Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What Next?

First the drug war fears is keeping people away from Mexico. We were hard hit during Spring Break and tourism is way down, to say the least.

And now this Swine Flu. People are starting to go crazy because of it. As I write this, the USA has basically told people to stay away unless absolutely necessary. Many other countries are following suit. Things are going to get tough around here and in all of Mexico if the tourist market drops off. That scares me more than the flu. No tourists in Mexico = no money = increase in crime.

It looks like the epicenter of this current outbreak did not occur in Mexico City. The first reported case here was to a 13 year old lad in the state of Veracruz, just across the border from Mexico City. By the end of today (Tuesday) the number of suspected cases here in Mexico should top the 2000 mark.

Almost every kind of public business or event in Mexico City has been closed down. Restaurants are serving only "to go" food. The footage coming out of there looks like a ghost town. Schools nationwide have been ordered closed until at least May 6. That includes la isla. (despite what many people think, we are not an extension of Disneyland but part of Mexico!)

Downtown today we noticed a lot of people wearing surgical masks. We have also noticed people have stopped shaking hands and there are only air kisses being thrown. No cheek to cheek kissing which is the norm here. We have had our first suspected case reported here, so this thing is spreading. I expected it to happen here. After all, we just came off Easter week when thousands of national tourists flock to our beaches...most from Mexico City!

Am I worried? No. Am I concerned and cautious? Yes. We've decided to practice "social distancing" for awhile. Keeping people at least 6 feet (2 meters) away when possible, avoiding the grocery store and using up our stores of food* and limiting our trips to town and interaction with people. We'll just see where this thing is going....hopefully away. But I doubt that.

* our friend, Lisa in Cancun, reports that people are making runs on the grocery stores there. Acting like WWIII is about to break out or that a major hurricane is on its' way. I guess I don't see the necessity for that kind of panic.


norm said...

I priced Cancun/Cleveland round trip today, nonstop $200 plus tax. It was close to $500 last year this time of year. Are the hotels open?

American Mommy in Mexico said...

"Am I worried? No. Am I concerned and cautious? Yes."

Pretty much describes our status too.

Life's a Beach! said...

I only watch news in the evenings now, and the cases seem to be growing in the U.S. Some of the cases carried out of Mexico were people who vacationed in Cancun. I'm just glad I hadn't planned on flying anywhere right now since airplanes are big disease factories. They showed the little boy from the village around Veracruz last night on CNN. They're speculating he was patient #1. I heard last night it could fade out now and come back next flu season? By then they should have a vaccine for it (but we all know how effective those vaccines are since the viruses mutate by the time they're manufactured)!

I think most people are in denial about the whole 'global pandemic' thing and think it's a concept manufactured by the media. At least that's the jest I get from message boards. We think that only happened in our grandparents' era. Normally, my exposure would have been limited because I didn't work. Kind of ironic that I'm now in the workplace. I'd better stock up on blue masks!

Islagringo said...

norm: hotels are open here on the island. I have heard of no closings yet in Cancun.

american mommy: where are you in Mexico?

lab: there is speculation now that the first case may have come from Oaxaca. I bet we never find out.

jackie said...

Just finished chatting with a friend in Mexico City. She said that she is fine just bored from not leaving her house. I am going to go call to see if I can delay my flight. I think it is much safer on Isla than the Cancun airport where I could be stuck due to overbooked fights.I am hoping to stay until Monday. Nibardo said he has a room for me even though last week I saw his books and he was full. He must have had some cancellations.

CancunCanuck said...

Life is pretty normal here in Cancun except for the schools being closed. I was at the mall, Soriana and Walmart and did not witness ANY panic shopping, just normal crowds with normal shopping carts. The only things not available were alcohol hand gel and Lysol, everything else was well stocked. Nobody is freaking out, but people are worried about their jobs and livelihoods. Stay cool Gringo.

Swanky said...

