I’m double masked. First, an N95 then covered with my handmade cloth mask made at the height if the pandemic by friend Sam Robbins. (She makes beautiful masks because she is a quilter.)
Do I feel more secure? With my third Pfizer booster and a flu vaccine, I’m still feeling jittery and a bit anxious. I asked the woman behind me in the security line to step back to maintain distance. No one else seemed to care. Everyone else was jammed up in the line.
It looked like it always did traveling before Covid. Lots of close contact. The only difference was that everyone was wearing face coverings, though a few had masks drooping below nostrils.
At age 75, one can go through security and keep on shoes and light jackets. Easy peasy, I thought. Except that before going through the metal detector, I was asked to remove my belt and Teotitlan woven quechquemitl (short poncho). Upon exit of the detector, because areas lit up on the x-ray, I was asked to remove my shoes and undergo the patdown. Shoes had to go back through the x-ray.
Leave plenty of time! I got to the airport 2 hours before flight departure.
Be patient. Ask for what you need — like asking people to step away.
it’s a full flight from ABQ to Houston. We will see how that goes!
Sasha Baron Cohen makes good use of the NOT Joke. Example: Time to Go to Oaxaca. NOT.
Mexico is NOT faring much better than the USA. And, Oaxaca is on the cusp of turning RED again on the traffic signal scale of measurement. Cases are rising exponentially there, too.
I was thinking about returning to Oaxaca in January. However, my Zapotec family in Teotitlan del Valle recommends I do NOT come back just yet.
Here is the question I asked: IF I were to return and IF I contracted Covid-19 while there, where is the best place to get treatment. I was told the best treatment in Oaxaca is at the Hospital San Lucas, though it is the most expensive private hospital. All costs are out-of-pocket.
The public health office announced on November 4 that in two weeks Oaxaca will be pretty close to having all hospital beds occupied in both public and private hospitals due to the celebrations and thousands of tourists who came for Day of the Dead.
The only other option to Hospital San Lucas, I’m told, is to go to the IMSS public hospital. They keep reporting lack of beds, lack of equipment for intense therapy, and lack of pain medication. It is not looking good. And, last week, Teotitlan del Valle appeared on the official list of contagion again.
I was hopeful before I received this news, but not now. If anyone is planning to return to Oaxaca, please think again. Go to Oaxaca? NOT.
My Oaxaca family is sequestered, staying home, staying safe. This is the same for most of my USA and Canada friends who live there permanently.
Now, why did I even entertain this thought of return? Because I just completed plane travel from Durham, NC to Santa Fe to have a reunion with my sister. Now, I’m in Albuquerque to see my son Jacob who drove here with his partner Shelley from Los Angeles. Then, I’ll be in Taos staying with friends through Thanksgiving. This is as close as I’m going to get to Mexico for a while, I fear.
On the plane, I wore an N95 mask, a face shield, gloves. I was armed with Clorox wipes, alcohol spray and hand-sanitizer. I took a window seat (I read somewhere this was the safest). No one sat in the middle seat. I ate and drank nothing in-flight. All passengers were REQUIRED to mask-up. Flight attendants were diligent about that. I thought that if I could do this safely (and it appears that I have), I could safely attempt plane travel to Oaxaca. YES, likely. But once I get there, then what?
It seems that Day of the Dead was a super-spreader event for Oaxaca. If you are a vacationer, we recommend that you stay home. The health care system in Oaxaca, should you need it, is not equipped to treat you.
As for 2021, I will begin planning for our Day of the Dead Folk Art Study Tour in October and announce it in January. In early 2022, we will return to the Oaxaca Coast and Chiapas for textile study tours. We are keeping fingers crossed that most of us will be vaccinated for disease prevention and life will go on. Yet, we aren’t sick of this, are we? NOT.
