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SUMMER RULES is a series where we ask people to share with us how they’re staying safe and sane during this very different summer season; from mask suggestions to soundtrack selections, we’ll take a peek into how others are making these challenging times work.

Today we’re super excited to be joined by Katalina Mayorga, founder and CEO of El Camino Travel (read our Dream Jobs feature on her role here), which just launched a cool new online travel community called the Clubhouse earlier this week! She tells us all about that below, and lets us know how she’s been staying cool this summer in Nicaragua; she recommends a standard uniform of swimsuit bottoms and oversize button-down shirts, as well as a dragon fruit or passion fruit margarita or two, among other things:

How do you usually feel about summer, as a season overall, and how do you feel about THIS summer, by comparison? 

Summer is probably my favorite season of the year. It is the time to be extra extroverted (which works for me as a Gemini). However, this year is obviously different for so many reasons. This is the summer of introspection. I am expecting lots of staring out the window and mindless walks. In a weird way, I am also excited to be forced into these moments of reflection and see where my mind wanders to. I have been calling it my forced sabbatical. I guess I am a glass half full kind of person? 

What is your summer shaping up to look like? 

I am currently riding out lockdown in Nicaragua. We have been here since early January, and we decided to hunker down here at our guesthouse Casa Violeta and now are “forced” to stay here because there are not commercial flights in and out of the country for the foreseeable future. It has been so inspiring to see how the citizens and the private sector have taken this so seriously (though the government has not) since the beginning. 95% of people wear masks, and since April, if you walk into most establishments they take your temperature, and sanitize the heck out of your hands and cart. It is not a divisive issue here, and there is a communal mentality around everyone’s well-being. It has made me feel hopeful in humanity rather than dread its future. 

Is there anything in particular you’re actually looking forward to this summer? 

Yes! My company, El Camino Travel, just launched an online travel community called the Clubhouse! It is a membership-based program, and we are super excited to finally be sharing all of our industry secrets with our community. We’re doing this by giving our Clubhouse members direct access to industry experts, facilitating engaging discussions with cultural luminaries who are doing big things in culture and society, and offering travel planning resources that will provide our members with the confidence to plan both domestic and international travel safely and responsibly in this new era. This is NOT another Facebook group—we’re looking for a certain kind of traveler who is committed to achieving growth and joy through travel and culture in their own unique ways. We’re accepting new members right now, come join us!

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PHOTO FOR ATTENTION because selfies and photos that have water do better with the algorithm. I can’t stop thinking about a post that @brightestyoungthings reposted the other day that said something along the lines of “Remember the businesses you support now are the businesses that will be here for the AFTER. If you buy from Amazon that’s what the AFTER will be. If you want small business to make it, buy from small businesses.” You vote with your dollars before, during (especially during), and after COVID-19 for the world you want. If you do not need immediate shipping, if you can be patient with small businesses who are having to completely rethink their business models and do not have the same type of manpower as large corporations, if you do not want to make Jeff Bezos even richer as the richest man in the world, if you do not want a world made up of sterile corporations, be thoughtful with your spending power. Things won’t get delivered as fast, things might be slightly more expensive, but please remember you are supporting a small business owner who likely poured their life savings to pursue something that they believed to their core would make this world a better place whether it is through impact, making people happier, or providing a much more personalized service. We can’t just start over whenever the AFTER happens. We already used our savings to put our big idea in the world. 99.9% of us our fighting for our survival in the AFTER. We need consumers to be part of this fight with us, we need them to believe in us as much as we are trying to believe in ourselves during these uncertain times. I know that everyone’s financial situation is shaky right now, but if you are going to spend money please think twice. How does your dollar support the world you want in the AFTER?

A post shared by Katalina Mayorga (@theyoufinder) on

What are some of your tips for staying safe and sane right now? 

Wear a DAMN mask! Go on long walks, try to get out in nature at a safe distance, and keep your mind stimulated by picking up a new skill. 

Go-to summer wellness practice advice? Any spots in particular that have been helping you on that front? 

I have been consistently working out and taking advantage of all the online workouts and free trials to see what best motivates me in a home setting. I am really digging LEK FIT. 

Where did you get your mask from? And what, aside from that, has been your more or less go-to summer uniform? 

I got it from UPNicaragua, a non-profit here in Nicaragua that unleashes the potential of Nicaraguan girls through coding and soft skills like public speaking and meditation. My summer uniform has been swimsuit bottoms, oversize button-down shirts and no bra. Looks pretty professional on Zoom calls. 

What (if anything) are you reading right now, and why do you recommend it? (Alternatively, just share a favorite book.) 

I think like almost every non-Black POC or white person in the United States, I am reading, “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. I am also educating myself on reparations as this is a topic I don’t feel confident in trying to explain to others who say shit like, “But that has nothing to do with me, that was the past.” 

View this post on Instagram

PHOTO FOR ATTENTION because selfies and photos that have water do better with the algorithm. I can’t stop thinking about a post that @brightestyoungthings reposted the other day that said something along the lines of “Remember the businesses you support now are the businesses that will be here for the AFTER. If you buy from Amazon that’s what the AFTER will be. If you want small business to make it, buy from small businesses.” You vote with your dollars before, during (especially during), and after COVID-19 for the world you want. If you do not need immediate shipping, if you can be patient with small businesses who are having to completely rethink their business models and do not have the same type of manpower as large corporations, if you do not want to make Jeff Bezos even richer as the richest man in the world, if you do not want a world made up of sterile corporations, be thoughtful with your spending power. Things won’t get delivered as fast, things might be slightly more expensive, but please remember you are supporting a small business owner who likely poured their life savings to pursue something that they believed to their core would make this world a better place whether it is through impact, making people happier, or providing a much more personalized service. We can’t just start over whenever the AFTER happens. We already used our savings to put our big idea in the world. 99.9% of us our fighting for our survival in the AFTER. We need consumers to be part of this fight with us, we need them to believe in us as much as we are trying to believe in ourselves during these uncertain times. I know that everyone’s financial situation is shaky right now, but if you are going to spend money please think twice. How does your dollar support the world you want in the AFTER?

A post shared by Katalina Mayorga (@theyoufinder) on

Do you have a go-to summer hang-out recipe that still works for a socially distanced gathering? And/or just a favorite general summer recipe that’s still a go-to, even now? 

We are making a ton of dragon fruit and passion fruit margaritas. We sometimes switch out the tequila for 7 year aged Flor de Cana rum.

What about great summer cocktail or mocktail recipe? 

See above, it sometimes serves as a meal, sometimes as a cocktail. 

What’s on your summer playlist this year, or are there three songs that are permanent summer favorites for you? 

I just discovered that all the Bunkhouse Group Hotels (of El Cosmico in Marfa and Hotel San Cristobal in Todos Santos fame ) have their own playlists and I have been listening to these on repeat. The Hotel Saint Cecilia play list is FIRE. 

Where do you wish you COULD GO this summer, if there were no restrictions or safety risks? 

Guatemala. I have been eyeing The Swell surf hotel on the Pacific Coast for some time now, and this insane Airbnb right on the Rio Dulce where you could literally just dive into the river from your deck. Just need to find 8 more people who will go with me. 

And is there anywhere you’ve been safely going that you could recommend for people who live nearby? Any day trips or local spots worth mentioning, for example? 

Yes! The Appalachian Crooked Road is an absolute must at some point in your life. It is about 5-6 hours from Washington DC, depending on how often you stop.  It is culturally a fascinating location for music. Fun fact: it is where Johnny Cash had his last show. While we went to enclosed venues back in 2015, I am guessing they have moved most performances outdoors.

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