A Polish travel blogger and YouTuber has chosen an unlikely location for spending the lockdown period – one of the world’s most isolated islands. The Socotra island in Yemen has become the abode for documentary host Eva zu Beck.
The 29-year-old came to the island on March 11, just days before most of the countries shut their borders and implemented lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. According to a report by CNN, she arrived along with 40 other international tourists and was there to attend Socotra’s first-ever marathon event.
It was on March 15 that the tourists were asked to vacate the island as it would be closing its borders. Zu Beck decided to wait for the pandemic on this isolated island. “I have so much love for the island,” she told the news portal.
“I'd visited last year and I swore I'd return one day for an extended stay. I took what was happening as a sign,” she added about her decision of staying back.
While most of the other tourists returned back, the Polish travel blogger and four other tourists accepted being stuck at an island for an unforeseeable future as their fate. Ever since her extended stay started, Zu Beck has been fishing, wild camping and hiking in the mountains.
She admitted to having spent most of her time in the rural villages; with having to return to Socotra’s capital Hadibu for electricity, Wi-Fi and other necessities.
View this post on Instagram
2.5 MONTHS ON THE ISLAND: ❤️2️⃣❤️ COVID-19 UPDATE. Thank you to everyone who has been so concerned about my stay on the island. #Respect_Socotra, You have given me a new perspective and I apologize if I sent the wrong message before. Things are different from what they were before. My 1st month here was a “honeymoon period”, and the island felt very much sealed from COVID-19 due to restricted traffic. But, times change. Currently, many cases are being reported in mainland Yemen, and with some boat traffic to the island, not all of it properly quarantined (as it seems), locals have concerns. People (not tourists) have continued to arrive on Socotra. People are on alert, and wary that there is a possibility that the virus will eventually make it here, whether that’s tomorrow or in a year from now. Before, it felt safe to travel to different places around the island, but that’s no longer the case. Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve been spending the majority of my time in a family home in one village and intend to keep it this way. According to health professionals, the island is free of COVID-19, and while people want to trust them, it’s hard to know for sure without proper testing facilities. So in the village, Shibhan, they’re starting to take measures, just in case. Getting ready for the future. My host is trying to change the greeting habits in the village (from a handshake and a kiss to a wave), which isn’t easy but as he says, “we’ve got to start somewhere”. We started sewing face masks. From the perspective of time, given the knowledge I have now about the spread and nature of the virus, would I have made the decision to come here in the first place? No. My intention was never to encourage active travel to remote places during a pandemic. Rather, I wanted to share the beauty of a place I was already in, a place that’s little-known and needs to be protected. Remote places and populations are at a higher risk from the virus - in part because of limited healthcare infrastructure. Leaving? Hopefully. It’s a work in progress. Please donate to @monarelief, a local NGO working to bring basic necessities to people in Yemen: patreon.com/monarelief ❤
View this post on Instagram
THE LANGUAGE WE ALL SPEAK, THE MOST AWKWARD AND BEAUTIFUL OF ALL. Every other evening, after dinner, I get visitors on my little verandah. They’re girls from my host family’s home. Together with their friends, they come to me in flowy dresses, with scarves wrapped around their waists and hijabs thrown loosely over their heads. After an exchange of greetings, one of them inevitably claps her hands and gets up, beckoning the others to join her. And that’s how our dance evenings begin. The girls know their Bollywood moves inside out, and they even sing along in (only slightly) broken Hindi. That’s an influence picked up from the TV, which runs on solar here. One moment, it’s all Aishwarya Rai, and the next, they’re singing an old Socotri song and rocking gently to its rhythm. When it’s my turn to dance, I usually try to get them to “teach” me and follow along. I’m the clumsiest dancer in the world, which is cause for much entertainment. Sometimes, we do solo dances though, where one of us dances, and all the other girls sit and watch. That’s when my secret weapon comes out: Britney Spears. With “Oops I Did It Again” playing on my Spotify, I start to feel like a little girl, and after that, it’s all giggles all over again. And then, back to Bollywood, in this prehistoric, tiny speck of land on the edge of the world. It’s a universal language, dance. It’s awkward, yes - but it becomes beautiful as soon as you embrace your own clumsiness, your natural movement. That’s how you begin to speak. And in that space between the dancer and the spectator, a language of universal understanding emerges. The epic photo by @rpljuscec
View this post on Instagram
THE MYTH ABOUT LIVING ON A REMOTE ISLAND. I’ve been getting a lot of messages from people saying they’d love to trade places with me, because their current life is too stressful. Yes, 99% of these wishes are fantasies. If offered a one-way ticket, most would decline it. But it’s been a strong enough trend to get me thinking: AM I calmer, less stressed, because I’m on this remote island? Can “getting away” to a place like this kill your anxieties? After 2 months on the island, the answer is: absolutely not. Anxiety is part of the deal you make when you make the decision to stay in a place like this. You just sign up for a different set of worries. Yes, being here is probably less monotonous than staying home. You can go outside and enjoy nature, you can practice your photography and socialize. Those are currently luxuries for most people. But choosing to stay in a place this remote is still a give-and-take, not a win-win. You’re choosing to be far from the world you know. You’re choosing uncertainty for your future. You’re betting on a set of unknowns. Yes, travel itself is a set of unknowns you learn to navigate. But somehow, the pressure to navigate smoothly is less daunting when you know the whole world is moving openly. You have various options to change course or even abort the journey. These options don’t exist right now, whether you’re safe and bored at home, or uncertain and adventuring on a remote island. Over here, I share all your emotional roller coasters. I hear and feel all your anxieties. Photographic proof attached I ask the same questions. When will this end? Will I be able to see my friends and family soon? How will this affect my job? WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON? The lesson is clear to me. The key to a calm mind is not a one-way ticket to a remote destination. The key to a calm mind is not an escape, because escapism eventually brings you crashing back home. Do you know the real location of this miracle key? It’s in upper part of your body, right there at the top, behind your eyes and between your ears. It’s in your mind, and your mind alone. I hope you’re still staying strong, and safe, and sane ❤️