I’m on an airplane to Detroit. There may be 6-8 people on board a full flight who are wearing surgical masks. This is a first for me, and despite the strange looks and at the encouragement of two passengers just behind me who were talking about when they were putting their masks on, I did, too. There is an assumption that if you are wearing a mask you are sick. So, the looks were pretty intense as I made my way down the aisle to find my seat mid-cabin. I can’t imagine hospital personnel wearing these things all day. There is that warm, moist, almost suffocating feeling of having your nose and mouth covered, a feeling reminiscent of when I was a child breathing in the menthol warm, moist air generated by the vaporizer when I was sick. The man next to me is going to Detroit to visit his first grandchild, 2 weeks old. He promised his daughter he would wear a mask, shower and wash his hair before touching the newborn. How many times did I wash my hands today?
At dinner last night, Marci asked me when was the last time I was in Mexico before she would give me a hug in greeting. Not since mid-February, I replied. Then, today in the NY Times I read that the virus could have mutated from bird to pig to human as long as a year ago. Perhaps it is of the variety that erupts when the weather turns warm, rather than vice versa, I wonder. We are all preoccupied now and doing anything we can to protect ourselves despite the fact that some health care professionals say the face masks don’t help prevent the illness. Then, why, I might ask, are they handing out masks all over Mexico and the photos of the health care workers in the Mexican hospitals are all wearing them?
Today is Thursday, one day before the start of a long Mexican holiday weeking leading up to Cinco de Mayo – the Battle of Puebla. I am on my way to Columbus, Ohio, to visit my friend Sam (Frances) Robbins. We are going to celebrate our Oaxaca connection by creating our own Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Perhaps I will make Micheladas. For certain, we will dine on her Talavera dishes hand made and carried back from our Puebla adventures. This is the best we can do right now. Neither of us have plans to be in Mexico in the next month.
My glasses are fogging up. The flight attendant is serving drinks and snacks. Do I pass on them or raise my mask to drink? The dilemmas of travel during influenza. I pass as she looks at me hesitantly. What does Joe Biden know?
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma contributes personal essay, How Oaxaca Became Home
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
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Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Tours + Study Abroad are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Our Clients Include
*Penland School of Crafts
*North Carolina State University
*WARP Weave a Real Peace
We offer textile experiences in our studio where we weave and work only in natural dyes.You can see the process during our textile tours, dye workshops or customized weaving experiences. Ask us for more information about these experiences, customized scheduling, and prices.
Oaxaca has the largest and most diverse textile culture in Mexico! Learn about it.
1-Day OaxacaCity Collectors Textile Tour.Exclusive Access! We take you into the homes and workshops of Oaxaca State's prize-winning weavers. They come from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the Mixteca, Mixe, Amuzgos and Triqui areas and represent their weaving families and cooperatives here. For collectors, retailers, buyers, wholesalers, fashionistas.
1-Day Oaxaca Textile Walking Tour When you visit Oaxaca immerse yourself in our textile culture: How is indigenous clothing made, what is the best value, most economical, finest available. Suitable for adults only. Set your own dates.
February 5-13, 2023: Bucket List Tour: Monarch Butterflies + Michoacan. Spiritual, mystical connection to nature. Go deep into weaving, pottery, mask-making and more! We haven't offered this tour since 2019 and we anticipate it will sell out quickly. TWO SPACES OPEN
Stay Healthy. Stay Safe. In Oaxaca, wear your mask. Questions? Want more info or to register? Send an email to Norma Schafer.
Maps: Teotitlan + Tlacolula Market
We require 48-hour advance notice for map orders to be processed. We send a printable map via email PDF after order received. Please be sure to send your email address. Where to see natural dyed rugs in Teotitlan del Valle and layout of the Sunday Tlacolula Market, with favorite eating, shopping, ATMs. Click Here to Buy Map After you click, be sure to check PayPal to ensure your email address isn't hidden from us. We fulfill each map order personally. It is not automatic.
Dye Master Dolores Santiago Arrellanas with son Omar Chavez Santiago, weaver and dyer, Fey y Lola Rugs, Teotitlan del Valle