It is quiet in town now and strange, the restrictions imposed due to the outbreak of Influenza A (H1N1) have changed the very fabric of the day to day life here. Probably the hardest restriction is no kissing in greeting your friends and acquaintances. The warm embrace and affectionate kiss on one cheek is standard greeting here and is actually part of the joy of living here. It provides warmth and friendship on a daily basis, it creates a circle of friendship in the community, it gives you human contact, a sense of belonging and goodwill. These little sparks of happiness happen many times a day in greeting others surely builds a foundation for the happiness we feel here. But now, we look at each other and say hello, how are you and smile sadly that we cannot greet properly, I swear a little tear appears in many eyes.
As of Friday May 1st, all over Mexico all non-essential businesses, all schools and any businesses that are fully enclosed, have been told to close until May 6, open air restaurants are only allowed 50% capacity. Well that won't be a problem, there is no-one here! John Gray says he'll put his tables outside, I have to see that! Medical clinics, hospitals, food suppliers, Police etc are exempt. Last night in Puerto Morelos the restaurants were mostly open and most had a few tables which looked like all locals to me. Amancia's and Habaneros pretty full.
We still have no confirmed cases in this part of the country even though the majority of people infected, who returned to their countries, had come from Cancun. There are various theories about this. Firstly, many flights from Cancun to other countries actually have to go through Mexico City on the way out so a possibility of infection at the airport. Secondly, it is possible the virus does not thrive in a hot humid environment so when people return to dryer and or colder climates the virus can advance. Thirdly, maybe we have cases and they are so mild they are not diagnosed. Personally, I think the combination of all three gets close to the answer.
The effect of course is dramatic on our and our friends' livelihoods. All the huge All Inclusive Resorts that line this coast are emptying. The hotels are poised to see what will happen next week, no-one wants to lay off the thousands and thousands of workers who service these hotels, let alone all the services who supply them. However, they have started closing - Hotel Me in Cancun, Royal Solaris, 5 of the 7 Palace resorts and probably more today. Restaurants in Cancun are down to 2 or 3 tables at night. Snorkelling, diving, fishing and tour companies sit idle. All outdoor sporting activities have been stopped as well as any other outdoor event for the public. And conspiracy theories are abound. The list goes on and on of the closures that will have a dreadful economic impact on the general population.
Out of the 500 confirmed cases of the flu in Mexico, 19 have died (WHO) due to this virus either because the strain is slightly different or they sought medical assistance too late, a very common problem here. In the U.S.A, an estimated 25–50 million cases of the flu are currently reported (reported!) each year — leading to 150,000 hospitalizations and 30,000–40,000 deaths yearly. If these figures were to be estimated incorporating the rest of the world, there would be an average of approximately 1 billion cases of flu, around 3–5 million cases of severe illness, and 300,000–500,000 deaths annually. (Source: Roche Laboratories).
So what, in heaven's name, are they doing to us?
I just wanted to let you know how we are here and that we are all well and we are taking the only precautions we can, staying in PM as much as possible, washing hands a lot and taking our vitamins. Cancun appears to have sold out of Vitamin C! We are hoping this passes quickly and we can see you all again.
The bazaar went off swimmingly well we raised 12000 pesos which is great, about a third of what we need for completing the classroom. The chilli and hot dogs sold very well and there were loads of bargains, treasures, holiday reading and local handicrafts. A great big thank you to all the volunteers who made it all work like a charm on the day. The charity really needs volunteers to take on projects, managing the sponsorship project, liaising with the firemen, coordinating medical projects, fund raising projects, legal advice project and much more. The fishing competition last weekend did not go so well, very bad weather caused port closure first day and poor weather and other bad fishy luck meant a small catch and the winner (from Cozumel) bringing in a small Mahi Mahi. There was a gathering at Franks to see off Ron and Sue off home for a few months after completion of their house. The Tea house re- opened as Aldea recently with locals coming out in support and enjoying the healthy fare. There was a competition last weekend of local charros and escarmarusas recently at Hacienda Santa Isabela near Bonfil where I went to see the talented women riders exhibit their skills and compete to go onto State level, a lot of fun with great music and barbecue. A recent corporate event at the El Rey Polo Country Club saw the wonderful Mayan Dancers doing the 'smoking' ritual ceremony of protection before our demonstration polo match. The 3rd Copa Del Rey is on next weekend! Saturday and Sunday from 3pm, there are 5 teams of players who come from Argentina, Dominican Republic, Canada and other parts of Mexico. As it is a private event on private property we can proceed but I can tell you it has been little tricky to organise but we are expecting a good crowd as there is very little else to do! So dust out those glam clothes and come along to the Opening on Saturday and the Ladies Hat Brunch on Sunday. There will be games on Friday 15th and then the finals Saturday 16th as well. See you there!