Namaste! I’m Karlie- a certified educator and yoga instructor. In 2018 I left my hometown in the midwest USA to pursue my dream of exploring the world. Where I first spent a year in Saigon, Vietnam teaching kindergarten. Afterwards, I decided to shift my direction in order to continue travelling full time as I follow my passion for yoga and holistic health. I also love to write and to share my experiences while travelling, and this is how my blog- Exploring Educator was born. Where I discuss topics related to travel, holistic health, conservation, and education.
How did you get stuck?
I have been travelling in India since January, since then I received my yoga teacher training in Rishikesh and spent a few weeks in Rajasthan. I planned to visit Goa before leaving to travel to various other countries in Southeast Asia while teaching yoga. However, when I arrived at Goa on the 19th, I heard the news that India will be shutting their borders on the 22nd. Which obliterated my plans for future travel. Instead of left with the decision to go back home to the US or to wait things out in India. This was a very hard choice for me to make, and I was completely torn. On one hand, I wanted to stay as I had just begun my 1+ year journey of travelling, last-minute flights back were extremely expensive, and I would be returning to the centre of the pandemic as the US had the highest number of cases at the time. On the other side, I had no family in India if I needed support, the medical care system here is not ideal by any means, and I had no idea what to expect from the lockdown in India. I then received notification that my flight home would be covered under my travel insurance. Therefore, at the time I decided the most logical option would be to go home. However, the day of my flight it was cancelled and the borders were shut the next day. This is how I found myself stuck in India in the middle of a global pandemic- something I thought I would never say.
What were the problems you faced so far?
When the lockdown first started, I faced several obstacles. At the beginning of quarantine, I was kicked out of two different accommodations, as it was a “risk” to house foreigners. At one point I was homeless wandering the streets with a few other travellers desperately looking for a place that would help us. After finally finding a place to stay, our next issue was food. For several days in Goa literally nothing was open, even necessity shops. Also, if the police saw you outside of your homes they would threaten to hit you with their sticks.
Good things that have happened?
After the initial craziness of lockdown, things for me have been much better. I have everything I can ask for right now: good health, basic necessities, and a safe place to stay. These past six weeks during quarantine have given me much needed time to slow down, practise yoga, meditate, read, spend some time by the beach, and work on my blog. I have also created strong bonds with the other people staying at my hostel, who have become like a second family to me. In addition, I am extremely fortunate to be located within a “green zone” in Goa, India. Where there are currently zero active cases of Covid-19. Therefore, Goa is now in a state of relaxation where business, public transportation, and travel within the state are open. This is truly a blessing, as things feel somewhat normal again.
Is there any specific person or group of people who have helped you out during this time?
Shalini you were truly a lifesaver for me during this difficult time. I don’t know what would have happened if I had not known you, and you went out of your way to helping other travellers when lockdown first started. You referred me to Co-hostel who I am also so thankful for as they were gracious enough to allow us accommodation when no one else would.
Are you home yet? If yes, how did it happen If no, then any plans
I am currently still in Goa, India. Since lockdown started, there were opportunities to go back to the US on a chartered flight. However, at this point, I decided against going home as here I have a safe place to stay and remain in a green zone in India with zero active cases. Whereas if I go home the tickets home through the chartered flights are over $2000, I have a much more increased risk of contracting the virus by travelling for over 24 hours, would have to be quarantined for two weeks, and the US is the country with the most cases in the world. Therefore, my parents and I both agreed that it was best to stay in India for the time being.
As for most people, it is still difficult to plan for the future at this time. The lockdown is currently until the 17th of May, but there is a high chance of extension. Therefore, I will patiently wait in Goa until the lockdown is over and from there make travel plans accordingly. The first thing I would love to do a Vipassana meditation course here in India if possible.
Your favourite memory from this quarantine.
My favourite memory in quarantine has been the countless nights spent with my hostel mates where we go watch the sunset at the beach, come back and cook dinner together (some of the most delicious Indian food I have eaten has been here). Then staying up late practising salsa, listening to each other’s favourite music, and sharing stories about our lives and travels. These are nights I will forever remember and cherish.
If you would like to know more about my experience in India during the lockdown I have written a blog post on it-