Hailing from Viña del Mar in Chile, photographer Sofia Gomez Fonzo moved to Ibiza with her camera in February 2011, and has been running her own business as a freelance photographer since 2016, She loved the freedom this gave her to travel the world when the island entered its annual winter hibernation, however the global travel restrictions and lockdowns caused by COVID-19 recently turned Sofia’s world upside down. “I’d just been through a big ‘letting go’ phase,” she remembers. “I left my apartment in Ibiza last year, got rid of most things, and then flew everything important – including my cat and photography equipment – to my boyfriend Luca’s place in Italy.”
After a trip to see Sofia’s family in Chile, the pair headed off to travel through Thailand and the Philippines. “Life in the tropics is easy. I had only a backpack with a few tropical clothes, my travel yoga mat, iPad, kindle and travel camera,” says Sofia. “The moment we arrived in Asia in January, the COVID-19 news was already big but everyone there wears masks anyway. Overall, it felt very safe and under control.” Things quickly escalated however, and as they watched Italy close its borders, they realised Spain would not be far behind. On March 11, they embarked on an epic trip that got them back to Ibiza two days before the lockdown. For Sofia, this route meant forgoing her professional equipment (and cat!) and embracing a life of uncertainty, but living in the moment.
Describe your current Ibiza lockdown situation? Thankfully some friends had a spare room to rent Luca and I in the campo during the lockdown, until we can find a place to live permanently. It’s a beautiful Ibiza style finca with lots of land and no neighbours nearby. There are five of us, two girls and three guys, all Italian except for me. We all do our own thing in the day, then we usually have dinner together and have really fun parties on Sundays. Sundays are bonding time – we all play our music and dance, I really enjoy it. The neighbour’s dog sometimes visits us and there are some feral cats that come to ask for food. That makes me happy because I love having animals around.
What is your daily life like now? I haven’t been able to work, so life is actually not that different to how I remember it being in Ibiza in winters many years ago. I’m barefoot all day, lay around in the campo, look at the bugs, take the sun, read, draw, learn new things… I like to wake up and just go wherever the day takes me. Sometimes it doesn’t take me anywhere, sometimes it’s full of experiences, and I like that. I’m really blessed to be staying in the countryside so I can be in nature and connect with myself and plants. I love noticing the details and how nature changes. I’ve been ‘slow-living’, waking up around midday or when I naturally wake up. If I feel like it, I do some pranayama or meditation in the sun or do some movement and prepare breakfast for me and Luca. We like to start our day well and positive. I found a quiet little terrace with views to the countryside under the sun that I like a lot, we walk around the house, make dinner and share some moments next to the fireplace. We go to sleep past midnight, sometimes very late, but for me it’s been just nice to explore different ways of living. Simple living.
How are you feeling on a personal level right now? I have been through all the feelings! I still want to go out and do all the things and get distracted by life around me, but it’s been good to listen, feel and go inside.
Who or what do you miss most right now? Doing whatever I want, my freedom of movement and choice. I’m a very spontaneous person – I like to take the car and go around and find whatever place calls me, or spend hours walking around, or being in the water. I really miss the sea. I haven’t even seen the sea, only from the plane when I was landing on the island. And I haven’t been in it since last December!
What’s been most the challenging thing for you throughout this experience? Adapting. It all escalated so quickly. One day I was on a tropical island with a hundred plans for the future and flights booked, the next, I’m locked down in Ibiza without clothes, cameras, computer, none of my stuff, or my cat, or car, or my own place. Then all the work I had booked for this season got postponed to 2021, which gave me a lot of anxiety. I learned a lot about control and surrender.
Have you felt like you had enough support to deal with this? Being in this environment has helped me a lot. I have a great partner. We support each other and have fun together (even when things go so crazy you have to cross the world in the middle of a pandemic!). Having other people in the house means you never feel lonely and you can help each other out too. It’s been a difficult and transformative situation of ‘you’ve got nothing, no things, nothing to do, nowhere to be, no money to make, no people to meet, no expectations, no nothing’ – which was a moment that left me so lost – so I had to practice trusting and letting go of everything. I’ve been living in the present, day by day, taking care of myself, resting, making space to receive all that’s going to come when it’s time.
Has there been anything else about the lockdown experience you’ve enjoyed? I’m so grateful for all the healing self-practices that keep my energy moving, that I’ve learnt over the years, Reiki, crystal healing, yoga, pranayama and meditation. I am a creative. I’ve painted and made things since I was a kid, so I always feel this need to create. I learned how to draw on the iPad. That gave me a little escape from the worry. Creating is a great tool to stay present and connected. For example one, day I went to look at all the different wild flowers and plants and felt the need to learn more about them. After I did that, I thought of collecting them to make smudge sticks. I’d wanted to do it for years and in this moment, I had the luxury to just sit around wild flowers and make things simply for the joy of it. I’ve drawn some sacred geometry, I drew and coloured yantras to do chakra meditation and healing, I’ve made collages… I’ve loved taking the time to do things for myself I wouldn’t normally do.
How do you keep in touch with the outside world? I only use Instagram and Facebook really – not much has changed for me in that aspect. I’m just posting less stories because there’s not much going on! I’ve been more online and onscreen naturally. I speak with people online but I live more in-house. I’ve never been a fan of phone calls or video chat so I don’t do that now either. What I’ve started to do differently is go through all the photos on my phone and find things that make me happy about living in Ibiza. I don’t worry so much about the quality or if it’s ‘Instagram-able’ enough – it’s mainly for the feeling of it. I’ve been sharing this with my followers and what I’ve noticed is that we all miss and love similar things. I’ve started to talk more with friends thanks to this as well. Memories bring us together and I love seeing all the posts about things people are grateful for.
What’s been entertaining you during this period? On Sundays, I’ve been the social media geek for the DJ live streaming Luca does (@lookabarbi). It’s been fun. We set up the table in between the wild flowers in the campo under the sun and dance. I don’t watch much online apart from some DJ sets my friends have posted. At nights we watch movies (my favourite so far was re-watching The Royal Tenenbaums), or I read on my Kindle. During quarantine I’ve read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, that I recommend to creatives, or Witch for some more feminine vibes. At the moment I’m reading Natural Magic and The Universe Has Your Back. I like to read things that uplift me and teach me something.
How is your general health and wellbeing right now? Overall, I’m a very healthy person because I’ve taken care of what I do and what I put in my body for years now. I’ve been taking multi-vitamins daily since I was in the tropics, and I added 5HTP pills when I got to Ibiza. I put superfoods in my daily green smoothies, take some colloidal silver and oregano oil to boost the immune system and drinking kombucha is a must for me. Some days my body is very stiff and I have to work out ways to make things right for me internally and also physically, as both are connected. My mental health has been more affected than my physical for sure, but at the moment I’m feeling well and balanced.
What are your eating habits like these days? I have two meals a day, start with a big breakfast of fruit and veggies and then have a comforting dinner later on. I always have tea or a juice during the day and kombucha around aperitivo time. I eat very clean but I also eat pasta and chocolate – for me the balance works. I’ve been a vegetarian for eight years but I’m not a great cook (although I’ve been told my white rice is the best!). I’ve learnt a lot about food and what it does to my body and the planet, so I always buy local and organic if possible and try to not cook things too much. I’m so happy to be in this house because our neighbour has an organic farm and we buy veggies from him. It’s amazing to be able to eat food that has so much life force and no carbon footprint.
Are you factoring exercise and movement into your time spent indoors? I did my yoga teacher training last year and I must say it was just in time. Now I do what my body and mind needs on the day. I don’t practice every day, but always go wherever my body needs some extra love, even if it means just sitting and moving my arms and neck in every way possible to get a stretch while listening to Spotify… or nothing. Some days doing nothing is needed and I like to listen to that too. Vinyasa yoga is my main practice (usually with some good electronic music to get my vibe high and moving) but on other days I feel more like practicing Yin yoga (especially when it’s rainy or cold). And sometimes I feel like practicing next to Luca when he puts on his Alo Moves classes, they’re nice!
How has the lockdown impacted your business and industry? All my photography work starting from April has been cancelled or moved, and all the weddings – except for one – got postponed to 2021. I’m grateful that things only get moved and not totally cancelled, but it was hard to swallow. I also felt sorry for everybody else involved so it didn’t make me worry just for myself. We’re all in this together. It’s totally uncertain what I’ll be doing this season – having adventures for sure. It’s a way to spice things up, I suppose!
How do you manage your stress levels during such uncertain times? Yoga helps so much. Taking space for myself, being in nature. Basically anything that takes away the energy from my mind back to my heart. I sat and made a list of things that work, things that don’t, what I can do to fix them or what cannot be fixed so then I could let it go. I like to write or draw things so they’re out of my head. They become material so it’s easier to see the big picture. Being ‘pre-occupied’ doesn’t work for me, I either choose to be ‘occupied’ or think about something else. After that just play, do something I enjoy or just cry and get over it. Exhale and keep moving.
What are your hopes for Ibiza in the future? I feel like people from Ibiza have always been very warm and collaborative and you can really feel that now too. I hope we can all be together very soon, enjoying this beautiful place that gives us all and more than we need. I hope that we move into a sustainable way of tourism where we take care of the quality of what we put out there instead of just filling up places and raising prices just because there are people queuing to get in.
Do you have any fears for the future of the island?Don’t feed the fears!
What about your own future – how is that looking right now? No idea! Gotta get my cameras first (haha).
Is there anywhere else you’d rather be quarantined than Ibiza? Ibiza is the best place ever (even Nostradamus said it!). We knew that when we made the decision to come back early. I’m from a country where we have earthquakes and military in the streets every time something happens, so this is really heaven on earth! It’s always been my favourite place in the world and feels like home. That’s all that matters
What are you most looking forward to when the lockdown restrictions are lifted? I’m so looking forward to get in the sea, going to the beach all day long, walking around the forests and watching the sunset at Es Vedra. And as soon as it’s safe, I’m looking forward to going dancing – I was really looking forward to that all winter!