What occurred when two digital strangers booked an Airbnb collectively
(CNN) – The prospect of finding true love during a global pandemic seems almost impossible, especially when you’re stuck in lockdown and hating 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.
The 31-year-old from Massachusetts was disaffected with the prospect of meeting someone while many Americans were told to stay home when a friend decided to step in and play matchmaker.
“I was ready for love, but hated the idea of swiping left and right on dating apps,” MacArthur told CNN.
“I prefer to feel a person’s energy, but despite all the limitations of Covid-19, part of me accepted that it was highly unlikely that I would 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, and said he thought they hit it off.
“When Ryan’s face appeared on my screen, I was drawn to him,” admits MacArthur. “When we talked, I realized he was just as passionate about traveling as I was – he was going on a solo trip around the world before the lockdown.
“We had a lot in common, but it wasn’t like we could meet and hang out.”
Crain also felt an instant attraction to MacArthur, saying he was on “a huge high” after first speaking to her.
“Even though I went into the conversation thinking it was more of a friendship, I immediately noticed how beautiful she was and I was very attracted to her,” he says.
“She had just returned to the US from her life in Bali, so I knew she was like-minded.”
While Mexico has remained open to US visitors during the pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently advising against visiting because of the risk of Covid. The USCDC also advised against travel within the United States during the vacation.
“A few weeks later, when we were both tired of being home, we decided to go out together,” she explains.
Mexico or bust
Kayla MacArthur and Ryan Crain had never met before booking an Airbnb together in Tulum, Mexico.
DANIEL SLIM / AFP via Getty Images
Even though they knew it was a game of chance, the two decided to exercise caution for a month and book a two-bedroom Airbnb property in the coastal town of Tulum on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
“We chose to go as a travel companion, though deep down we were both hoping for something more,” MacArthur says.
“Living together would be the ultimate test – we would know if there was chemistry between us and we would really get to know each other.”
After MacArthur and Crain made the necessary arrangements, they flew separately to Cancun on August 8th.
They landed at different times and only saw each other face to face once they were in the apartment.
“When we first met in our Airbnb living room, I remember thinking she had a glowing energy,” says Crain.
“She bought me a dozen eggs and some fruit for breakfast the day before because she knew I was going to be late. She was nice and thoughtful.”
They quickly talked about their expectations for the trip and agreed to communicate with each other if they were upset or upset about anything.
“I wanted us to use this journey to grow as individuals and to cultivate conscious relationships,” says MacArthur. “Fortunately, Ryan was completely open to it.”
After enjoying each other’s company and a magical trip to Isla Mujeres for two weeks, Crain told MacArthur that he had fallen in love with her and asked her to date her.
“I hesitated,” she admits. “I wasn’t so sure if Ryan was right for me.”
Although they decided to extend their stay, MacArthur remained unsure of their feelings until Crain set off on a week-long trip to Akumal, a small town on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, in late September.
“While Ryan was gone, all the pressure went away and I realized how much I missed him,” she says.
“During our time 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 for their first date.
The two then experienced a double rainbow that formed over the ocean. MacArthur says she took this as a sign that they would go the distance.
But their relationship was tested repeatedly over the next several months.
Not only did the couple experience the relentless noise from nearby construction, they also witnessed three hurricanes and tropical storm Gamma, which brought floods and landslides to the Yucatán Peninsula, leaving them without electricity or water for four days.
“It may have looked glamorous to friends and family, but there were practical realities of living there, just like anywhere else,” says Crain.
“I was just trying to go with the flow and make the most of it. So if the power went out for 24 hours, I would turn on the music, light some candles, and dance around like a fool to make them laugh bring. “
MacArthur’s ATM card was later swallowed and she developed a parasitic foot disease that made her unable to walk properly.
She was prescribed strong medication by doctors, but most of the time she felt exhausted and could not leave the apartment. However, Crain proved to be of great help throughout.
“Ryan was very thoughtful and loving all along, getting me ice cream and getting me medication, too,” MacArthur says.
Both say the trials they faced in Mexico only strengthened their relationship.
After MacArthur recovered, the couple traveled to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Bacalar, the Maldives of Mexico, for the next two months, planning their future together.
Back to reality
The couple spent their vacation in Boston with Kayla’s family and are looking forward to more adventures together.
They decided to return to the United States together in December to spend Christmas and New Years in Boston with MacArthur’s family.
But the couple admits their whirlwind romance has received mixed reactions from friends and family.
“Our parents loved it,” says MacArthur. “But some of our friends were concerned: ‘You and Ryan are great together, but when this vacation is over you may run into some problems’ and ‘When are you getting back to reality?’ were some of the things they said. “
“I smiled because Ryan and I overcame some obstacles. We’re both determined to build a future together. I really feel like I’ve found myself.”
Crain says he feels the same way and is very grateful that they decided to book this Airbnb over the summer.
“Kayla has helped me be more open, vulnerable, and authentic, and I’m so grateful that we took this opportunity together,” he says.
Although Covid-19 has undoubtedly brought much misery to the world, MacArthur says that finding love in such a tumultuous time taught her that life can unfold in unexpected ways.
“I had always hoped to find the love of my life, but little did I know it would happen so quickly and during a global pandemic,” she adds.
While ever-changing border restrictions continue to limit travel, the couple plan to go on more adventures together in the future.
“We’re planning to travel together and spend some time in San Diego, Lisbon and Costa Rica – that’s our dream,” she says. “We might even make it back to Mexico one day.”