Oaxaca Speaks: COVID-19 Report #3 — Elsa Sanchez Diaz

Elsa is a family member. She is my goddaughter, married to my godson Eric. I’ve known her for 14 years. She is pure Oaxaqueña, born and raised in the La Noria section of the city. In addition to hearing from people who look like me, aka foreigners, I think it’s important to take the pulse of locals, too. We are moving without a compass through this very serious time of navigation with an enemy, COVID-19, a virus we cannot see, touch or feel until it touches us.

As with others, these are the questions I asked Elsa along with her answers:

Norma: Are you going out at all?

Elsa: No, I am staying at home. Eric is going to Chedraui to buy things. The person who lives in and helps in my mother’s house is going into the market that is close to us, just once in a week.

N: What is your experience overall?

E: I am worried because not many people in the beginning were taking restrictions abut this virus. People continue to work.

N: Why did you decide to stay at home?

E: Because my mom is alone even when my brother came every day to see her. She won’t leave the house because she is worried about her dogs, and also about leaving the house alone.

N: What are you observing?

E: I see now that people are trying to take more restrictions about washing hands etc… There are no tourists, but people from Oaxaca continue going to the market to buy stuff etc. The other important thing is that police are on the streets asking to people to go home and not to stay in parks, etc…

N: What are people telling you about corona virus?

E: Well, that it is a virus that comes from China and the best way to avoid it is wash your hands, don´t touch your face, and try not to go out of the house.

N: What is worrying you most?

E: We don’t have the health infrastructure. Doctors say that many hospitals don’t have masks, glasses, equipment, etc. And I am very worried for my mom, Eric’s mom, and my grandma.

Also the worst for this virus is coming in these next weeks and I am scared about it. I hope everything is fine, and that nobody that I know dies.

And for me the other thing I am worry about it, is my work! We depend on the tourism and what I am reading is people won’t travel maybe until October. I continue working to dye fabric and cotton yarn, and maybe I can ship some of it.

And how are you Normie? I have Santiago at home, so I can’t answer fast because I am trying to play with him more than usual. Eric told me that you are staying with Jacob. That was the best  decision.

March 25, 2020: Mexico News Daily report about Oaxaca stay-at-home measures.

Norma’s Notes:

Elsa’s dad died last month from pancreatic cancer, within a year after he was diagnosed. She is worried about her mom, recently diagnosed with diabetes and her mother-in-law, who is also diabetic. They are at risk, as is her over-80 year old grandmother. Eric works for a progressive organization that closed their doors early last week, and he is now working from home. Their two-year-old son, Santiago, like many others his age, wants social interaction and stimulation. We can magnify Elsa’s story a zillion times around the world.

As for me, I’m in Huntington Beach, California with my son Jacob who forbids me to go into any store. Our physical shopping is now down to once a week. He goes. We sanitize. Online is how we manage the essentials now. Just like you!

A Note About Grief from Sarah Resnick, owner of GIST: Yarn & Fiber, who says it much better than I ever could. I believe we are all grieving for our freedom, a way of life we took for granted. Elsa is grieving the death of her father magnified with the fear she has for her loved ones with compromised immune systems.

And this is what Mexico is doing. Thanks to Jenny Brinitzer for sending this my way:

Please stay healthy, everyone.

14 responses to “Oaxaca Speaks: COVID-19 Report #3 — Elsa Sanchez Diaz

  1. I read another article earlier today about grief. It was so helpful. I was feeling so bad and to name my complex of feelings as grief really lifted it. To name it helps so much.


    • Deborah, thanks for writing and sharing. You are grieving a significant loss in your life. This, on top of what we all face now, can be overwhelming. I feel it, too. So much to grieve for — especially our health care providers who don’t have the proper equipment to do their jobs and are putting their own lives at risk to take care of ours. With you in this. Big hugs, Norma

  2. Dear Elsa,

    Please know that you are not alone. I hope that you might find some comfort in knowing that. I have never been to Mexico. My dear friend, Diana, sent this to me so that I could learn about Oaxaca. How do you pronounce it? I am a winter visitor to San Diego from central Kentucky. I am supposed to fly home next Wednesday. I hope the flights will continue, but I am afraid that they may not. I am trying not to let my fear paralyze me. I hope that I will be able to visit Oaxaca with Diana next year! Stay safe, breathe deep. Kathy

  3. It is so weird being isolated and just waiting and wondering. Normally I would create paintings but all I can muster right now is giving my bedroom walls a fresh coat.
    And I wait. And I worry about so many people I hold dear all over the world. All of us hunkering down in our own little worlds and wondering what kind of hit we will take.
    Yes the loss of freedom to move about is being grieved mightily .
    Norma I had worried terribly about this virus but I never dreamed how isolating this situation would be.
    Hold on.

    • Jenny, you were right to worry. You were an early adopter when in late February I thought all fears were over-reacting — true confession. Thankfully, I came around in short order! For me, then, being in Mexico was a shield where life was normal. There is no media attention to the issue there equal to the USA where I think we may be 2-3 weeks more in the weeds. But, there’s no accurate info for any of us since there is inadequate testing in both the US and Mexico, and likely so many places around the world. Yes, we are physically isolated. This is really hard. All our routines are disrupted. And we are scared.
      But we still have a wide circle of friends es, even though we are displaced, and for this I’m grateful. Thank you, my friend

  4. Thank you, Norma.

  5. Thank you Norma for this sobering exposure of my beloved, but misguided Mexico. I know the Mexican people I am in touch with are not in agreement with the President’s callus and ignorant disregard for the science and the facts. Unfortunately, it will take the crisis of critical mass to prove him wrong and then it will be too late.

    • Thanks for reading, Bev. These are hard times for all of us, and most especially for our beloved Mexico. Let’s hope he gets some sense soon. But, we aren’t doing much better at the federal level in the USA. Wishing you sustained good health.

  6. Thanks Norma for this. Our dear friends in Oaxaca have been on my mind. I did not know that Elsa’s father had died, I will send her a message. And if I can purchase anything from her or from Fe y Lola I would like to do that .

    • That’s very generous, Claudia, but of course, that is who you are! I will send you Elsa’s email address and I’ll also send you Omar’s address. He can handle sending you rug photos so you can choose what you like. BIG THANK YOU’S AND HUGS.

  7. Thank you for this update. I am sending condolences to Elsa. Elsa, if you read this please know that I will study with you again at the soonest possible time!I am hoping that Oaxaca is able to avoid a severe outbreak. So glad you are able to stay home!

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