With this pandemic truly changing societies worldwide, Canadian expat Ana Fernandez writes from her home in Mexico that some of the distinctions between North America and “south of the border” are quickly being erased.
Back in 2011, when I made the big move from Canada to the comfy climes of Mexico, never would I have imagined that I would find myself stuck indoors for weeks on end. No access to a beach or to even just bask in the glorious abundant sunshine that I have become so accustomed to. I am becoming paler by the minute!
Here in Mazatlan, on the Pacific coast, we have been in the Phase 3 coronavirus alert level since late April; this is the most serious of all the levels. It also means that we have not yet reached the peak. The reality of this pandemic here has been slower for us to process for many reasons. Some have a cavalier attitude towards it. Perhaps because Mexico has a very high youth population. About 44% of the population here are under 25.
At the moment, we have been told that the numbers being reported are likely very understated. In a nation where diabetes rates are the highest in the world, it’s not a stretch to imagine that death rates in Mexico from Covid19 will be very high when all is said and done.
Testing has not been as widespread as in other countries. Like other countries, the government here has been slow to respond, but less likely from denial and more likely from its fear of the economic impact in a society whose majority of citizens rely on income from street sales and casual day work.
Culturally too, the sacrifices needed are difficult to adjust to. In a culture that’s similar to Italy’s, close physical contact and affection are the norms, while social distancing is not a natural thing. Recently, Children’s Day and Mother’s Day saw many people out and about purchasing cakes, pinatas, gifts, and food to share with their family members. My state’s governor was so incensed with people’s massive disregard for his order not to gather, that he even extended the ban on liquor sales another two weeks! Yes, we are in a dry environment, in Mexico, on top of everything else.
Currently, everyone is supposed to wear a mask when outdoors (although, sadly, many do not and there is little enforcement). The beaches and hotels have been closed down for several weeks now. Most restaurants have also closed and are boarded up, or have switched to take-out or delivery service only.
All of us seniors (here it is ages 60+) are encouraged to stay home. In fact, some stores will ask for your ID and won’t even allow seniors inside to do their shopping. Can you imagine trying to find a “fake” I.D. at our age? One that makes us “younger,” no less? Seems ironic. However, some places are making concessions and allowing us “old folks” to shop between 7 and 9 in the morning.
For myself, having to be home -based was not a big transition as I have been working remotely for a few years now. However, watching my fellow seniors struggle to learn technologies they have been avoiding for a long time has been an interesting dynamic to this sometimes unnerving experience.