I know that we are probably all tired of the emails, news stories, updates on cleaning procedures, etc, etc...AND at the same time can't stop reading, devouring, every bit of information that comes across as reputable.
By no means am I a virus expert, or anything close! What I can offer is over a decade's worth of reading scientific articles with discernment, for both college and my job, plus my experiences of traveling from The Netherlands through Spain from March 5th - 13th, arriving back in the states 24-hours before the travel ban officially was in place. As I begin to write these words, it’s been 60 hours since landing and there is still so much unknown. What follows is my best attempt at sharing the timeline of the shifts in the information available in Europe, as an English speaking American tourist, the ways in which kindness shone through amid the chaos, and the little moments of divine light that kept me grounded and safe during my travels.
The sentiment in the US was less than impressed with the virus. I was aware of the few cases in Italy, and had spend time/money/energy in creating an air-tight travel protocol involving weeks of preparation of vitamins, tinctures, and all the Ayurveda tools in my belt. I was well-stocked on hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, and snacks.
Thursday, March 5th - Saturday March 7th
3 hour layover at JFK, and witness an appropriate amount of masks and precautions. Landed in Amsterdam at 1pm, and Dutch custom officials are quite possibly the nicest I’ve ever encountered. Ate a grounding, potato filled meal, and in bed at a reasonable time, all timezones considered. Spent a rainy, and kinda chilly, few days exploring the less touristy parts of Amsterdam. Roamed through a magical, and creative, artist co-working space, about the size of a NFL stadium, and observed life from their perspective. Markets were bustling, restaurants were packed, and The Red Light District was in full swing. One mask, medical grade, hung around one man’s neck while he stood on the street corner, talking loudly on his phone. Minor issues with a delayed flight, due to strikes in the French Air Traffic Control = extra time in the lush Amsterdam airport.
Saturday March 7th - Tuesday 10th
Arrived late to Malaga, and had a misalignment/realignment with sketchy car rental company, called an audible that allowed for sleeping in, and less movement around the area. I can’t say enough about how beautiful, magical, warm, and kind this city, and the people are, seriously!! Eat delicious, and local, seafood, walk over 10 miles daily, and fall absolutely in love with the southern Spain way of life (chocolate + churros + coffee, for breakfast?! Sign me up!). Watch the sun set over the ocean, the full moon rise over the mountains, and return to city center to witness the Malaga International Womxn’s Day March, which brings me to tears. Arrive back at the AirBNB to messages of love and support from the premiere of the SweatNet IWD video , where I was given the opportunity to share pieces of my story. More tears of joy flow. Wake up to my birthday, a beautiful sunrise, and an empathetic AirBNB host over a laundry malfunction incident. The Uber driver to the airport was jovial, open to practicing my broken, but always improving, Spanish, and dressed to the 9’s, in a fancy suit!
Tuesday, March 10th
Travel by smaller plane in a smaller airport to Barcelona, big airport, for a big city. Meet Ivan, the AirBNB host, who says there were some cases in Madrid, but that no one seemed concerned. Rush to see the sunset in Park Guell. It becomes super clear, real quick, that rushing up all those stairs wasn’t my highest calling. Slowed down, enjoyed the ascent, and observed the park at dusk. Stumble upon empty tourist photo ops, and use the flash for photographic proof of the empty, but magical, park. Eat the most perfect birthday meal of paella, and sangria! Stroll to El Bosc del Fades (Forest of the Fairies), a local bar that has the interior design genius to look like a magical forest filled with fairies, geometric shapes, and other fun surprises! Walk home through mostly empty streets, it was a Tuesday!
Wednesday, March 11th
Last full day of adventure. There is some growing rumbling online about the seriousness of the situation in Italy, and how Spain is actually slightly worse than being broadcast.Visit amazing overlooks, stunning gardens, and feel slightly more aware about tight spaces with lots of people. I contacted the studios/events that I was involved with over the weekend, and informed them of where I had been. A major event venue (100-200 people yoga class) opted to find a sub for me, and the studios felt comfortable with me teaching. I contacted teachers, and got back ups, just in case. Have a beautiful, and perfect, sunset picnic, followed by a stroll through Poble Sec and discover a gem of a restaurant to enjoy one more round of tapas. Start to pack, and prepare for a long day of travel (2 flights = 11 hours, 1 layover = 8 hours), go to bed by 10pm (5pm EST).
