This is not cool at all…

Disclaimer: I have been prodded into writing this opinion piece by people blabbing away on the forums. Many who post on First MERIDA AMIGOS ask reasonable questions or write supportive opinion but there are some who should not be so …

I am Canadian and am often teased by Americans because my countrymen and women are accustomed to prefacing our statements with: “I’m sorry, but …” or “I don’t mean to offend, but…” or “it isn’t my business, but…” And actually, in the USA, there are similar expressions, such as “Bless her heart, but …” or “God love her, but…”
However, to my dismay, in recent years, many Canadians and Americans have replaced the “polite disclaimers” with crude acronyms, such as “WTF…” or “BFD…” or “FFS…” And this is the first point I will make in this post. This dumbing-down of language is personally offensive to me. I don’t think it is necessary to use abbreviations of F-word expressions to describe every collective or compound noun, every subject, object or article… I believe there are equally “colourful” and “forceful” adjectives and adverbs that will adequately express any possible emotion or opinion. So what, some may ask. That’s how I feel, is my answer. And when such three-letter expletives are used to describe a serious situation, I get even more incensed. Any person of substance will say: Serious times and opinion require serious language – or more plainly stated – You should THINK before you spout off in public.

Well, I have thought a lot about what I need to write in this post; and I cannot hold back any longer. I’m tired of hearing and reading so much drivel. Usually “Pollyanna Joanna” keeps quiet or waters down her opinion with platitudes, but sorry, I am NOT into political correctness today.

I am furious with some of the comments I am reading on facebook groups. I don’t care if these people are “just venting” they are insensitive, and behaving in bad taste and are acting against our Yucatecan society’s best interests.

To such individuals, I ask: Did you read the post I wrote yesterday? Do those numbers mean nothing to you? Is it right that you enjoy the beach, restaurants, inexpensive liquor and absence of snow… without feeling any responsibility? And from time to time I have heard some whine that Yucatecans (or Mexicans in general) are not “friendly”. Can you blame them?

Life in Mexico is not easy; you need to have a high income in pesos to live like many “expats” live on a middle class dollar income. About 80% of Mexico’s population does not have disposable income; on their birthdays. they can’t afford to eat in the restaurants where many foreigners casually go for lunch. They get dressed up to attend functions where some foreign residents show up in tank tops and shorts. They politely refrain from saying what they really feel about racist US policy.

And so how do you think they would feel if they realised what you write about them and their governor’s position with regards to the COVID 19 pandemic? Many (not all) of you are guests in Mexico, many (not all) of you have not even bothered to learn more than a few words in Spanish. Many don’t have many (if any) Mexican friends… so why do you think you have the right to spout off?

I think the true purpose of forums is to ask questions and learn from others… the lady who uses an electric scooter is worried how she will get around without someone to lift it in and out of the car. That is a valid question. But those who say they are bored and want the beer sales to come back… I have to hope you are writing to get a rise out of people… and are not truly serious. I also like alcohol, but anyone who puts it before the citizens’ safety has a problem they should look after.

If you do not understand why citizens’ safety is directly related to the availability of alcohol you have probably never driven through an economically challenged area at night. The misery caused by alcohol abuse is enough to make some people quit drinking altogether. Children go without food, wives are beaten, young women and boys are raped by drunks who would not commit such terrible acts if they were sober. And sadly, this behaviour is not exclusive to poor areas. I have met some of the saddest women in Merida in the restroom of the Club Campestre – but that is another story.

I could go on and on; I certainly have lots more I could write with respect to what I consider oafish behaviour. But the crux of this matter is:

You are here. Strict measures are being taken to fight the COVID 19 pandemic, and “my dears” if you don’t want to follow these edicts, go live elsewhere. If your opinion does not support the greater good… keep it to yourself. Don’t have a temper tantrum on public forums. And why do I care?

I care because if Mexicans read such opinion, they will look at me and think I maybe share such sentiments. I have spent most of my life trying to be as respectful as possible to this culture. And I resent being tarred with a negative brush.

This is not cool at all.

How we are handling COVID 19 (today anyways…)


Jorge and I got dressed-up for Easter

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.

Waiting for help…

Be well everyone – stay home – and stay safe.

The Doughnut Economy

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot. Now I’m no economist, but I can see that the conventional model must be replaced with one that is sustainable. We cannot keep using up our un-renewable resources, especially because alternatives do exist. We cannot live on credit; we must accrue real assets we can fall back on. And we cannot continue to ignore the complex issues of the poor; they must receive the support that will make their lives more secure.

We have seen that it is possible for the whole world to almost grind to a halt, and if we continue to live day-to-day, the next pandemic will be even worse for us. And we know it is likely there will be another.

A month and two days ago, on March 11th, COVID 19 was declared a pandemic. And that very day, Jorge and I began our voluntary isolation. We know we’ll still be at this for a while yet; and I admit it is taking an emotional toll. We talk a lot, and we wonder if humanity will learn anything from this experience.

“This experience” – what a weak term to describe the most devastating event of our era. There is not a single country that is not affected. There is nowhere to hide from COVID 19. As I write this post, 108,837 people have died, worldwide. Amongst my circle and on the internet, I hear rumbling and grumbling. According to the orange head-of-state who calls himself (choke, gasp, chortle) a “wartime president”, as soon as the pandemic has passed, “we should just forget about it right away.”

George Santayana, a late 19th – early 20th century philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, said: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. I strongly agree. I Once the crisis is over, I sincerely hope we will not go back to “business as usual”.

But must we have one political ideology? Why can’t we keep some of Capitalism’s drive and combine it with Socialism’s concern for equitable treatment for all. Why are some country leaders so scared of Socialism; many highly productive economies and stable political governments run on basically socialist principals.

I do not know what such a model would look like, but Amsterdam is giving serious thought to a new socio-economic model, and they are positioning to be one of several pilot cities.
You can read a lot about this novel approach, called, the Doughnut Economy, on several sites but none of them are a “lazy-day read”; all the articles I found are extremely detailed, but this one seems the clearest:  Doughnut Cities  By: Professor Herman van den Bosch, Professor at the Open University of The Netherlands.

Doughnut cities

It is a long read, but extremely interesting; following are a few citations from Professor van den Bosch’s writings. I hope you’ll pursue the entire essay.


The doughnut economy

The model for a doughnut economy was developed by the British economist Kate Raworth in a report for Oxfam entitled A Safe and Just Space for Humanity. The idea quickly spread throughout the world.

The essence is that social and environmental sustainability must be guiding principles for economic policy in the 21th century, and together, they will direct economic behavior.
There is no triple bottom-line: if social and environmental sustainability are in the lead, the economy follows.

The idea behind the doughnut model is simple. if you only look at the shape of a doughnut, you see two circles. A small circle in the middle and a large circle on the outside. The smallest circle represents the minimal social objectives (basic-needs) that apply to each country. The large circle represents the self-sustaining capacity of the planet. All societies must develop policies that stay between the two lines. Where economic behavior nowadays has far-reaching consequences that go beyond both lines, future economic policy must aim to make societies thrive between the lines.

Taking the doughnut principle as a point of departure, economic activities that overshoot the ecological ceiling or do not comply with the social basement need to be redesigned, or new sustainable and just activities have to be developed.


Is your head reeling with the idea of so much change? It is a lot to take in, but building a 25 year time frame makes the goals reachable – not easy – but slow and steady wins the race.