Things That Matter

Mexico’s Version Of Burning Man Became A COVID-19 Super-Spreader Event Thanks To U.S. Tourists

Travelers from the U.S. seem to think that they’re exempt from following CDC guidelines once they’re outside of the country. Case in point: a recent arts and music festival that took place in Tulum – the hipster destination an hour south of Cancun.

Thousands of the U.S. tourists arrived to the small beach town to party at the Art With Me festival despite the fact we’re in the throes of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yes, it’s true that young people are less likely to become hospitalized or die from COVID-19 infection. However, each of us, regardless of age, have a personal responsibility to be considerate of our more vulnerable neighbors – not to mention the locals at the destinations we’re choosing to visit.

Mexico’s Art With Me festival has been deemed a super-spreader event putting at risk the health of locals.

Mexico’s annual Art With me festival – which supposedly combines wellness, cultural immersion, and electronic music – in Tulum is billed as Mexico’s Burning Man. It’s designed to “inspire and activate attendees,” and has now been deemed a super-spreader event after at least 17 attendees tested positive for COVID-19 in the weeks following the festival.

Art With Me took place from November 11-15 and now less than a month later, doctors in the U.S. are noting an uptick in cases related to the four-day festival.

“I would say that 60-70 percent of my positives in the last couple weeks in New York City have been a direct result of either people coming back from Art With Me or who have been directly exposed to someone who attended Art With Me,” said Eleonora Walczak, founder of the private COVID care and testing company Checkmate Health Strategies, in a statement to the Daily Beast. “And I test in Miami as well, and my testers there tell me that a lot of their positives are people coming back from Art With Me.”

Videos of mask-less partygoers started making their rounds on social media.

Although it seems like many attendees tried to conceal their visit to the festival, in the days following the event videos started popping up on social media.

In videos on Facebook and YouTube, hundreds of maskless attendees can be seen dancing and not observing social distancing guidelines. One video refers to the partygoers as “gringos mensos” or “gringo idiots,” so it’s safe to say that the festival didn’t have the blessing of all locals.

The event has put the health of local Mexicans at increased risk as Mexico enters its deadliest phase of the pandemic yet.

Credit: ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images

COVID-19 has devastated Mexico. In terms of official infections, it appears that Mexico is a far better place than the U.S., but those numbers are deceiving as Mexico has one of the lowest testing rates in the world.

Even taking that low testing rate into account, the virus has infected more than 1.2 million people and killed over 110,000 – giving Mexico the highest case-fatality rate in the world at 9.2 percent, according to Johns Hopkins University.

But those grim numbers haven’t stopped the partying in Tulum.

Tourists, primarily from the United States, Europe, and South America, have descended on the beachy municipality in groups to dine, dance, and flout COVID restrictions. Tourists’ pandemic partying in Tulum has angered locals, who feel their behavior is recklessly endangering the community, and many believe that festivals like this may end up forcing the community to the brink of a public health disaster.

And despite the risk, another music festival is soon planned to take place in the same town.

Just as locals and health officials are starting to recognize the impact that Art With Me had, locals in Tulum are bracing for even more trouble: a more than two-week-long music festival starting on New Year’s Eve, dubbed Zamna.

The electronic music festival is dubbed as a place where “indigenous culture and electronic music unite” but it will end up having a hugely negative impact on the local community – which is made up largely of Indigenous Mexicans – in terms of COVID-19 infections.

Although young folks are less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID, they may be the demographic most responsible for spreading the virus right now—and delaying a return to normalcy.

“Are they on a different planet than the rest of us and don’t realize there’s a pandemic going on?” Dr. Timothy Brewer, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Medicine, told The Daily Beast. “In the country as a whole, 18- to 49-year-olds are driving this pandemic. 

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Have A Virtual Hot Date? Here’s How To Make Sure It Doesn’t Suck

Culture

Have A Virtual Hot Date? Here’s How To Make Sure It Doesn’t Suck

MixMedia / Getty Images

For the single introverts among us, lockdown might seem like the perfect opportunity to re-charge our social batteries and have some much needed alone-time. But no, thanks to the wonders of technology and just how damn adaptable human beings are, virtual dating has totally become a thing. 

For better or for worse, people are dating just as much as ever – albeit through a screen. So if you’re using dating apps during lockdown, arranging video dates and looking for virtual date ideas, here’s a handy guide on how to stay safe and how to ace virtual dating.

