(CNN) — The prospect of finding true love during a global pandemic seems almost impossible, especially if you’re stuck in lockdown and hate dating apps.
But that didn’t stop life coach Kayla MacArthur from taking a chance and booking an Airbnb apartment in Tulum, Mexico with a virtual stranger.
“I was ready for love but loathed the idea of swiping left and right on dating apps,” MacArthur tells CNN.
“I prefer to sense a person’s energy, but with all the restrictions due to Covid-19, part of me accepted that it was highly unlikely I’d meet the man of my dreams in 2020.”
In June, a mutual friend named Ben arranged a Zoom call between her and Ryan Crain, a 35-year-old wellness manager from Oklahoma, saying he thought they’d hit it off.
“When Ryan’s face appeared on my screen, I felt attracted to him,” MacArthur admits. “As we spoke, I realized he was as passionate about traveling as I was — before lockdown he went on a solo trip around the world.
“We had lots in common but it wasn’t as if we could meet up and hang out.”
Crain also felt an instant attraction to MacArthur and says he was on a “huge high” after speaking to her for the first time.
“Although I went into the conversation thinking it would be more of a friend connection, I did immediately notice how beautiful she was and I was very attracted to her,” he says.
“She had just returned to the US from living in Bali so I knew she was like minded.”
While Mexico has remained open to US visitors arriving by air during the pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advises against visiting because of the Covid risk. Over the holidays, the USCDC also advised against travel within the United States.
“A few weeks later, when both of us were fed up with being at home, we decided to go together,” she explains.
Mexico or bust
Kayla MacArthur and Ryan Crain had never met before they booked an Airbnb together in Tulum, Mexico.
DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images
Although they knew it was a gamble, the pair decided to throw caution to the wind and book a two-bedroom Airbnb property in the coastal town Tulum, based on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, for one month.
“We decided to go as travel buddies although deep down I think we were both hoping for something more,” says MacArthur.
“Living together would be the ultimate test — we’d know whether there was mutual chemistry and we’d really get to know each other.”
After making the necessary arrangements, MacArthur and Crain flew to Cancun separately on August 8.
They landed at different times, and didn’t see each other face to face until they were at the apartment.
“When we met for the first time in our Airbnb living room, I remember thinking that she had a glowing energy,” Crain says.
“She had bought me a dozen eggs and some fruit for breakfast from the day before, since she knew I would be getting in late. She was kind and thoughtful.”
They quickly talked about their expectations for the trip, and agreed to communicate with each other if either was annoyed or upset about anything.
“I wanted us to use this trip to grow as individuals and practice conscious relating,” says MacArthur. “Luckily Ryan was totally open to this.”
After two weeks of enjoying each other’s company and a magical trip to Isla Mujeres, Crain told MacArthur he had fallen for her and asked to take her on a date.
“I was hesitant,” she admits. “I wasn’t as sure if Ryan was the one for me.”
Although they decided to extend their stay, MacArthur’s remained uncertain of her feelings until Crain left for a week-long trip to Akumal, a small town on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, at the end of September.
“While Ryan was away, all the pressure disappeared and I realized just how much I missed him,” she says.
“During our time apart, I became clearer about my feelings — I wanted to give this a chance.”
When he returned, they officially became a couple and returned to the public beach in Tulum, where they’d had their first date.
The twosome then witnessed a double rainbow forming over the ocean. MacArthur says she interpreted this as a sign that they would go the distance.
But their relationship was repeatedly put to the test over the next few months.
“It might’ve looked glamorous to friends and family but there were practical realities to living there just like anywhere else,” says Crain.
“I simply tried to go with the flow and make the most of it. So when the power would go out for 24 hours, I would turn the music on, light some candles and dance around like a dork to make her laugh.”
MacArthur’s ATM card was later swallowed up and she developed a parasitic foot disease, which left her unable to walk properly.
She was prescribed strong medication by doctors, but felt exhausted most of the time and couldn’t leave the apartment. However, Crain proved to be a great support throughout.
“Ryan was really thoughtful and affectionate the whole time, getting me ice cream and also picking up medicine for me,” MacArthur says.
Both say the trials they faced while in Mexico have only made their relationship stronger.
Once MacArthur had recovered, the couple spent the next two months traveling to the Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza and Bacalar, dubbed the Maldives of Mexico, while planning their future together.
Back to reality
The couple spent the holidays in Boston with Kayla’s family and are looking forward to more adventures together.
They decided to return to the US together in December to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Boston with MacArthur’s family.
But the couple admit their whirlwind romance has received mixed reactions from friends and family.
“Our parents were thrilled,” says MacArthur. “But some of our friends were concerned. ‘You and Ryan are great together but when this vacation is over, you may encounter some problems’ and ‘When are you coming back to reality?’ were some of the things they said.”
