Wednesday March 11th, the COVID 19 pandemic was officially announced by the World Health Organization, and we sent our housekeeper, Rosana back to her village with 2 week’s wages, and said we’d be in touch after the end of the month. As the government suggested, Jorge and I began our “voluntary isolation”. Good thing we started early because we had no idea of what “voluntary isolation” actually entails. On March 11th, there were 12 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Mexico.
Between the 11th and the 16th of March, I went shopping in a big enclosed space, AKA the supermarket where I always shop. I was part of the “mask-less and glove-less horde” meandering around, touching items and putting them back in the pile. I saw lots of people greeting each other and laughing as they said, “Remember, no kissing… ha, ha, ha, ha! ” When I got home, I did wash the produce, but I’ve always done that. I did not wipe down any of the packages with alcohol, nor did I shower right away. I did leave my shoes on the porch, but I did not spray them with sanitizer – and horror of horrors – I traipsed all over the interior of our house in the same clothes I’d worn to the supermarket.
Monday March 16th, I realised the error of my ways – the gravity of the situation was sinking in – and I started getting scared. On March 16th, there were 61 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Mexico; 49 new cases in 5 days. The next day, classes were suspended country-wide.
That weekend, Jorge and his brother had a “porch visit”. I set out their chairs, 6 feet apart and I left them so that they could have some “guy time”. When I returned an hour and a half later, there they were – sitting on the same bench, slapping each other on the back and laughing – I went ballistic! Raul retreated and I asked Jorge to shower immediately. I was acting like a crazy person! But he “humoured me”, and I “convinced him” of the importance of all these “exaggerated safety measures”. By March 24th, we had 405 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Mexico; 344 new cases in just 8 days.
Jorge and I moseyed along; the housework was a drag and yet it isn’t all bad news. We found we enjoyed spending all this time together. We were cooking up a storm and by March 26th, I had to accept that the additional kilos showing up on the scale’s readout were NOT just “water retention” – I decided to go on the low carb plan. That lasted a week; I could not stand the reduction of food and alcohol even one more day. When Jorge caught me stuffing a fistful of chips into my mouth, I heard him mutter, “Oh-oh.” I would have to try the “within reason” approach to food.
This would not be easy because the police were sending home anyone they caught walking for exercise. And without burning calories, it is all the harder to keep weight down. But the police’s “exaggerated safety measures” were perfectly justified. On March 26th, there were 848 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Mexico. More than double the previous number of just 2 days ago.
On the last day of March, there were 1,215 confirmed cases of COVID 19. 367 new cases in 5 days, a bit of a decrease in the acceleration rate. My new “workout” now involved more intense house cleaning.
Monday April 7th marked our 1 month “anniversary” of voluntary isolation. By this point we had a better idea of what was OK and what NOT. Our shopping had narrowed down to 4 places: “El Huayito”, a small outdoor market. “Farmacia Camara”, a locally owned drugstore, “Donasusa”, a regional chain of small supermarkets – and yes – “La Perlita”, a neighbourhood bakery. All these establishments are located within 6 blocks of our house. I bless them all for staying open. By April 7th, there were 2,785 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in Mexico. An increase of 1,570 in just a week.
By Monday April 20th, 8,772 cases of COVID 19 had been confirmed. AND of those, there have been 712 fatalities.
Yesterday, Mexico entered Phase 3 of the pandemic. The Siglo XXI Convention Center has been habilitated as a hospital. The police continue trolling for random walkers, and I have come to a compromise with that – I get up at 5 am to walk 2 blocks back and forth along my street – then I do some Yoga stretches and swim 20 laps (not much because our pool is only 8 m. long) I am trying to stay away from starch and sugar and the wine supply is diminishing so I am rationing that.
Right now, the authorities say we will be back to class on June 1st; we’ll see if that actually happens. For the foreseeable future, Jorge and I will continue to have good days when we are organised and optimistic; and I know we’ll also have bad ones when we lay around and feed our fear . We have to accept this; everyone does.
I don’t know if the world will get a grip on this pandemic until we have a vaccine, so Jorge and I will keep on doing just what we’re doing now. So far we have been able to cover all our responsibilities – that’s what it’s all about – the governments of the globe can make recommendations, but, it is up to every person on the planet to act rationally and save lives. The economic pressure is tighter every day, so PLEASE help where you can by continuing to donate $$$ to the community organization of your choice.
Be well everyone – stay home – and stay safe.