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.
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.