Warning: This post is not going to be about an all-inclusive resort, a weekend adventure, or the beach. This is going to be an honest, maybe boring, detailed post about how Cancun and Bebé and I are dealing with these unforeseen events.
Just like everywhere else, here in paradise we are dealing with the @#%$!% COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic. A pandemic is not something I ever expected to blog about, and I didn’t have a blog when hurricane Wilma hit, or when the much less serious H1N1 / Swine flu pandemic happened.
But, here we are so…
I started working from home on Tuesday, March 17, 4 weeks and 3 days ago. One day I had a friend visiting from the U.S. and we were at the beach, and the next we were under quarantine.
I have been wishing I could work from home for awhile now, but not when Bebé is home because there is no school, and not when I can’t leave the house. However, I feel very lucky that my full time job immediately took this whole thing seriously enough to have us work from home, not only because I want to stay healthy, but because that same day, we found out that the following Monday school would be closed for a month (that has since been extended to June 1). What would I do with Bebé if the school was closed and I had to go into work?
At that time, most people and businesses in Cancun were not taking the threat of Coronavirus very seriously, which is disappointing because Cancun could have really kept their cases down if they had. Adding to the problem is the fact that many people earn their living day to day. For example, you sell tacos. If you don’t sell tacos one day, you don’t make any money that day. Also, many people in Cancun depend on public transportation, where social distancing isn’t possible. In the second half of March they started closing casinos and movie theaters, etc. However, resorts and hotels were still open and huge gatherings like the “Tianguis”, an open air market, were allowed to continue until last week. Beaches were closed a week or two ago and are being patrolled.
So Cancun, the most popular tourism destination in Latin America, and the surrounding area, is basically closed for business. Three of the four airport terminals are closed. All of the places you love, the resorts, the beaches, the nightclubs, the restaurants… are closed. They estimate some 1,000,000 people are unemployed, and there is no unemployment program in Mexico.
Also, the authorities are now cracking down on residents. This week the governor has prohibited any get-togethers (without saying how many people constitute a get-together), and stated that people must wear masks when they go out and that only one person is allowed to be in the car when going out for groceries or to the pharmacy, which are the only two approved outings. Some of these restrictions seem a little vague or random. We have gone to pick up a pizza every Friday evening, but Bebé stays in the car while I run in and get it so… does it really matter that he’s in the car?
How many cases are there in Cancun? How many people have tested positive? There is a website with the “official” numbers, but just like many other places, there aren’t enough tests so we don’t know the real numbers. There was recently an article written about how Coronavirus cases are being listed in hospitals as “unexplained pneumonia” because well, if they haven’t been tested, they can’t list them as Coronavirus. There are also rumblings of healthcare workers not having enough masks, etc. Mexico’s healthcare system was already nowhere near where it needed to be before this happened.
Grocery shopping hasn’t been nearly as bad as in the US. There is plenty of toilet paper available. There have been some empty shelves, mostly rice, beans, tortillas, etc., but overall I have been able to find almost everything on my list every week. Last Saturday Walmart got a lot more serious about social distancing by moving merchandise farther back from the cashiers and putting X’s on the floor. As of this week, you must wear a mask to enter. All of the dear elderly people who bagged groceries for tips were sent home weeks ago.
I had four jobs before this happened. As of today, I have lost all three of my freelance jobs (I am hoping to get them back when this is all over) and I am working my full time job for 50% of my salary. I am grateful for this, because it means money coming in. My mortgage is going to be deferred for four months, I don’t have to pay for soccer and I am not paying for school (they expect us to, so that will have to be sorted out later, I need money for food), and those are my largest expenses. I haven’t gotten gas since the middle of March and I only had a half a tank when we started quarantining.
Keeping a schedule keeps us sane under normal circumstances, but it is even more important now. When I started working from home, I was working on my freelance from 7 am to 9 am, then working from 9 am to 6 pm, but since I don’t have anymore freelance work, the computer is coming out closer to 8 am. Bebé is playing way too much Xbox and watching way too much youtube (I am working full time after all), but he takes scheduled breaks to do schoolwork, music, and soccer. I am not homeschooling, they haven’t given us enough materials to do that (thank goodness), so the schoolwork basically consists of exercises reviewing various subjects. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner at basically the same time every day. Every evening I take a 40-minute walk while listening to music, which really helps me maintain my sanity. I am exercising the same amount and I am not drinking any more wine than I did before this whole thing started (Friday and Saturday evenings). I have gained a pound, but I am going to lose that quickly, because the last thing I want to do is come out of this having gained weight!
We also colored eggs and I managed to pull off Easter.
It’s getting HOT in Cancun, and I am afraid to use the air-conditioning and then not have the money to pay a large bill, so I got out the floor fans and we basically spend 24 hours a day in front of them.
My general philosophy in life is that happiness is a choice and that you have to do the best you can with whatever comes your way, and I am applying it to this situation. That’s not to say I don’t have moments where I panic or feel depressed. Family, friends and a sense of humor (OMG that My Sharona Coronavirus remake) help so very much.
The couple of months before this happened were very busy and a lot of fun. My mom was here for a month, then I had friends visit and some weekend adventures. We had a blast, and it filled my soul, but I must admit I was looking forward to a little downtime.
This was not what I had in mind.
Stay healthy and sane out there. We’ll be here, at home, sweating.