On the Ground in Oaxaca: First Person–What’s Happening

Yesterday, I put the word out to friends and acquaintances who live or are staying at home in Oaxaca to give me their insights, observations and experiences about life there during the COVID-19 virus outbreak. These are first-person accounts and important to me to stay informed since I’m sequestered with my son in Huntington Beach, California. I thought you’d be interested, too.

Iconic Templo Santo Domingo, Oaxaca, Mexico

From Kay Michaels, owner of Oaxaca Eats walking food tours:

Walked with the dogs this morning down Alcala almost to the Zocalo. Alcala has few people but there was some kind of gathering at Santa Domingo. Turned up Independencia and glanced over to a PACKED zocalo. I saw tents set up. Looked kinda of like when the teacher’s strike. Headed back up Garcia Vigil with less folks.

Decided to hit Chedraui for a few items and that was a mistake even at 10am. When I came in and grabbed my cart, I immediately wiped it down. This was met with laughs from a Oaxqueno family of three, but I don’t care. Better safe than sorry. The shelves are bare of rice but full of toilet paper. Pasta was picked over and sauce almost gone. People have begun panic buying. No anti-bacterial gel or alcohol. There were few people working the check out and no baggers so the lines were long. I, and another guera, were the only ones wearing masks besides the checkers who had masks and gloves on. People were not practicing social distancing and I had to maneuver my cart to try to keep them away.

Boulenc has closed their restaurant and only the bakery is open. They are only allowing a few people in at a time. Destilado has closed. Riviere Gran Cafe right next door has closed. I think the governor will impose new restrictions to restaurants tomorrow. We’ll see. 

Meanwhile, you might have seen the big gathering for Dia de la Samaritana [Good Samaritan Day] out in Teotitlan del Valle. It was large. And, I was sad to see the photos. It was cancelled here in Oaxaca. Some people get it, some don’t, as everywhere in the world.

Los Angeles Times reports on Mexico President Lopez Obrador’s response to the corona virus. It isn’t good. It’s beginning to look a lot like the Trumpet. And, we thought AMLO cared!

If you are in Oaxaca now, please, especially take good care.

Seeking first person accounts of your experiences now in Oaxaca. Send me an email: norma.schafer@icloud.com

21 responses to “On the Ground in Oaxaca: First Person–What’s Happening

  1. Ya’ll must be going to a different Chedraui than I. Rice stacked high (mostly Chedraui brand) at the one on Madero. No packers, the checker asked for a donation to them, which we gave. TP was there, but not in over abundance. Lots of shelf stocking and product moving. Last week, NO tomatoes, this week, $35 pesos the kilo. Avocados 64 pesos.

  2. I am so sad to hear these stories of Oaxaca. It is a mixed bag here in Ajijic also, with some of us staying sequestered and others gathering for parties or hitting the bars. And the first death in the state of Jalisco announced today. Everyone please take this seriously & educate, educate, educate! Wherever you are.

  3. Cathey Lopez Sandler

    Hi,I’m CatheyLopez Sandler in Puerto. Went out to Chedraui yesterday…it was very empty of people…they were stocking and were well stocked . No baggers, clerks in masks and gloves. Locals often scoff at gringo warnings. Our roads were pretty empty but there were many volunteers (100) cleaning the road to la Punta…no distancing.They have repainted the yellow lines on the street as if they are getting ready for Semana Santa…..we who are here for the long haul
    arePRAYING that the hords don’t come but we don’t know. At least we have big long empty beaches we can get to outside town! Stay safe!

    • Cathey, thanks for giving us this view of life in Puerto Escondido. Yes, let’s hope that you don’t have an influx of young people on the beaches during spring break. Keep us posted on how it’s going there. The lack of social distancing and health messages are alarming. Stay healthy. Norma

  4. Does anyone know how they are doing on testing here in Oaxaca? My friend in Mass. has symptoms and they said they can’t test her because there are no test kits. They told her to stay home. Does anyone know if anyone has tested positive here or has the virus or died?
    I would tell vendors to make cotton masks with just 2 pieces of cotton. they can sell those by the ton now.

    • Dearest Carol, I think information is going to be spotty and inaccurate. It will be more difficult for many who don’t speak much of the language to understand what is going on. Is there an English-speaking doctor there you can ask? There needs to be wide spread public health messaging for people to stay safe. We have it here in the USA, but still no testing. So, basically, I think its isolation and whatever means we can employ to sanitize. Will you write something for me to publish?

    • There are currently three positive tests here in Oaxaca. Up to date information can be found on the health authority’s website and social media: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ssogoboax/

  5. Norma, this was a great idea. So many of us want to know what is happening in Oaxaca. Thanks for getting the stories.

  6. Thanks to all Oaxaca lovers and to those who love to live there. I was there Jan.15-March 1, arriving in Toronto in time for our own shutdown. I am very saddened to think of Oaxaca, so dependant on tourism, all shuttered and forlorn. I’m hoping to return in July for an art show I’m helping to put together, but who knows?
    Kate Rayner

  7. thanks norma and jacki. i am so scared for all the small vendors, the women and children and accordion players on Alcala, the booths at Benito Juarez and the tons of street corn and hamburguesa and nieves guys. ……..

    • Lots to be scared about, Ellen. In Mexico, as in the USA, it’s the self-employed and hourly workers who are most vulnerable, at risk, and economically and medically disadvantaged. Mexico may be hit harder because it has fewer resources to test and public information is not as reliable. By my calculus, they are two weeks behind us and their president has his head in the sand, too.

  8. I did Chedraui on Sat at 8 am and even then more people than I thought would be there, but not too crowded. Yes, rice gone, tp to the ceiling. foreigners buy like swiss cheese gone. There were baggers but very young, so not the usual elderly and with masks and gloves. I triple tipped because I sensed they would be gone soon. Waiters in restaurants say they will do take out. They are in tears. More soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *