March 13, 2020
The weather here in central Mexico has been very hot and dry for the past couple of weeks. There’s some dust blowing around from the parched earth, and additionally, some farmers are burning off their fields. As usual, that’s given me a slight cough, and I also wake with nasal congestion. On the combi micro-bus coming home from town today, I noticed two other people with a similar condition. Nobody looked concerned.
Mexico’s response to the virus (no one says ‘COVID-19’) has been laid back. But then, it would be. The Mexican relationship to death and dying is full of irony and humour, harking way back to when human sacrifice was a regular religious requirement. All the souvenir stalls in town sell painted ceramic skulls, or mugs and t-shirts with skull imagery, and you’re all aware of some of the Days of the Dead traditions in November. Death is always waiting round the corner anyway, is the attitude: sit back and have another tequila while you’re waiting for Her.
A mug in my kitchen.
So far, no-one is cancelling events or school programs. There’s a weekend music festival in town that’s going ahead, and no doubt the cafes and bars will be full of visitors. There are no warning posters around related to hand-washing or appropriate coughing.
In part, it’s also because we’re trusting that dry heat to keep us relatively safe. And also in part, it’s because the various levels of government are not testing very much, so our tally of affected people – just a dozen last night – is not very accurate. There are no alarming death-counts showing up yet.
Other than avoiding handshakes, in case my cough is about more than just the dryness, I’m carrying on my life as usual. Only one of my neighbours is truly worried, mostly I think because he has no real family any more, and fears no-one would look after him if he falls sick.
My own concern is that my tourist visa is up in April, and I’m supposed to come back to Toronto for a week or two, then return to Mexico to renew it, as I do twice every year. Right now, it looks like flights will be cancelled before then, so I’ll have to do the thing I least want to do: go to the Mexico City airport to renew it.
If a real epidemic does break out here, people understand that they’ll have to fend for themselves, since the health services aren’t fully prepared. I keep a few days’ supply of food for myself and the dogs here at all times, as well as fresh drinking water, which I buy in reusable bottles.
Otherwise, like everyone else, I wait. And, the dryness and smoke aside, enjoy the warm, sunny weather.