"Party in the city where the heat is on, all night on the beach till the break of dawn* ..." OK - not exactly, Will Smith. More like a party of one with zero partying and a ton of social distancing fun. Let me share a bit from heart about what I have been experiencing mentally during the pandemic, with the goal of letting others know that you are not alone. I hope that my journey to find joy, normalcy, and a little bit of adventure (safely) might inspire you as well.
Like many of you, this Covid-19 pandemic has really taken a toll on me mentally. As I sat and thought about it the other day, I realized that I had spent almost 6 months in the house by myself. (Read that again - I said BY MYSELF). At first, I didn't leave the house at all, not even for groceries. I ordered everything online. As an extrovert, human interaction is so necessary to my daily well being, and not having that for so long was very draining and, frankly, depressing. That, along with hearing about so many people dying due to Covid-19 weighed heavily on me. Add on top of that dealing with a racial pandemic... it's a lot!! I found myself falling deeper into a depressive state, caught in the weight and jumble of my thoughts and feelings, and not knowing where to start to sort them out. I honestly reached my breaking point. I knew I had to do something.
Y'alI know I love to adventure. I decided I was going to travel somewhere solo just to get a change of scenery and hopefully reset. I chose Miami because it was within driving distance (road trip!) and because I desperately needed some sun and sea. I wasn't quite ready to get on a plane, and I knew that driving was the best way for me to avoid contact with others. I got my itinerary together and off I went.
I had an AMAZING time in Miami. I was at total peace when I was there and I was excited for adventure for the first time in months. If I were to summarize, I would say there are 3 things that I believe helped me feel refreshed and rejuvenated:
1. Praying and connecting with God.
My relationship with God is very important to me, and I don't know about you, but it's been hard to pray during these times! You just don't have the words sometimes. The car ride to Miami was a perfect opportunity for me to talk to God, as well as in the mornings before starting the day's adventure. I finally felt free to pray and connect with God! Shoot, I was talking to God while floating in the pool and looking up at the blue sky! It was in those times that God reminded me that I am not alone and that everything will be okay. I felt encouraged.
2. Doing things that inspired me.
Miami is such an inspiring place. There is so much to do outdoors that doesn't involve being around others. In fact, Miami Beach was not as crowded as it usually is, so it was so easy to social distance. I don't know how I managed to pack so much adventure into what was essentially a long weekend trip. I went to the beach and swam in the hotel pool. I sat in the waterfront park and watched boats go by and palm trees sway in the breeze. I hung out in the arts district and went mural hunting. (Of course, I followed CDC guidelines by wearing a mask, washing my hands frequently, and practiced social distancing). I did things that made my soul smile. Those things gave me energy to keep going! I'm getting giddy just thinking about them again!
3. Getting dressed up in cute outfits
I'm not a fashion blogger, per se. But style is a big part of my personality and fashion inspires me. I made sure to put on make up everyday and wear my new outfits! (Thankfully I was able to get a few new dresses for this trip). If the saying "if you look good, you feel good" were a person, it would be me! I had so much fun getting dolled up. If wearing my mask meant my face was covered, at least I looked good in the clothes I was wearing.
In sum, Miami was just what the doctor ordered. I was able to get a spiritual tune up, but I was also able to do things that inspired me, while looking & feeling good in the process.
Now what about you? How are you doing mentally? I cannot stress enough how important it is to be intentional with protecting your mental health during this time. What small things can you do to help you find joy and adventure, even in the midst of a pandemic? For you it might not be travel due to restrictions and CDC recommendations to stay home, but what other things can you do get inspired to feel like yourself again? Comment below to let me know!
And whatever you decide to do, remember to be safe and follow CDC guidelines.
*Lyrics from song "Miami" by Will Smith
Ahh - the Panama Canal. I've done a lot of cool things while traveling, but this, hands down, has got to be one of the COOLEST things I've ever done. If you're visiting Panama, your def gonna wanna put this on your bucket list!
The Panama Canal is a waterway that connects the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of a sequence of (ginormous) locks that work like an elevator. This facilitates the transit of ships and boats through (so no, ships don't just cruise on through at speed like they would on the ocean). Once a ship enters the canal, the water is raised and the locks raises the ships above sea level. Then the ship can pass through to the next part of the canal and so forth. The ship eventually is lowered to sea level and then goes on its merry way. (This is a gross oversimplification of the highly sophisticated engineering that is the Panama Canal, but that's not what this blog post is about :-))
Ok - on to the tips for visiting.
Before you go, here are some tips that will help make your visit there easier and more enjoyable:
1. Grab a cab or Uber to the Miraflores Locks - that's where all the action is.
That is also where the visitor's center is. When you arrive, you can purchase your ticket (they were ~$20 when I went). You also can explore the museum there or get a snack while you wait for the ship to get in. And it’s only ~20 mins with no traffic from Panama City. Try not to leave around rush hour as Panama City traffic can be a beast around 5pm.
2. Plan to arrive when a ship is scheduled to pass through.
Don’t just show up. There are several places online where you can look up the full schedule (for example, here) or sites that show you a live stream of ships passing through the canal (for example, here). If you're lucky, like I was, you can see multiple ships go through during one visit! There are typically ships that arrive around 1pm, so get there early for the show!
3. Plan to spend a couple of hours there.
It takes a while for the ship to pass through the Miraflores locks. It is a slow process with the water going up and down and the locks raising and lowering the ship. It might also get hot, but there are a couple floors of balconies (covered) where visitors typically gather. Make some friends and make it an event!
4. Schedule in advance if you want to walk over the canal to get a tour of the Miraflores Locks Control Tower.
All the magic of the canal is controlled in that building, which you can see from the balcony across the canal where you watch the ships. There is a tour that you can schedule with TripAdvisor here. Unfortunately I didn't get to visit the control tower, but regretted that I didn't even know this was an option when I went.
Fun fact: Marc Anthony showed up when I was there! Him and his entourage crossed over the locks on foot and visited the control center! I'm a Marc Anthony super fan and I wish I was able to meet him.
5. Take a time lapse of a ship crossing as a souvenir.
This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen and I recommend taking a time-lapse instead of video because it can take a while for the ship to cross. It is something you won't want to forget, so bring a tripod and make sure your phone for video camera is charged up!
Here are two of the time-lapse videos I took - I'm still so fascinated by the whole process.
If you've been to the Panama Canal, please comment and let me know how your experience was. And if you haven't been and then decided to go, I would love to hear about your experience!
Until the next adventure,
About this page
This "Travel" page is a space for me to share my stories from both national and international travel adventures