"When I first committed to three full months in El Salvador, the feeling that I was signing up for the equivalent of marriage and reproduction was assuaged only by the awareness that, come March 2020, I'd be dashing around Mexico before flying to Istanbul and resuming freneticism in that hemisphere. Little did I know that the scribbled itinerary would never come to fruition, and that I'd only get as far as the coastal village of Zipolite in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where March 13-25 would turn into March 13 until further notice."
Since leaving her American homeland in 2003 Belén Fernández had been an inveterate traveler. Ceaselessly wandering the world, the only constant in her itinerary was a conviction never to return to the country of her childhood. Then the COVID-19 lockdown happened and Fernandez found herself stranded in a small village on the Pacific coast of Mexico.
This charming, wryly humorous account of nine months stuck in one place nevertheless roams freely: over reflections on previous excursions to the wilder regions of North Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe; over her new-found friendship with Javier, the mezcal-drinking, chain-smoking near-septuagenarian she encounters in his plastic chair on Mexico's only clothing-optional beach; over her protracted struggle to obtain a life-saving supply of yerba mate; and over, literally, the rope of a COVID-19 checkpoint, set up directly outside her front door and manned by armed guards who require her to don a mask every time she returns home.