On the Ground in Oaxaca: Maria Crespo COVID-19 Report

Maria Crespo owns El Diablo y La Sandia B&B. I’ve known her for years. Maria is at the epicenter of Oaxaca tourism, which accounts for 30% of the commerce sector of the economy. Always top-rated on Trip Advisor, EDLS has gone from 100% full to empty. She lives in Oaxaca with her partner Sten Maldonado, marketing director for Los Danzantes mezcal brands and their two-year-old son.

I asked her these questions:

How you and your family are doing?

Are you going out at all?

What is your experience overall?

What are you observing?

What are people telling you about corona virus?

What is worrying you most?

This is Maria’s answer:

Hi Norma

We are going through a really hard period economically.  Fortunately, there’s not many ill people, but we are staying in. I had 100% cancellations, and I sent my staff on paid vacation. Then, they will come a few days in April to get ready for the return of the guests, with a lower salary than normal but paid for all of their days, even if they don’t come.   

I feel like if we all cooperate and stay home for a few days we might be able to overcome this crisis in a shorter period of time and without so many ill people, as other countries.  So far, there are only a few cases in Oaxaca and it’s been like that for a few days, so hopefully it will stay that way.    The police are going around making sure there are no people wandering around in the streets.

The thing that worries me the most, and for most of the people I know here in Oaxaca, is the impact on the economy. My legs are shaking in expectance of the cost of this crisis.  For me as a business owner, the cost to keep this business alive will be outstanding. Thank god I have some savings I can use.  But we are not as lucky with the recently opened Sur a Norte that has no savings… we don’t know how to make it work…   and I worry about all of my staff who will have to make the most out of their lower salary. So overall, I am not sleeping well with anxiety and fear about the economic impact of this world crisis.

Mom and Dad are in their house in Guadalajara in complete isolation.  Their economy will also be greatly impacted because their income depends on rent from my grandmother’s house in Mexico City, which is now a restaurant. But the restaurant is going to have to close down.  So no income for my parents from now and until who knows when. Also the maintenance of the property is of around 100 thousand pesos a month. With no income, that means a very large expense.

The fear about the virus itself is not as bad down here, but, in my point of view people aren’t taking it as seriously as they should because they’re still out and about….  I think that could be our weakness, to not stay together and cooperate.

I am very happy to give you my input for your blog.


Back to Norma:

First, big thanks to Maria for sharing her very personal experience.

I am reminded about the 2006 political crisis in Oaxaca, when everything shut down, tourism came to a screeching halt, and there was economic suffering that lasted for many years. Recovery didn’t fully happen until 2010. Since this is a worldwide pandemic, this story is magnified in every nook and cranny of our world. Maria’s personal experience brings her fear and concern closer to home.

Mexico News Daily reports the Pan American Health Organization fears there will be 700,00 potentially lethal COVID-19 cases in Mexico.

What is Mexico’s president doing? Don’t stop going out, says AMLO. He’s sounding more and more like the Trumpster.

12 responses to “On the Ground in Oaxaca: Maria Crespo COVID-19 Report

  1. Thank you for sharing Norma. Oaxaca is a very special place for me, and I hope it escapes the worse of the pandemic. Economically we are feeling it as well in our little baja fiahing village. The fish buyers are not buying, since tourism has come to a halt.

  2. I promise to write a long post soon. For now, I was touched by a mutual friend who just transferred a generous amount of money to me via PayPyal for me to spread around Oaxaca. I’m trying to figure out how to do that. First, will be generous “tips” to the house cleaner in our complex, the water delivery guys, the man who picks up our trash a few times a week. Anywhere I go (not many places at all these days) I triple tip. For now I’m cooking but I may get take out and freeze it from local restaurants to give them income and again, triple tip. Any other suggestions appreciated! Abrazos!!

    • Hi Jacki what generous and heartfelt news. I made a large gift this morning through a foundation to help restaurant workers in North Carolina’s triangle who have lost jobs.
      It’s all a drop in the bucket, of course, compared to what the governments of all countries can do to help their people.

      Tips for staying healthy: I am spraying EVERYTHING that enters the apartment with alcohol. That includes mail, all boxes and containers of food, pharmaceuticals, etc. We must be vigilant wherever we are.

      Take good care. Wash up after handling money!

  3. thank you for doing this norma and to Maria for sharing. i am so worried about my dear oaxaca and the wonderful people, restaurants, hotels, service workers, markets…… not sure what to do but i need to know what’s going on. love to you.

    • Hi, Ellen. Lots of voices also on Clandestine Oaxaca Appreciation Society. We have much to be concerned about, there and here. I may go back to Oaxaca before North Carolina as soon as I know it’s safe to travel. Our people there need us in hotels, restaurants and villages. Meanwhile, all we can do is urge everyone to self isolate

  4. What are your thoughts on traveling to Mexico? We have plans to go to Oaxaca for Day if the Dead this year and have everything booked …,,, maybe to soon to tell!!?? Lynda Nelson

  5. I’m going to try to make plans to visit Oaxaca in the summer ( not when I normally would go) to try to help make up for lost income now. Very small, I know, but every little bit can help.

  6. Thank you so much for this report. I have stayed in El Diablo y La Sandia which I loved. My Heart goes out to María and her family. Such difficult times for all.
    Safety and health to all

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