By now you may have figured out that we are not in Hudson, NY; not in Milan, Italy and not in California. In other words, we are not sheltering in place in any of the locations that we typically might call home. As I continue to teach virtual Vinyasa classes with a beautiful backdrop of blue skies and palm trees, many have asked, where are you? And how did you end up there? So, here is a post about how we hit the jackpot of backdrops as we shelter in place under lock down in our friends currently closed hotel in Tulum, Mexico.
The story starts in mid-February in Mexico, where we were hosting perhaps our one and only Escape of the year, in Todos Santos. While there the news broke of Covid-19 in Italy. As some of you may know, Francesco is Italian and travels on an Italian passport. His mother, sister, brother and their families all live in Milan, along with many of our close friends. From Todos Santos we were headed to New York, with a quick stop in Mexico City for a few days along the way. The situation in Italy escalated almost overnight and while still deeply in denial of the impact this virus could and eventually would have, the fact that it was now impacting our family and friends in Italy surely hit home. It then became clear that Francesco would not be allowed back into the United States without much difficulty, so from Mexico City he re-routed to Tulum, to visit our dear friends who own a lovely boutique hotel and restaurant on the beach called Posada Margherita. I headed to Hudson, NY with the idea that I would spend some time at home after being away since December, take some meeting in NYC and then travel to meet him in a few weeks’ time. Clearly, life had other things in store for us.
I only ended up being in Hudson for a few days before it became very clear that there was no denying the impact the virus would have on the travel business, and then a few more days to realize that the impact would be even more far reaching, affecting all businesses and walks of life. It also become very clear that taking any meetings in NYC would be an unnecessary risk and that if I wanted to weather the storm in Mexico with Francesco by my side, I needed to pack my bags and get on a plane immediately before travel was restricted. So, I did just that. Within a matter of 24 hours I had cancelled all of my appointments in NYC, booked a one way ticket and packed my bags. Next stop, Mexico.
Upon my arrival in Mexico the impact of the virus was not felt or seen. Hotels and restaurants were full, and all appeared as a normal early March in Tulum. In other words, it felt like a vacation. But Francesco and I were very alert to the situation, especially since we were receiving daily updates from our friends and family in Italy, so we did our best to keep social distance and stay away from the crowds. Within one week of my arrival the beach took a whole different turn. Sheltering in place went in to affect throughout the area; the US government raised its’ International Travel Warning to Level 4 and I received email updates from the State Department suggesting I return home immediately or be prepared to stay in Mexico indefinitely.
And then there was the moment when all of us here on the beach HAD to make a decision. Return home, if even possible, or stay put, indefinitely. Even a beautiful beach can feel like a prison if you are not allowed to leave so many cleared out, making their way back home. The staff here are primarily locals, quite a few who moved onto the property with their families when the lock down went in to place so that they could continue to earn an income and help with the functioning of the hotel, for although closed, it was now full of people who, like us, made a decision to stay instead of return home. We have now all been on official lock down together since March 21, some of us, even longer, but that was the date we all had to decide- should I stay, or should I go. Those of us who are here made a decision to stay, a commitment to not come and go and to limit who would do the shopping, following specific rules in the process.
And, so here we now all ‘live’.
Many people have asked what our new normal looks like. And while I have no experience of every having lived in a commune, from what I gather, it might resemble just that. Anja and Fede cook; Daria home schools the children; we all play with them in-between; I teach and organize exercise classes; Karen grocery shops on Tuesdays, Anja on Saturday’s and Fede, if needed, in between. Ale and Fede keep staff such as Ana, Lorenzo, Seba, Roberto, Lucien and Sara busy with projects and responsibilities.
Each day at sunset many of the staff play volleyball on the beach; we all try to sneak walks in when the beach police are not paying attention; and some even try to get away with kite surfing. I teach yoga four times a week and stream Pilates and fitness classes for the group in between teaching. We each find our solo space throughout the day to work on our personal projects and responsibilities but typically come together in the evening to enjoy dinner together.
I’m in bed early; others play cards, and one night a week Daria hosts movie night with a projector on the beach.
I’ve been off the property (aside from walking on the beach) once in the past 6 weeks, to go to the bank. Only one person is allowed into a car or store at a time; essential businesses are open, all else is closed and we need special paperwork to get back to the beach road if and when we do leave.
We are completely aware that our lock down is easy compared to most. We all know we hit the jackpot of backdrops to undergo this unrecognizable time. The beauty of nature, the sound of the sea, the ability to come together with friends each day all have made this a much softer lock down than most. And while its’ much easier to see the silver linings when you have space, your basic needs are met and you are not be pulled in every direction by the demands of home schooling and taking care of your family, the stages of grief, the economic reality and the impact on humanity are universal. We too have tough days, up and downs; we worry about our family and friends, our future; but we have also been afforded a pause that we never would have allowed ourselves otherwise. I continue to find comfort is coming together as a virtual community through movement and I continue to contemplate the wise words of Dave Hollis, “In the rush to return to normal use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.”
As for how long we will stay down here, only time will tell. Some say this part of Mexico has been lucky as it has been spared from the huge impact of the virus; others say the virus already passed through here in December and January and still others say the worst is yet to come for the region. We are prepared to stay here as long as necessary in an effort to stay healthy and protect the health of our loved ones. And while we are eager to give family and friends in the United States, Italy and beyond a giant hug, to share moments and create memories in person, we are committed to making the most of the present moment and to doing our part to stay home and stay healthy.
With Gratitude xoxo