Mechanical engineer Chris Beer and registered nurse Mietta Feery abandoned their lives in Melbourne in March 2019 for a three-year trip through north, Central and South America.
They were living in a renovated Ford Transit camper van with their dog Jackson in Mexico when the global pandemic was declared in March.
Mietta’s mother told them Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged travellers to return home before the borders were locked.
But instead of rushing to the nearest airport with more than 300,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents, the couple decided to isolate in Mexico.
Chris Beer and Mietta Feery decided to isolate in Mexico instead of abandoning their trip through America
‘It would have cost us thousands of dollars and we would have just been stuck in the same spot but at home and not been able to do anything anyway,’ Mietta told the ABC.
Some travellers reported paying up to $8,000 for a chartered flight from Central and South America to Australia in the scramble to return home before the nation’s borders were closed.
While Chris and Mietta’s families tried to convince them to go back home to Melbourne, their friends urged them to stay.
They managed to find a ranch owned by a local family to park their van.
In exchange for food, facilities and somewhere safe to sleep, the couple feed animals and take care of the property.
Chris, Mietta and their dog Jackson managed to find a ranch owned by a local family to park the van they live in – a renovated Ford transit
In exchange for food, facilities and somewhere safe to sleep, the couple feed animals and take care of the property (pictured)
But with their visas and van permit set to expire in June, the couple are concerned they’ll have to leave the country and apply for new travel documents.
‘If the Mexican Government doesn’t extend them for the crisis period then we’re actually going to have to make a run to a border so we can hand in our visas and our import permit for our car, renew them, and then come back to the ranch,’ Chris said.
Mexican officials have declared a national state of emergency with more than 33,000 positive cases of COVID-19. More than 3,300 people have died.
The nation has limited testing facilities and supplies and experts believe the number of deaths and infections is much higher than the official statistics.
The Melbourne couple eat meals with the family who own the ranch they’re living on during the pandemic
The ranch is near a beach (pictured). When the couple are not looking after the ranch and animals, they are walking their dog on the sand
The government has imposed curfews and restrictions on movements to curb the spread of the virus, as the nation’s healthcare system would not cope if the number of infected people spiked.
While the couple said they wouldn’t use the health facilities in Mexico if they got sick, their health insurance ran out in March and it can’t be renewed.
‘If we were really unfortunate enough to catch something or get sick, we definitely wouldn’t be using the healthcare system. We wouldn’t be going to the doctors or hospitals, we would just have to isolate,’ Chris said.
The couple have used their YouTube channel and Instagram profile to document their lives in Mexico during the pandemic.
At the end of April, the couple admitted that aspects of the situation aren’t ideal.
The couple have used their YouTube channel and Instagram profile to document their lives in Mexico during the pandemic
The couple explained that they do not want to bring Jackson to Australia during the pandemic because of Australia’s tough pet import laws
‘If things were to get really bad because of this virus we’re not exactly stuck in the most resourceful country,’ Chris wrote on Instagram.
The couple explained that while Australians can still pay for flights back home, the nation’s pet import regulations would mean abandoning Jackson – the dog they adopted in the US.
Importing pets to Australia is a long process where the animal must be medically tested, put in quarantine facility for at least 10 days and can cost more than $2,000.
‘Mietta and I sat down and talked through our situation and all our options and realised we were trying to plan for something that literally could not be planned for.’
‘We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so being patient, taking it day by day and trying to make the most of the situation we’re in was obviously our best option.’