and $260 USD RT airfares to Mexico City on Continental Airlines! Now that’s a bargain. Stephen and I booked flights to Mexico City leaving on July 15. We’re going to land, take a bus to Puebla (40 minutes from Mexico City) to oggle Rococco buildings with facades covered in talavera tile, then after two days of sightseeing, head on down to Oaxaca, a four-hour bus ride from Puebla, to arrive in time for Guelaguetza. With airport and immigration taxes, the total airfare per person was $371.
This is rock-bottom pricing, lower than any “best fare” I’ve seen over the last four years. So, I went ahead and bought my Day of the Dead ticket to return at the end of October for a week. I’m still hoping that people will come to their senses and realize that this is not an epidemic. I hope we will have participants sign up for the Day of the Dead tour I am offering in Teotitlan del Valle and Oaxaca from October 29 to November 4. And, in anticipation of this, bought my round-trip ticket from Raleigh-Durham to Oaxaca (via Houston) for another great rock-bottom fare of $480 RT plus taxes.
I went online to www.hotels.com and found a 50% off room at the 4-star Camino Real Hotel Puebla, located in a 16th restored convent. Cost is $68 per night when booked and paid in advance — an unbelievable price. Una buena discuenta.
Last week, the New York Times reported two deaths from the H1N1 flu virus. It is evaporated from the front page. Yet, the hysteria does not seem to be subsiding. My friend Sheri Brautigam says there are no tourists on the 16th century cobblestone streets of Oaxaca.
I am defying the fear-factor and intend to take advantage of these great prices to get back to Mexico. What about you?
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