“I smiled because Ryan and I have overcome quite a few obstacles. We are both committed to building a future together. I truly feel like I’ve found my person.”
Crain says he feels the same, and is hugely thankful that they opted to book that Airbnb over the summer.
“Kayla has helped me to be more open, vulnerable and authentic and I’m so grateful we took this chance together,” he says.
Although Covid-19 has no doubt brought much misery to the world, MacArthur says finding love during such a turbulent time has shown her that life can unfold in the most unexpected ways.
“I always hoped to find the love of my life but I had no idea it would happen so quickly and during a global pandemic,” she adds.
“We plan to travel together and spend some time in San Diego, Lisbon, and Costa Rica — that’s our dream,” she says. “Perhaps we’ll even make it back to Mexico one day.”
Pelosi to move forward with impeachment if Pence doesn’t act to remove Trump
“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi said in the letter to Democrats on Sunday night laying out next steps.
The House will try to pass a measure on Monday imploring Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, through which he and the Cabinet declare Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office, after which the Vice President would immediately exercise powers as acting president.” If Republicans object, as is virtually certain, Democrats will pass the bill via a roll call vote on Tuesday.
“We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours,” Pelosi wrote. “Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor.”
But it’s not clear when exactly the Senate will take up the House’s measure. The Senate isn’t scheduled to return until Jan. 19, but will hold pro forma sessions on Tuesday and Friday. In theory, a senator could try to pass the House resolution by unanimous consent, but as of now it appears unlikely that it would pass.
On Monday, multiple House Democrats plan to introduce impeachment resolutions that would become the basis of any impeachment article considered by the House later this week.
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who will introduce an article of impeachment against Trump on Monday, said on Sunday that roughly 200 Democrats have co-sponsored the measure.
Currently, 211 voting members (plus three nonvoting members) support Cicilline’s legislation, and they are hoping to reach 217 voting members by Monday morning, enough for the House to impeach Trump, one Democratic source familiar with the matter told POLITICO.
A small number of Democrats have opted not to co-sign the bill, but privately say they will vote to support the resolution on the floor, the source added.
The impeachment effort in the House is likely to be bipartisan, with Democrats expecting at least one GOP lawmaker — Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — to sign on. A handful of other House Republicans are seriously weighing it, according to several sources, though those lawmakers are waiting to see how Democrats proceed, and some are concerned about dividing the country even further.
Among the GOP members whom Democrats are keeping an eye on are Reps. John Katko of New York, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.
Across the Capitol, at least two Republicans — Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have called on Trump to resign. On Saturday, Toomey told Fox News, “I do think the president committed impeachable offenses,” but told CNN the next day that he does not believe there is enough time to impeach.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has also said he would consider articles of impeachment.
Another option has emerged among some Republican and moderate Democratic circles — censuring Trump — though it remains highly unlikely to advance.
A censure resolution would gain far more support in the GOP than impeachment. Some Republicans have privately been pushing for that route and are trying to get Biden on board, according to GOP sources. That group of Republicans is also warning that impeachment could destroy Biden’s reputation with Republicans.
But censure is considered a nonstarter in an incensed House Democratic Caucus, where members see it as a slap on the wrist that gives Republicans an easy out.
The Democrats’ enormous step toward impeachment on Sunday comes after Pelosi and other top Democrats held a private call on Saturday night in which they discussed the potential ramifications that a lengthy impeachment trial could have on Biden’s presidency.
Democratic leaders discussed several options to limit the political effects on Biden’s first 100 days, with one option — floated by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) — for the House to delay the start of an impeachment trial in the Senate by holding on to the article of impeachment.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has sent out a memo to senators explaining that the Senate could not take up impeachment until Jan. 19 at the earliest, absent unanimous consent.
A final decision has not been made, and House Democrats will discuss the matter on a 2 p.m. caucus call on Monday.
Lawmakers are already privately expressing concerns about returning to the Capitol for multiple days this week, worried about both a potential coronavirus outbreak and whether the building is secure, given how easily an armed pro-Trump mob invaded on Wednesday.
The Capitol physician urged House lawmakers and staff to get tested in a memo Sunday, saying they might have been exposed to someone who had the virus while huddling for safety in a large committee room for hours on Wednesday. During the hourslong lockdown, several Republican members refused to wear masks despite being offered them by Democrats worried about the spread of the deadly virus.
Melanie Zanona, Olivia Beavers and Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.
Matt Hancock Scraps “Unnecessary Training Modules” Blamed For Slowing Vaccine Rollout
5 min read
Matt Hancock said people will no longer need to undertake training including an anti-terrorism course to give the coronavirus jab after MPs said “bureaucratic rubbish” was delaying mass vaccination.
It comes as MPs called for the government to produce targets for the number of people given immunity before lockdown can be lifted.
The health secretary said a series of “unnecessary training modules” are being scrapped to speed up the process of getting people qualified to deliver the jab.
