When we set off in search of a life less ordinary two years ago, this is not what we were looking for. We never imagined anything like a worldwide pandemic was just around the corner. We tried to prepare for as many eventualities as we could think of before we departed, but this was certainly not one of them. Like millions of others all over the world, we're taking an “isolation vacation” for the foreseeable future and I thought I should probably take a break in recounting our travels to let those who are interested know where we're at these days.
We arrived here into Puerto Vallarta in mid January, having crossed the Sea of Cortez and spending a few weeks in Mazatlan. We didn't plan to be here for so long but as we have come to expect, our life is such that plans change on a whim and we go (or not) where life takes us. I traveled to Miami for a weekend to renew my visa and meet up with Alexandra. We've had a few friends come down to visit, which was fabulous. We've done some touring around too and two weeks ago when there were zero cases here (or so we were told) we got on a plane to Zihuatanejo for the International Guitar Festival. We spent the week there all over the town in all sorts of bars and at a different concert every night. Who knows how many people we crossed paths with there. Our trip back had us stopping in Mexico City overnight before getting back to PV, by which time news was starting to trickle in about positive cases in Mexico.
We rented a car the next day to go shopping. We keep about 30 days of food and supplies onboard at all times, so it was really only fresh food we needed. The stores are full of everything here, no panic buying or empty shelves. Just business as usual. We bought what we needed and headed back to the boat, deciding to self-isolate based on the horrific situations we saw in the rest of the world.
The virus hasn't really hit here yet. Well what I should say is that it's here, but we have no real idea of numbers. Last week we heard that of 9000 tests kits in the country, only 2000 had been used. Until 2 days ago, it was life as usual here with most people completely unconcerned and not planning on isolating at all. Defiant tourists loudly proclaimed their vacation wasn't going to be ruined by a “damn cough” as they sipped their lattes at Starbucks. Business as usual for all the restaurants around town. Party boats of hundreds of people heading out to the islands. Today is a different story. Local government is shutting down schools, nightclubs and gyms. Large gatherings like concerts and sports are banned and restaurants must limit their tables so there's 6 feet distance between them. Even the small local markets, so vital for the people here have closed. But the problem is, the axe is about to fall on Mexico and the virus is about to explode, but the majority of people here are in no position to self-isolate. If they don't work, they don't eat. There is no meaningful welfare to fall back on. Almost 50% of the population live in poverty, which is defined as about $2 USD a day. There is a Universal pension for elderly people, they get about $50 USD every two months. So tourism, and the tips it brings in, is literally the bread and butter for most people who live here, and without it they will suffer greatly. The desperation is palpable.
Thank you Al Gore, for inventing the internet so we can speak with our parents and children daily. The world is a small place these days and our family is spread from the Americas to the Caribbean to the Antipodes. Until now we were able to hop a plane wherever we were in the world and in 24 hours, give or take, be back in Australia with all the familiarity and love of “home” or back in the US with family there. It seems much bigger now because we don't have that option today. Even if we could get back we'd be quarantined and considering our recent travels, we don't know our own status.
Some have asked why we haven't sailed out to a remote anchorage to wait things out. We're fully self sufficient and could stay out for at least a month, probably longer if need be. We discussed it at length but finally decided to stay where we are. We have grocery stores, medical services should we become ill and if we needed to travel, an airport. If we left there's no guarantee we could get back in somewhere if the ports are closed.
So for now, we're hunkered down here at the marina and life goes on. Daz is still working and I'm usually in the galley faffing about with a new recipe. We'll support our lovely dock workers by having them continue to take care of the boat (while keeping our distance of course) so they still have some money coming in. If we can work out a way to have fresh veg delivered to us by the market vendors, we'll do so as we'd like to support them as much possible too. It's the least we can do for their abundant kindness to us. We thought we might learn how to play Cribbage or Pinochle. I have a list of books I haven't read yet and Daz has all the parts for finishing up the watermaker installation, so we have plenty to keep us occupied for a while.
We hope you find peace, compassion and kindness amongst the chaos of what life has become.