14 day quarantine requirement. Should other countries respond similarly?
If you’ve read this far you won’t be shocked to hear that I’ll be spending this Christmas alone. It will be the first time I’m completely alone during the holiday and I’m not gonna lie, it’s a bummer. I’m usually abroad during the holiday season, but I always find others to spend Christmas with. Part of me feels a sense of responsibility to continue the tradition of being with friends. But tradition looks different this year.
Since my move I’ve learned to create a boundary around seeing friends and family visiting from abroad. I’ve had to pass on meeting up with a few friends I haven’t seen in at least a year. My brother and sister told me this week they are coming to Mexico for New Years and asked to see me. I explained my comfort level and that I wouldn’t see them while they are here and asked that they please be safe.
So I’m asking the same of you. Please be safe this holiday season! Take some time to create some new traditions. I’ll be sharing one with you later this week! It’s ok to be bummed that things are different this year. It’s also important to take a moment to acknowledge the things that have remained the same. What is one constant that you are thankful for this year?
Something thing you can depend on is my love for you. I may or may not know you, but I love you! You are important to me and so is your safety. So I’m sending you all the well wishing and holiday positivity. Along with an invitation to Register here for my Virtual New Years Eve Fiesta! If you’re single and living solo like me, this event is perfect for you!