The plague year

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This is not how it is.

THINGS ARE moving along relatively peacefully in my end of the world, plague-wise. Four cases of Kung Flu have been reported in our state just recently, the first ones. All four people had returned recently from Europe.

There are many advantages to living in Mexico. One is that stores still have merchandise. This morning I drove down the mountainside early to the nearby capital city to visit Costco and Chedraui, which is a Walmart-like Mexican chain. I arrived at both just after they opened because they open at different hours.

Few people were waiting at either door. I rapidly passed through both well-stocked stores, paid, hopped into the Honda and headed home. There was plenty of T-P in both places. I bought a few more rolls just in case.

Meanwhile, I see photos of supermarkets above the border stripped bare.

The reaction down here between Gringos and Mexicans is quite a contrast too. The Gringos are hunkering down in their houses, quivering in their Crocs. The Mexican reaction is far calmer. The Gringo- and Canuck-infested pueblo of Ajijic is almost a ghost town, I hear. Probably San Miguel de Allende is too.

Yesterday we ate in one of our favorite restaurants downtown, Casa del Naranjo. We were the first customers to arrive at the traditional 2 p.m. Mexican lunch hour, but by the time we left about 45 minutes later, there were about 12 other diners, all Mexicans.

No one was quivering in their boots. Jollity prevailed.

The waiters wore face masks and gloves, and the restaurant gave customers a 20 percent discount on paying with cash, which I did. I’m a cash man, as are most Mexicans. There was a big bottle of disinfectant gel at the register.

Later we walked across the plaza to my sister-in-law’s coffee shop. No one there was wearing face masks or gloves, and there was no hand gel. It was business as usual.

I had a nice café Americano negro.

Looking at this year’s plague I see engaging elements.

  1. Political. The U.S. news media, mostly an arm of the Democrat Party, are going wild. That affects the media in other nations and even the conservative U.S. media. Sad. I do not know to what extent, but to some degree their aim is to torpedo Trump. This is causing grievous economic damage.
  2. Hysteria. Do you remember the 2009-10 swine flu epidemic in the United States? Likely not. There were 60 million cases and over 12,000 fatalities. In contrast, the Kung Flu has killed to date about 500 Americans out of about 41,000 cases. Sure, it will get worse, but that much worse? Ninety-five percent of cases are mild.

And how will it end? Here is an interesting look by a prominent physician familiar with the situation. He outlines various possibilities.

We’re eating at home today, chicken and rice. Later we’ll head downtown for the customary sit on the plaza. Then we’ll come home and wash our hands.

The dead are coming

Muertos

WALKING AROUND the downtown plaza on a lovely, cool, October afternoon today, I noticed these windows across the street and their Day of the Dead banners.

Yes, the Day of the Dead approaches. It’s when we celebrate dead people, most of whom hereabouts are found in cemeteries, just like where you live.

This will be my 15th Day of the Dead, or Los Muertos as the natives call it, and it’s changed quite a bit in that time, mostly for the better. Every year a tianguis, which is a street market, comes to the downtown plaza. My first year, in 2000, it was poorly organized, butt ugly, and included lots of five-and-dime junk. That’s changed.

Now it’s nicely organized, covered by a uniform tent all around, and most of the junk is gone. Artisans from all over our state — and beyond — come to sell stuff, and lots of that stuff is creative and beautiful.

The primary draw, of course, is not the tianguis but the eerie, candlelit night in the cemeteries, which can be quite moving and incredible if there aren’t too many tourists underfoot. Best to choose your cemetery with care.

Our town is one of Mexico’s primary tourist destinations for Los Muertos. With luck, it will be a raging success this year because the merchants need that. We’ve had a bad rep for years, due to the dumb U.S. media* bludgeoning us on a regular basis because of “narco violence,” most of which does not affect tourists in the slightest.

But it’s hit tourism hard.

Narco violence, such as it ever was, has pretty much vanished. The touchiest times occurred about five years ago hereabouts, and a year or two ago there were problems in remote, rural areas of the state, but that’s blown over too. You’re safer here than in most of the United States today. Believe it.

But our reputation lives on, sadly. And the U.S. media continue to misrepresent and harm us.

Yes, most of the dead are in the cemeteries, and you will not be among them. Not horizontally, at least.

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* The U.S. State Department is no better with its warnings issued by clueless officials who’ve obviously never set foot in our tranquil, picturesque area.