COVID-19 Report from Puerto Peñasco: Gretchen Ellinger

Puerto Peñasco is a Mexican beach town on the Sea of Cortez, across the Arizona border on the Baja Peninsula. It is very close to Tucson and Phoenix. Many US citizens from the southwest have vacation homes here and some, like Gretchen Ellinger, are permanent residents.

Washington Post: In Mexico, beach towns block access during COVID-19

I’ve known Gretchen for several years and she stays in touch regularly. She has traveled with us to Chiapas, the Oaxaca coast, and Mexico City. Many of you tell me you appreciate hearing what is going on in other parts of Mexico, so I asked Gretchen if I could share with you what she wrote to me on April 8, 2020.

Gretchen in 2019, Pinotepa de Don Luis, Dreamweavers Cooperative

This is Gretchen Ellinger’s first-person account of what life is like in her town of 62,000+ people.


While it was disappointing to watch my business disappear practically  overnight, I am blessed in a number of ways, starting with where I live. While there is a small number of cases of CV-19 in Sonora, there have miraculously been none in Puerto Peñasco.  Our town is closed — no-one in or out — and has been since Friday, April 3. We have a 24-hour curfew, except for shopping for food, medication, to/from medical care, and people are required to wear washable nose/mouth covers (masks or bandanas) away from home.  The thinking is that we may be able to circulate within the town limits on April 17 on a more normal basis, IF no one develops viral symptoms between now and then.  Vamos a ver…

In the meantime, I live in a small gated community, so I have a place (very small, but better than nothing!) to walk a bit, and great, helpful neighbors, and my little doggie keeps me on schedule — we sleep, awaken, eat twice a day and walk 4X daily on Luna’s  schedule, which one could use to set the clocks!  I have my  quilting, as well, and have been diverted for a few days making washable cloth masks for neighbors and to donate to the emergency medical clinic to be given as needed.  I have a pom pom plan as well, so cannot wait to receive my pom poms.  For all my blessings, I would be lost w/o phone and internet connections with friends — I am a social girl, and at times my dog just is not enough company.  

I think it is time to count our blessings — you are right, Norma, we are not in concentration camps, or in internment camps as were the Japanese Americans during WWII — it could be MUCH worse.  Plus, last night I had a thought:  This is the one and only time in my  memory that everyone in the developed world has had a common goal, and that air pollution has diminished substantially and even the hole in the ozone layer has decreased in size —  I wonder if those and similar by-products of this pandemic will help to re-set man’s priorities…  One can hope!  

Abrazos fuertes,



What I love about Gretchen’s message is her hopefulness. By nature an optimistic and cheerful person, she sees the onslaught of this virus as a way to re-calibrate our world and Save Our Planet. While I am wallowing in the grief of being cooped up, Gretchen is looking at the clear skies and reduced pollution. Here in Los Angeles, we can now see forever! Ojala. Thank you, Gretchen for reframing this scourge into something positive.

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