Kayla MacArthur, 31, and Ryan Crain, 35, had their first video chat over the summer after being set up by a friend, according to the Boston Globe.
By August 8, the pair — who had still only ever chatted virtually — had flown to Cancun, where they moved into the first of several Airbnbs that they lived in together until December.
Virtual connection: Kayla MacArthur, 31, and Ryan Crain, 35, moved to Mexico together after meeting on a Zoom date
Leap of faith: The pair met in the living room of their Cancun Airbnb, having never met up in the States
Kayla, a life coach, figured she wouldn’t meet anyone during the pandemic.
‘Finding a relationship was always something that was important to me and something I struggled with for a while. When the pandemic hit, I lost all hope,’ she said.
‘I was ready for love but loathed the idea of swiping left and right on dating apps,’ she added to 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.’
But in June, a friend named Ben set her up on a Zoom coffee date with Ryan, and she gave it a shot.
They certainly had things in common, both being adventurous people who like to travel. Earlier this year, Kayla spent five weeks in Bali, while Ryan had sold all of his possessions in 2018 so he could travel.
Both felt an instant attraction to one another, but didn’t rush to meet in person — until Kayla got too antsy from staying in one place for so long.
Hopeless: Kayla, a life coach, figured she wouldn’t meet anyone during the pandemic
He knew: A friend set them up, knowing them both to be adventurous people who love travel
She said: ‘2020 was supposed to be the year I was going full-time nomadic, and I didn’t get that.
‘I was so depressed from being stuck at home from lockdown that I messaged him to see if he’d want to go to Mexico.’
Mexico made sense to the pair because it was ‘the cheapest, the easiest, and it’s a quick flight home,’ and Ryan agreed to go with her — even though they had still never met in person.
So they booked flights, rented a two-bedroom Airbnb in Cancun, and flew south, meeting for the first time in the Airbnb’s living room.
‘When we met for the first time in our Airbnb living room, I remember thinking that she had a glowing energy,’ Ryan said.
‘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.’
Platonic: Kayla was tired of not traveling and asked Ryan to go to Mexico with her for an extended stay. At first, they were just friends
They went on to stay in Mexico for four months together, and in October, they officially entered a ‘conscious partnership’
Of course, there is still a pandemic raging, even in Mexico — and most experts and government officials are warning against travel of any kind.
The couple insists they were safe, though, and that they got COVID-19 tests a few days after landing.
For the first two weeks, Ryan and Kayla were just friends. They did things together — including taking a trip to Isla Mujeres — but not in a romantic capacity.
It wasn’t until the second week that Ryan asked Kayla on a date. Still, Kayla was unsure — and didn’t realize she had feelings for Ryan until he left for a week-long trip on his own, and she missed him.
They went on to stay in Mexico for four months together, and in October, they officially entered a ‘conscious partnership.’
Unsurprisingly, their families had doubts.
‘They said things like, “Once this vacation is over, you may have some trouble,”‘ Ryan said. ‘And we both just kind of laughed because this is a lifestyle for us. We want this lifestyle. We went through a lot together. We went through quite a bit of practical reality.’
Real life: The pair insist that their time in Mexico hasn’t been just a long, relaxing vacation, and they’ve had to deal with conflict and unpleasantness, too
But the pair insist that their time in Mexico hasn’t been just a long, relaxing vacation, and they’ve had to deal with conflict and unpleasantness, too, including an electrical fire, hookworms, hurricanes, and construction noise near their accommodations.
Back home: In December, they ended their Mexican getaway and came back to Massachusetts to spend time with their families
They say all this made their bond stronger, giving them confidence they could last even beyond these unusual circumstances.
In December, they ended their Mexican getaway and came back to Massachusetts to spend time with their families during the holidays, as well as to adhere to visa guidelines.
They’re hardly done traveling, though, even as the pandemic kills thousands of people a day.
Next, they plan to spend time in San Diego, Lisbon, and Costa Rica.
‘Living abroad and living with someone you don’t know is a good way to get to know someone. This is how I found my person,’ said Kayla.
‘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 added.