Karen and I can’t remember the last time we spent four months together in one place. Reason — I don’t think we ever have. For the most recent five years we’ve taken at least 20 trips each and every year. To almost every continent, by plane, train, ship, motorcycle, RV, car, Tuk-Tuk or any other means available (remember the camels in Egypt and Mongolia?)
It’s been a bit of cold turkey on the travel front. I tell Karen that we were better together when we were on the road. Better moods, a chirpiness in her voice, something new every day, meeting strangers that became good, if temporary friends, not having to worry about the mundane things of life and — of course — we’re both addicted to the “What’s around the corner?” disease.
We’ve learn to be “better” together in one place in a 600 square foot loft in downtown Los Angeles, which we used to refer to fondly as “Factory Place”. The fondness started to wear off in Month Two. We were forced, literally, to adapt. Karen likes to have the TV on all day, which doesn’t really work when I’m on a zoom call six feet away. Answer: ear phone plugged into the TV. I didn’t really have a home office. Answer: carve out space in the closet (literally). I needed a “Zoom Studio,” since I was doing Zoom calls all day, and no one wants to look at a closet as a backdrop (although I’ve seen worse, a lot worse:) Answer: Get a bookcase, a rack and some mounted posters to hang in front of the clothes. Voila: a studio. Not surprisingly, KR and I are on different biorhythms: I’m early to bed and early to rise; KR is the opposite. Answer: lots of ear plugs and rubber soled shoes.
NGIN’s business has picked up. We’re zooming with our members more often (we have 30 members in 14 countries) and we’re getting more calls from cities to help them build out their innovation ecosystems. All of this is done in front of a Zoom screen, looking out on the alley between Factory Place buildings. I’m writing more business articles and doing more videos. I’m starting to watch my social media audience of all things. These are strange times, indeed.
A lot of good things happened during our four month stay in our shoebox of an apartment. First, I’ve never eaten better in my life as KR had little else to focus on and we had great meal after great meal. I shattered my belief that you have to go to the gym to workout. I started running on our empty streets in place of the treadmill. Much better. I used the stairs to our second floor as a built in StairMaster. Record: 55 times up 15 steps. Weights were easy — there are thousands of videos on YouTube to choose from.
We got to know our neighborhood much better as we took Bogart and Squirt for long walks around the Arts District’s warehouses, historic buildings, closed restaurants/bars, and cold storage units. We barely needed masks as there were few people in a part of the city that is pretty busy during “normal” times, but few people actually live here. We got in the habit of having an eventing cocktail sitting in the patio of one of said closed restaurants. It was good.
For about two months, and then things …
It rapidly went downhill for KR first. She’s a passionate, knowledgable, extremely curious gardener. A couple of pots in front of our door didn’t cut it, no matter how many times I offered to build a garden bench (don’t laugh, I wouldn’t have built it, of course, I would have bought one). Her day job, that as InnKeeper of our BNB in Puerto Vallarta came to a screeching stop. Since we weren’t there, it was hard to supervise decorating or repair projects from afar.
It went downhill for me as well. We had to cancel our long-planned motorcycle trip to Africa. We couldn’t even go on shorter trips. All my races from Formula One to MotoGP were cancelled. Bars closed. Restaurants closed. It got boring wearing shorts and flip flops to work every day.
We needed to do something. We’d been wanting to get south to PV since early April, but could we get across the border, could we gas, could we get all the vehicle permits required, is it safe to go anywhere? We hesitated for about two and a half months.
On June 25th, all four of us climbed into Thor and started the drive south. We took four days rather than our usual three. We “camped” in a parking lot in Yuma and on the street in downtown Mazatlan on the way. Result? No problems at the border, in fact it was probably the easiest crossing we’ve had. They’d completed a long stretch of the main highway,15D, that has been under repair for the last several years, so the highway was better than ever. It’s now been a couple of years since they eliminated Pemex’s monopoly, so we could find Shell and Chevon stations all the way down and for once we could use credit cards. We rolled into PV on a Sunday night, parked the RV in a storage lot outside of town, and by 9PM that night we were having cocktails on the observation deck.
We’ve been in Puerto Vallarta for four weeks now and its a whole new ball game. As in Wow!
It’s impossible to describe the bliss in going from 600 sq. ft. to 5,400 sf. ft. For instance, more often than not, I have to yell “Karen, where are you, up or down?” from my office on the third floor. Each direction offers gardens and all sorts of projects that KR is working on. Simultaneously of course:)
This time at our home is different from all the others. This isn’t a vacation. And there are no guests coming, forcing us to migrate to Thor to wait their stay out. Since we are in middle of three NGIN projects (Riverside, Australia and India), I couldn’t afford to miss a step during the relocation. . Finding reliable, high(er) speed in the El Centro part of Vallarta required getting two 5G lines in the house; one for the first two floors, one specifically to my office on the third. Since its hot and muggy (87 with 60-ish humidity)in Vallarta, I had to close off and then air condition my office. Result is that I have a fully functional office for the first time south of the border. It’s good, very good.
Is it safe in Mexico? Normally, people ask us this because of the drug cartels. Now it’s COVID. Here’s a comparison of relevant data:
Someone once said, “There are three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics!” So, you can make your own conclusions about where its safest.
But the real question is: “Is it safe anywhere?” Not any place I can afford. California is on the verge of a roll back of openness and are some of the other states with significant spikes. When will this end? Answer: we don’t know.
We’re here for the duration.
Here’s what the Lock Down looked like north and south of the border.
All things considered, we’re happy campers. We’ll be here for a while.