Thursday, March 12th
Wake up (7am Barcelona time, and t-minus 11 hours until take off) to multiple messages/texts/phone calls of concern for ability to leave the country, and return to the US. Based on the initial announcements, no one will be allowed back in the country by Friday 11:59pm. Read online reports of toilet paper hoarding, school closings, and potential for screenings/quarantine upon arriving back in the US. Do research, find out that American citizens are safe to renter, and message those who are concerned the travel plans. Ivan returns at 11:58am, out of breath, after running up 5 flights of pretty serious stairs. He reports that the store shelves are emptying out, there are rumors of lockdown coming from the government, and the intense travel ban in the US. Other Airbnb tenants had rushed to the airport, and been unsuccessful in changing their flights to an earlier time. Spend the last few hours in Barcelona hiding out in well ventilated coffee shops, with new, strict rules of engagement (no cash accepted, windows will remain open, no leaving napkins on the tables, etc). Found the most perfect vegan restaurant. Power up with the greenest of the green juices, honey + lemon + ginger shots, and all.the.damn.veggies.
On the Uber ride, set intentions: "no matter what happens, trust the divine timing of the airlines, and that all people were doing their best to get home, do their job, and keep themselves healthy and safe, and to always respond with kindness and respect." The Uber driver went out of his way to ensure we arrived at the correct terminal; I’m talking parked the car, threw on his hazards to run towards an airport employee, frantically waving his hands, and found a map to bring back to the car. Arrive at the Barcelona airport to a mostly empty terminal, security checkpoint, and the most friendly and kind staff. The staff was prepared to explain the differing situations based on the passport, and final destination. The flight was directly to JFK, which was one of the designated screening airports. I felt safe, assuming there would be measures in place to keep everyone safe.
Board the plane to EVERYONE fiercely cleaning the airport with sets of wipes, some in masks, most not. The plane had at least 150+ people in it, and there was room for all to spread out. Norweign Air prides itself on hospital grade HVAC air filters, I truly believe that flight was one of the cleanest places to be in the world. Arrive in NYC at 10pm EST. It takes less than 10 minutes to get through customs, there were zero questions asked of me, the automated screens were set up for maximum efficiency. I had bought my mom some seeds from Holland, and needed to declare them, I was never asked to open my bag. Eat Dunkin Donuts + cold brew coffee, because who is sleeping in the airport?! Post up in a spot with a plug, and dig deep into researching what is actually happening in the world. I read it all. Complaints, conspiracy theories, science, what real, live people in Italy/China/South Korea were saying.
Friday, March 13th
3:30am - Security opens up, and move to a more open area within the terminal to ride out the last few hours.
Board the plane, land, and Uber home. Oil, shower, and clean up. Sage my entire apartment, suitcase, and life. Asleep.
1pm - wake up to multiple missed phone calls, and messages from studios/managers/family. Have the tough conversations, and fully commit to self-quarantine, and no teaching public classes. Sanitizer wipe assault to my suitcase, shoes, and life.
6pm - Load up what life I think I may need for the 1-2 weeks, and head to my partner’s apartment (better amenities + outside porch) to prepare for the unknown.
9pm - so done with today, and time to sleep.
As I finish up these words, it’s now Monday, March 16th and the whole world has changed. The month of March has been cancelled, and April is looking real suspect. So many industries are being rocked by the uncertainty; service, health & wellness, medical, etc, the list is endless. I will take just one moment to be selfish about the direct impact, and then zoom back out, promise! My income is solely based on my ability to show up in person, and it’s as though I’ve been rendered limbless in a fight I didn’t see coming. Even without my recent travels, many studios have closed or reduced classes/class size, and my super busy event calendar has been wiped clean with cancellations and opportunities. I spent the last 8 months planning for this exact moment, and suddenly all my work has vanished. <end scene, zoom out>
My decision to self-quarantine came from a place of service, of higher calling. The “facts” that are available to the public are changing rapidly, with a lot of conjecture, hitting “share” before reading with discernment, and the truth is we simply just don’t know everything. Phrases like “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” are all over the place, and yet, many people are still not ready to believe all this is actually happening, or worth changing behavoir. Despite warnings, several local bars posted photos/videos of “packed houses”. The last place I recommend being is in a packed house, full of people with lowered immune systems, morals, and decency. With so much recklessness, misinformation, and fast-paced broad-sweeping changes that have been occurring, why not do everything we can to prevent anything worse?!
Now onto more magic, and heart fluffy stuff! While the threat is real, the ways in which we choose to act can be shifted, which in turn has the power to shift the whole trajectory. Research from Princeton and The Peace Intention Experiment, found the threshold for number of people who need to be meditating to create a shift, based on the population. The formula: √1% of the population….for those of you not into doing math, that’s just 315 people needed in the whole state of NC to create a SHIFT! Now the trick, is that we all have to be on the same vibration, sending the same types of thoughts to the place. So in this example, all 315 could be meditating for the state of NC to be washed in a wave of peace, or joy, or rid of a virus, perhaps…..my dear friend, Katie Sutton has done just that thing! Check this LIVE meditation that she recorded today at 12:30pm, and send it forward, outward, and diagonal-ward!
My plan? To catch up on missed Ayurveda school videos, offer online/virtual options, drop my addiction to “business”, and continue to take deep breaths while practicing trust, patience, and love. And of course the occasional pause for a dance party….