Make a damn effort

Act as if the date was in person and get ready accordingly. Shower if you haven’t already that day — it’ll make you feel a lot better — and put on your favorite outfit. Even if it’s not seasonally appropriate, who cares? Wear the sundress pushed all the way back in your closet. Put on makeup if that’s your thing, and do your hair. 

It makes all the difference not only in how you present yourself but by how you perceive yourself. You’ll feel better on the date, more like your “usual” self. 

Figure out your camera setup beforehand

Pro-tip: Do all this the day before, or at least an hour before, the date starts. That way you’re not scrambling and worrying about your angles. Decide if you’re going to use your phone or computer. Put it at eye-level, if possible. If you’re using a laptop, you can place it on a stack of books, but you can also DIY it by leaning your phone against your laptop screen (which can have its own book stack setup) or anything else you can find. 

And…lighting…lighting….lighting! Set yourself up with some good, flattering lighting before you start the call. Find a place that’s the most flattering in your house. Be sure you’re not backlit by a window which can wash out your face.

Simulate real date ideas

Credit: Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Although you obviously can’t “grab a drink” together, you can simulate that. Text before the date and decide if you’ll be drinking wine, coffee, or eating dinner “together.” You can even do a twist on “Netflix and chill,” simultaneously using Netflix’s “party” function; if you go that route, choose something campy or that you’ve both seen before so you can chat easily during it.

Trust your instincts

“A nip slip may not be appropriate for a date with a new person,” Moraya DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist, joked to Refinery 29. “It’s modern times, so I think there will be the temptation for people to be really bold and ask about FaceTime sex. People are horny and trapped in their houses. On one hand, that’s okay, but on the other, you’re risking someone taking screenshots,” she cautions. “Listen to your intuition and don’t do something you don’t feel comfortable with.”

She adds that you shouldn’t take the call from bed, because “you’re immediately sending all these other signals unintentionally.” Generally, she says you should conduct the date as you would in person.

Expect awkwardness to happen, because it will happen

Credit: Peter Dazely / Getty Images

Awkwardness isn’t necessarily a bad thing and, when dating is involved, it’s inevitable. First dates in real life have their own clumsy moments, so don’t beat yourself up if your camera freezes for a moment, or if you talk over the other person. It’s going to happen! Just laugh about it and move on.

Stay safe and comfortable

Although it may seem like common sense, being cooped up inside for so long has left many of us lacking some of the most basic people skills. Remember to not give out any of your personal details – think home address and bank details – and watch out for any suspicious links that might come through in the chat.

Before the date, it’s also a good idea to do some recon on your date’s social media to make sure they are who they say they are. Also, don’t show your face on camera if they’re not showing theirs, that’s a serious red flag.

And lastly, know that you can end the date whenever you want to. You don’t owe anybody anything and it’s totally fine if you’re feeling uncomfortable or in danger to just end the call. But remember, basic dating etiquete also still remains so don’t just close your computer screen without saying goodbye because you’re just not feeling the vibe.

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A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Culture

A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Jon G. Fuller / VW PICS / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It is important to be a responsible tourist. This means following rules, acting responsibly, and not violating sacred places. That is something one tourist learned the hard way when she climbed the Pyramid of Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá.

Here’s the video of a tourist running down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkán.

The Pyramid of Kukulkán is one of the most iconic examples of Pre-Hispanic architecture and culture in Mesoamerica. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. In 2017, more than 2 million visitors descended on the site.

Of course, #LadyKukulkan started to trend on Twitter.

You know that Twitter was ready to start calling out this woman for her actions. According to Yucatán Expat Life Magazine, the woman was there to honor her husband’s dying wish. The woman, identified as a tourist from Tijuana, wanted to spread her husband’s ashes on the top of the pyramid, which it seems that she did.

The video was a moment for Mexican Twitter.

Not only was she arrested by security when she descended, but the crowd was also clearly against her. Like, what was she even thinking? It isn’t like the pyramid is crawling with tourists all over it. She was the only person climbing the pyramid, which is federally owned and cared for.

The story is already sparking ideas for other people when they die.

“Me: (to my parents) Have you read about #ladykukulkan?
My Dad: Yes! (to my mom) When I die, I want you to scatter my ashes in the National Palace so they call you “Lady Palace,” sounds better, no?” wrote @hania_jh on Twitter.

READ: Mexico’s Version Of Burning Man Became A COVID-19 Super-Spreader Event Thanks To U.S. Tourists

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