Most of you know that I am employed full-time at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, and when I returned to NC in mid-February after our successful documentary filmmaking workshop, I had been in Mexico five out of the previous 10 weeks. Okay, so three of those weeks were over the winter holiday break when not much happens. But there WAS a lot of catching up to do. I was serving on the search committee to name a new dean of the school, and now this is behind us. After orchestrating a major scholarship fundraising and celebratory party last week with 250 people in honor of our current dean who is stepping out of office, I am now able to catch my breath.
Mexico is on my mind, especially this week when the news broke yesterday of the Swine Flu possible epidemic centered in Mexico City that has the threat of spreading worldwide. Don’t panic, the NY Times reports. 81 people dead and 1300 sick to date. My friend Sheri Brautigam, who just left Teotitlan and was intending to spend some time in M.C. reports on her Facebook page that she’s heading out of town. Millions of gauze face masks have been distributed to M.C. citizens and a high school in NYC has had flu outbreaks. It is not known whether anti-viral medication developed for other strains will work on this new one that has mutated from pigs to people.
Ah, sweet Mexico. My heart cries for you. Will this have an impact on tourism? You bet! The Mexico City airport police are patrolling to keep people who look sick off of airplanes and out of buildings. This is the connection city to my beloved Oaxaca for many airlines as well as other important tourist destinations around the country. I was thinking of flying to Mexico City soon and then taking a bus to Puebla and then Oaxaca. I can’t imagine spending hours on public buses with this public health risk looming. The optimum plan would be to fly on Continental Airlines through the Houston gateway directly to Oaxaca.
The drug wars have been receded and the health wars are front and center stage. Mexico is definitely occupying front page news territory for weeks on end. I was not concerned or afraid of the media hype around the drug environment that is pretty much centered on the border states. But I am concerned about Swine Flu. I’m waiting to make my plane reservations for the next trip, hoping that this will dissipate quickly and I can get back to Teotitlan and the people I love and care about soon.
I’d love to hear how the expat communities in and around Mexico City — as well as all over Mexico — are reacting to all of this