“We are not trying to flaunt a luxurious, island lifestyle born from the pandemic but, rather, are making the most of a situation that’s truly out of our control.”
This is Michelle and John Senyard, two newlyweds from San Francisco who tied the knot March 6.
Michelle and John were already on their honeymoon to Thailand and Sri Lanka on March 8, before a travel advisory was announced — and they’ve been stuck in Sri Lanka ever since.
Four days ago, Michelle posted this 10-second TikTok of her husband swinging from a tree in Sri Lanka, which instantly went viral. The clip currently has over 4 MILLION views.
“Yup — two weeks turned into two months. We’ve been married in Sri Lanka longer than we’ve been married in America,” she captioned the TikTok.
Michelle told BuzzFeed that their original flight was canceled as the coronavirus pandemic grew worse. “On the same morning that our airline emailed us about the cancellation, America also issued the Global Travel Advisory Level 4 urging all Americans to return home immediately.”
So what happened to Michelle and John’s original honeymoon plans? In short, they fell apart. “The hotel we were honeymooning in had to shut down. In less than 24 hours, we had to pack our things and find a new place,” Michelle told BuzzFeed. “Unfortunately, all other hotels and hostels were closed and were not willing to allow any foreigners in. We ended up connecting with hostel owners who were willing to rent out a room to us for as long as we needed it.”
While some people might say this is a dream situation, Michelle said there has been a bit of an adjustment curve. “There are islandwide curfews, which means that people are not allowed to go outside — even to the grocery store,” she said. “The government will tell you pretty last-minute how long they are. They can be one day, three days, or an entire week. The positive is that the curfews are really effective in containing the virus. The negative: Grocery lines can be hours long in the blistering heat and humidity.”
Michelle continued: “Being in a foreign country during a global pandemic is quite the accelerator for our marriage. John and I have to work as a team on everything: staying positive, figuring out how to adjust in Sri Lanka, grocery shopping, cooking, doing laundry, keeping bugs and frogs out of our room, and tracking how much money we spend. The list goes on. We’ve learned to be grateful for everything — big or small — and, of course, to stay goofy (hence a lot of our TikToks).”
When asked about her viral success, Michelle said, “We definitely didn’t think over 4 million people would watch our 10-second TikTok video! We were both pretty surprised. We chose to share our story on Instagram and TikTok in order to have some creative fun, be honest, and hopefully entertain anyone who is following our crazy journey.”
However, Michelle and John haven’t spent the entire two months lounging on the beach. They’ve actually been working remotely. “We are working full time during the nights into the early morning,” Michelle explained. “We are fortunate to be able to pay our rent and bills back in San Francisco on top of our living expenses here in Sri Lanka, and are extremely privileged to both still have jobs. This affords us to be OK in a situation that could have been much worse in different circumstances.
“We’re stoked to be married, in love, and safe with such a strong support system back at home,” she continued. “That being said, we are not trying to flaunt a luxurious, island lifestyle born from the pandemic but, rather, are making the most of a situation that’s truly out of our control. Local Sri Lankans have been so kind to us. We have been treated extremely well by Sri Lankans we’ve been staying with and have learned a lot about local culture. I’ve learned how to cook insanely flavorful new dishes with local ingredients!”
It sounds like they’re making the best of a truly unique situation. Hopefully they make it back to San Francisco soon! In the meantime, you can follow them on TikTok at @meeshandjohn!
This post has been updated with more accurate travel dates based on an update from the couple.
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