Long stretches of sandy white beaches, welcoming turquoise water lapping gently at the shore... and a lazy turtle browsing in the Sea Grass in the quiet waters. The beach is strangely silent though, for this time of year, bringing an eerie peace down on us all. It is a peace that is riddled with uncertainty - the tensions can be felt like a strong undercurrent pulling us all along into the unknown.
Coronavirus crept stealthily along in the early days, like a thief in the night. We would hear of a flight to Cancun that had been unusually empty, or hotels that had a few cancellations in the beginning. In those days, no one was sure of what was really happening. As the epidemic turned into a pandemic, what began as a developing story has turned into a full-blown scene from a movie. It feels surreal.
As the cancellations began to trickle in, we watched in silence. Thanks to Covid-19, the trickle became an onslaught within a matter of days. More and more people chose to self-isolate with a family, choosing their health over their holidays, which is the wisest thing to do in these uncertain times. Without your health, you have nothing.
The current situation in Mexico, as a whole, is a few weeks behind the rest of the World. So the number of cases here are still relatively low if you consider the population size (over 120 million people live here), but that doesn't allow for complacency. If we look at the speed with which this pandemic took over countries and brought them to their knees, it shows us that caution is best exercised until we have slowed the spread. And until we understand fully what we are dealing with.
Mexico has not as yet shut its borders, but many international flights have been cancelled anyway. Even though it could be technically possible to get to Mexico and then take a flight to Cancun, unless you knew exactly where you were going and had confirmed within hours that your hotel is still open, you may find yourself in trouble.
Hotel occupancy along the Riviera Maya just a few short weeks ago was at 90%. Today it is below 10%. Because of the sudden decline in occupancy, many hotels have been forced to shut their doors for the foreseeable future. This has had a knock-on effect on pubs, bars and restaurants who are struggling without their usual number of patrons, and they too have had to close. Even some of the local stores have been hard hit, which means that there's a rise in unemployment during what is meant to be the busiest time of year. All in all, it isn't a great time for a holiday.
As you know, we at Blue Experience Diving are lucky enough to be living the dream under normal everyday circumstances. Our services include diving tours and diving courses, and we love sharing the beauty of our local surrounds with likeminded people. To keep your spirits up (and ours too!), here is a brief overview of what we love about our job!
Tucked between the amazing Mayan ruins of Tulum on one side and the bustling town of Playa del Carmen on the other, you will find us right at the heart of the Riviera Maya: Akumal. Only a convenient hour away from the airport at Cancun, we are right in the midst of the second largest barrier reef in the World! This allows us a glimpse of the fascinating life under water along canyons and coral formations. We often get to dive alongside turtles, morays and lion fish (amongst others) and we love to share this magical experience with our guests; regardless of whether they are experienced divers or just learning the joy of the craft for the first time.
This coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us along Playa del Carmen and Akumal; so much so that all of our bookings for the next few months have been cancelled. Because of the closing of most hotels, we in turn don't have any guests to take diving. It is a heart-breaking turn of events - especially as this comes at the peak of our season - but unfortunately we have no control over the events unfolding across the world. Let's try to stay upbeat and positive about it, and remember, - a time when this will be history, - is coming.
Since we are almost all currently 'enjoying' a compulsory staycation, we might as well make the most of it. Though we are missing our guest divers terribly (have we mentioned that already?!), we know this is the right course of action for the moment. No one wants to take the coronavirus scuba diving! It doesn't make it any easier though, but we will be holding the fort until this has passed. It may even give us all a greater appreciation for when times are good. I bet none of us ever expected anything like this to happen, it's like a far-fetched movie script that just seems unreal.
The biggest question is, what do we do with all this free time that we so unexpectedly have now? We want to rest, but we also want to be productive, like so many do. There have been so many great suggestions as to what to do to occupy yourself during this time, and I hope that you are doing exactly what you need to be at this time, whether it's figuring out how to solve Rubik's cube or how to cut hair.
For us - we are keeping ourselves busy catching up on all the little things that seem to always need doing. The shop is being given a thorough deep clean through this time, and we are finding time to focus on our online presence too. Keep an eye on our social media pages to stay up to date with what is new, and also just to remind you that we will be there when this is over.
To keep our appetites whetted and our passion ignited in these restrictive times, we thought we would give you a little hint of things to do before we can all get back to normal. Worrying about how to shop safely for coronavirus can be exhausting, so here's a fun list :
As all good things must come to an end, bad times have to as well. Let's not lose sight of all we still have to experience, and let's truly try to stand together to combat this. Lend a hand where you can, do the best that you can do under the circumstances; and remember to be kind to yourself. This is a scary time for us all but we can get through it.
We will be waiting for you on the other side of this Covid-19 pandemic, and we can't wait to welcome you with open arms...when social distancing is a thing of the past!