Speaking in the Commons, Sir Edward Leigh said he was shown by his fellow the Tory MP, a qualified GP, the “ridiculous form” he had filled out to start delivering the vaccine.
“When he’s inoculating an old lady, he’s not going to ask her if she’s come into contact with Jihadis or whatever, so the Secretary has got to cut through all this bureaucratic rubbish,” he said.
In response Mr Hancock said: “I am a man after Sir Edward’s heart and I can tell the House that we have removed a series of the unnecessary training modules that had been put in place, including fire safety, terrorism and others.
“I’ll write to him with the full panoply of the training that is not required and we have been able to remove, and we made this change as of this morning and I am glad to say it is enforced.
“I am a fan of busting bureaucracy and in this case I agree with him that it is not necessary to undertake anti-terrorism training in order to inject vaccines.”
Dr Fox had earlier challenged Boris Johnson to drop the “bureaucracy” and “political correctness” of the forms vaccine volunteers must fill out.
He told MPs: “As a qualified but non-practising doctor, I volunteered to help with the scheme and would urge others to do the same.
“But, can I ask the Prime Minister why I’ve been required to complete courses on conflict resolution, equality, diversity and human rights, moving and handling loads and preventing radicalisation in order to give a simple Covid jab?”
Mr Johnson said he had been “assured by the Health Secretary that all such obstacles, all such pointless pettifoggery has been removed”.
The government has been attempting to recruit thousands of volunteers to help with a mass vaccination programme, and with the recent approval of the more easily deliverable Oxford/AstraZeneca version has today revealed the location of seven mass vaccination centres set to open next week.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told journalists at a briefing they would be at Robertson House in Stevenage, the ExCel Centre in London, the Centre for Life in Newcastle, the Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester, Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol and Millennium Point in Birmingham, and it is expected they will be run with a combination of NHS staff and volunteers.
But so far the government has not said how many people need to be inoculated before it has an impact on the coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Hancock was asked by a number of MPs if the measures could be eased once the top few tiers in the vaccine priority list had been clear.
Former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper said once the top four groups, which includes care home residents and staff, frontline NHS workers, the clinically extremely vulnerable and everyone over 70 “we’ve taken care therefore of 80% of the risk of death”.
Adding: “What possible reason is there at that point for not rapidly relaxing the restrictions that are in place on the rest of our country?”
The health secretary replied: “We have to see the impact of that vaccination on the reduction in the number of deaths, which I very much hope that we will see at that point, and so that is why we will take this – an evidence-led move down through the tiers, when we’ve broken the link, I hope, between cases and hospitalisations and deaths.”
The ex-Tory minister and another doctor, Andrew Murrison, said: “The logic of anticipating what is going to happen in two or three or four weeks’ time from the number of cases we are getting at the moment is that we can do the same in reverse.
“That is to say, when we have a sufficient number of people vaccinated up we can anticipate in two or three or four weeks’ time how many deaths have been avoided.
“That means, since it cuts both ways he will be able to make a decision on when we should end these restrictions.”
Mr Hancock replied: “The logic of the case that Dr Murrison makes is the right logic and we want to see that happen in empirical evidence on the ground.
“This hope for the weeks ahead doesn’t take away, though, from the serious and immediate threat posed now.”
The Cabinet minister said the challenge for the government is to increase the amount of doses available, claiming “the current rate-limiting factor on the vaccine rollout is the supply of approved, tested, safe vaccine”.
He added: ”We are working with both AstraZeneca and Pfizer to increase that supply as fast as possible and they’re doing a brilliant job.”
But Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for the government to ramp up its vaccination programme to six million doses a week.
He told the Commons: “The Prime Minister has promised almost 14 million will be offered the vaccine by mid-Feb. That depends on around two million doses a week on average.
“Both [Mr Hancock] and the Prime Minister have reassured us in recent days that it’s doable based on orders.
“But in the past ministers have told us that they had agreements for 30 million AstraZeneca doses by September 2020 and 10 million of Pfizer doses by the end of 2020.
“So, I think people just want to understand the figures and want clarity. Can ministers tell us how many of the ordered doses have been manufactured?”
Mr Ashworth added: “Two million a week would be fantastic but it should be the limit of our ambitions, we should be aiming to scale up to three, then five, then six million jabs a week over the coming months.”
How South African police are tackling pangolin smugglers
Quiet, solitary and nocturnal, the pangolin has few natural enemies, but researchers believe it is the most trafficked mammal in the world. The tough scales covering its body are sought after for use in Chinese medicine, in the erroneous belief that they have healing properties.
The animal has also been of interest to researchers during the coronavirus pandemic. Related viruses have been found in trafficked pangolins, though there is continued uncertainty around early theories that pangolins were involved in the transmission of the virus from animals to humans.
After South African police seized a pangolin from suspected smugglers, BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding witnessed how vets tried to save the animal’s life.
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