With the Corona Virus (COVID-19) spreading around the globe, I have been asked to address this in my next post. I hope that wherever you are, that you are safe, taking precautions, have adequate supplies on which to live and have adequate resources in the form of income, savings, childcare and understanding bosses.
We are a small rural village here in western, central Mexico. Our nearest airport is an hour away, and it is tiny – one story tall and about the size of a large restaurant. Mexico City Airport is 12 hours away by bus and Guadalajara airport is 3 hours north of here. Colima City is an hour away by bus or about 30-40 minutes away by car.
We have no bank, no post office, no big hospital – although we do have a small clinic, no supermarket or big box stores like Home Depot or Sears. What we do have is small grocery stores plus specialty stores, such as the butcher, vegetable market and bakery. So we really don’t have to travel out of the village very often. We have a preschool and a primary school in the village, and students in secondary and high school need to travel outside of the village to attend.
We have a farmer’s market which comes to the village every Tuesday. Except for big holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, or when someone get married or has a Quinceañera celebration, it’s pretty quiet around here. Most of the noise, outside of the firecrackers and bands for every celebration, will be dogs barking and roosters crowing (roosters don’t only crow in the mornings, they crow all day long).
We also have the main office of Project Amigo here – a literacy project that gives scholarships to local children here in Cofradía de Suchitlán and surrounding villages. Several times per year, we welcome volunteers from many countries, but mostly from the United States and Canada.
With the virus spreading throughout the world, Project Amigo felt it was wise to cancel the next few volunteer work weeks, so as to limit the possibility of spreading the virus further – especially since you could have the virus but show no symptoms for 2-14 days.
Schools here are closed for a month and Catholic churches are not celebrating Masses. I heard the Masses will be broadcast on TV or on the internet for those who want to attend. Teachers are giving their students assignments to study and homework to do until school begins again.
My New Year’s resolution was to become more physically fit, and so in January, my neighbor Lourdes and I began going to the gym in the nearby town of Comala. Now we have decided that it would be a good idea to just exercise as best we can at home, since with all the sweaty people exercising, everyone touching the same equipment, and it being hard to avoid touching your face as you want to wipe the sweat away, it’s probably a good idea to avoid the gym for now.
As of today, March 18th, there have been 118 confirmed cases throughout our entire country. And as of today, it is almost impossible to find hand gel and many other supplies, though the other day I went into Colima City and found shelves fully stocked.
For those of us who are expats, travel to visit the U.S. is on hold right now. I thought I had read that Aeromexico had cancelled all international flights, but now I just read that they are scaling back their flights, not cancelling them altogether. It is sometimes very confusing to get up-to-date information, and it seems to be changing frequently.
If I had been planning to go to the U.S. now, I most probably would be cancelling, as we see videos of U.S. airports screening passengers after they disembark. The people are packed like sardines in a tin and are like that for hours as they wait to be processed. In my mind, if even one of those passengers is infected, they have now infected many more people simply by having them in close quarters for so long.
So I am very lucky to be living here as opposed to a large, crowded city. Everyone here is either related to many others or are close like family. Generations live under the same roof, and if anyone should need help, there are plenty of people willing to help.
Meanwhile, the governor of our state has set up a WhatsApp account that we can join to receive information directly from our government, which helps to avoid false or misleading information.
So we are living our quiet lives here, avoiding crowds, homeschooling the children, helping each other out and hopefully by our actions minimizing the risk of more people becoming infected.
And, again, my hope for all of you is that you stay safe and well and that with caring for ourselves and others, the curve will flatten and the worst will pass before very long.