On Friday, December 30, I drive away to Albuquerque from Taos and on Saturday, December 31 (my birthday!), I fly away to Oaxaca. Yes, a lot has changed since March 12, 2020, when I flew from Oaxaca to California to visit my son for a week and ended up staying with him for two months. Then, the Covid Pandemic was an unknown, we were scared of everything, only to learn that so many people became infected and died. It’s almost three years later and I have not contracted Covid … yet.
I’m still very cautious, wear a face mask the moment I step into an airport and keep it on until I reach my destination … either Oaxaca or New Mexico! I don’t take it off until I am outside. Such is not the case for most now. On my recent travels returning from Oaxaca to Taos in November, maybe 15% on the plane were masked. I am writing this because our study tour season is about to start. Our first group starts on January 3, and we have three more after that, going to the Oaxaca Coast, to Mexico City and Michoacan, and then wrapping up with Chiapas.
We have alerted all travelers to take precautions and we continue to send out reminders. We want all travelers to be respectful of each others’ health, to protect self and others, and especially to protect the indigenous people of Mexico whom we will visit, who do not have the benefit of quality vaccines, and who are more prone to disease because of underlying chronic health conditions (like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illness).
Why? Because Covid has not gone away and now it is on the rise again as winter digs in.
Here is our Covid Travel Advice:
- Take a Covid home test the day before you are set to travel to be certain you are negative
- Mask up before you enter the airport
- We require N95 or KN95 face masks
- Keep your mask on throughout your travel day in the airport and on the airplane
- Yes, we know that mask-wearing is uncomfortable, because it is for me, too! This is no excuse!
- Test again 2-3 days after arrival
- Wear masks whenever indoors and in crowded places like markets
- Understand the importance of traveling respectfully in Mexico where mask-wearing is still a norm among local people
- Know that all our travelers are required to have vaccines and the latest boosters, no exceptions, to ensure each others’ safety
What motivated me to write this? Christmas!
We just finished a modified Christmas Feast celebration with fourteen people, family and and dearest friends who are akin to family. The organizers traveled from Philadelphia and New Jersey to participate. The men have been doing this since 1982. They choose a different cookbook each year, parse out the recipes, and everyone participating makes something very elaborate from scratch. My daughter-in-law and I made the agnolotti, a version of ravioli stuffed with seasoned butternut squash and topped with shallot butter infused with truffle oil. It took us all day. Since we didn’t have anything but a French rolling pin, which we were told wouldn’t work, we adapted and used an empty Gracias Adios Tepeztate Mezcal bottle. Hummph.
Ok, so we’ll get to the crux of the story … the Chief Feast Leader tested positive for Covid on Christmas morning. That shifted everything, of course. We moved the Feast to my west patio facing the Rio Grande Gorge so we could be outside and protect ourselves. I required that anyone coming into the house had to wear a face mask. The Chief Feast Leader was isolated at a separate table and wore a mask the entire time. We managed, but we were cold despite building a fire pit and having a propane heater. As the sun set, the temps dropped to below thirty degrees. This was a short dinner, despite the elaborate menu and French wines. I could run through the menu, but that’s not the point.
And, why did the Chief Feast Leader get Covid? He traveled from the East Coast without wearing a mask — including nine hours in the Dallas airport because of flight delays as the country was experiencing the start of the Bomb Cyclone blizzard. And, even though we had reminded everyone to please take all necessary health precautions, he chose to ignore this. The couple staying with him and his partner in the shared Air BnB tested positive on December 26.
I tested negative yesterday. I’ll test again tomorrow. Fingers crossed I will escape this once more. Meanwhile, I urge all of you getting ready to travel to Oaxaca or wherever your journey takes you, to take care, be respectful of others, and to know that we are all still vulnerable. Your choices affect the health of those you come in contact with.
Blessings for 2023.