My theory is, all those sick who were at Cancun flew through Mexico City. On th eway in, no sick people. In Cancun, no sick people. On the way out, sick people boarded in Mexico City and they were exposed and got sick later. So, Q. Roo has been flu free.

We are scheduled to be there on May23rd. Waiting to see about the 5 suspected cases reported. Will it be all fine, or will there suddenly be lots of cases? We are tryign to figure out what to do...

Nancy said...

I am really worrying about the little guys here in Mazatlan. All the cruise ships have cancelled their stops here, that is many thousands of tourists every week. And the beaches are empty. Office Depot and Mega were full of people with face masks.

They've closed discos and bars and that kind of thing at night here, and of course schools are closed.

I just don't know how all these people who are already poor are going to make it. As much as I can I will give if the occasion presents itself.

I have my fingers crossed for a quick solution. I wish there was something else I could do.

Calypso said...

Hopefully this will pass rapidly and not be a pandemic event.

It irritates me that surgical masks have tripled in price in DF. Being an opportunist during an event such as this is quite ugly.

Stay Healthy Amigo

Kevin (scubakevin) said...

I think first it is important to note that some of the data in this is incorrect and so let me set the record straight.

The "epicenter" is not a 13 year old boy it was a 5 year old boy from "PEROTE" Veracruz a part of the mountain area north of Xalapa the Capital. Mexico City and Perote is separated by the state of Puebla (they are not border states) and the case is suspected to be the first of the cases but nobody seems to be able to connect the dots.

As a member of the international press I would love to know where you got information of a case in Isla Mujeres? There are no reported cases at least not as of an hour ago in Quintana Roo although 4 suspected cases were sent to Chetumal for analysis.

Yes, there have been closings in the area as a result of the Flu. In Playa Del Carmen all night clubs with capacities of 1000 or more are ordered closed. El Reven, Coco Bongo, Dubai, Mambo Café and Cielito Lindo are amongst them.

Isla Deb said...

They shut down all the schools in our city of New Braunfels, Texas, until May 11th starting today because there have been a few reported cases in our county. The whole thing just seems kind of crazy to me. But I'll have to admit that when I went into the public bathroom today in our building and heard an occupant in one of the stalls start coughing, I turned around and went out. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

Islagringo said...

kevin: first, you are correct that Veracruz does not border Mexico. I should have grabbed my map and checked better. second, read the post again. I never said there was a case here on the island. I said there was a "suspected" case. Por Esto reported today that it was a false alarm. Third, as an international journalist, you should also be aware that there is also a suspect in Oaxaca being billed as the first case. Nobody wants credit, everybody wants credit. For more information on the widespread closings, read some of the comments I am getting from first hand accounts. Thanks for your input.

The rest of you: thanks for your input on this important subject right now.

robm said...

I arrive on the Isla Saturday night, and I'm delighted to be staying at Casa de los Amigos in La Gloria. After evaluating the situation, separating the hype from what seems actually to be going on, I will not be deterred from enjoying the Isla. If anything, the precautions that the Mexican authorities are taking at airports and ferry docks will make me feel safer than here in the US. And México is a big country...the Isla is closer to Cuba than it is to DF.

At any rate, I plan to tweet at intervals to describe the experience of vacationing on Isla amidst this advertised "pandemic". If you wish, follow me on Twitter @robmarais.

taramfarquhar said...

Best info anywhere!! Thank you!!! We are heading to Playacar and Isla Mujeres mid June. Maybe I will get the flu in Seattle first. (3 probable cases in city) Great way to get bikini ready and get immunity for the trip! Not funny, I know.

We're still planning on our holiday. Just need to know if we need to make alternate arrangements for food, activities and entertainment.

Keep the updates coming!

Anonymous said...

We're still planning to travel to isla the last week in may for our honeymoon that we've been planning since last year. I'm going to take all the neccessary precautions when we get there and just be smart. I'm not worried or in panic.

Any advice on things to pack? Hand gel sanitizer? Gloves and mask for the plane and airport?