living through the coronavirus in mexico

living through the coronavirus in mexico

I’m not really sure when it got here. The coronavirus, that is. I went camping in mid-February when everything about day-to-day life was still normal. I can’t even say I’d heard about the virus at that point, and if I had, it didn’t mean much in the way of making an impression. A few weeks later though, it made more than an impression.

Living here in Mexico, in Riviera Maya and living through our restricted mobility is becoming a bit tiresome. I don’t really mind being confined to home mostly because I consider myself lucky in that I live alone (there’s no one to annoy me aside from myself), and I have an outfitted place to live (a small rooftop pool, garden, private park). For this reason I’m allowed to enjoy these small comforts without breaking any healthy distancing rules.

But the two most difficult restrictions are not being allowed on the beach, especially since it’s been nearly 40 degrees all month, and now not being allowed to leave our municipality — at least, not without a fair bit of scrutiny and on-the-spot explanations of why I’m in my car (cuz I want to go somewhere), if I’m an essential service (not so much, no), where I’m going (next time, wherever there isn’t a filter!), if I’ve traveled recently (to which they will eventually ask again since I’m non-Mexican and secretly assumed guilty of leaving the country for an infected one in the past few weeks) — all while a sweaty, latex gloved hand continues to point a contraption at my forehead to see if I’m hot.

Yeah, I’m hot. It’s been 40 degrees for most of the month. Your stupid filter has caused me to sit in my car for-EVER. Come on! Even the fricken iguanas are hot! But I’m not permitted to say that. I’m not permitted to say much of anything outside of yes or no while tolerating a lecture from municipal officials about how much nicer my day (and theirs) would have been if I’d just stayed at home.

At this point, I have to agree.

The truth is I’m cranky. I don’t normally go camping more than once every few months, but now that it’s off limits, I want to go. Same with the beach. I live within walking distance but don’t often go (hence the beach camping) because daily life gets in the way, yet I have a beach itch I need scratched NOW.

Can we all say reactance?

I drove past a beach entry the other day. I don’t know what I was expecting to find (that the yellow “off limits” tape had been removed?) or what I was even looking for. Maybe for a glimpse of our closed beach…which I got. A glimpse, that is. I also got a glimpse of a young lad leaning against a beach wall in his white security guard attire.

I assume he was put into place for the can’t-stay-at-home-anymore people like me who are getting so desperate they’ve started beach drive-bys. I wonder if this will turn habit-forming? Since we have more than a month left of our stay-at-home lockdown, I thought it wise to be ready to self-diagnose, bookmarking a few online pages from Psychology Today. You know, just in case.

Nothing about this lockdown, about this stay-at-home “recommendation” (I love that they call it a recommendation even though we’ve been warned noncompliance will lead to an arrest) feels normal. Driving on municipal streets feels awkward due to the lack of asshole drivers. Our streets are bare and there’s just simply no one to honk at or insult.

Our stores have set head-count limits so when it’s your turn to enter, you have to be outfitted with a mouth mask and put your hands out for a drop of gel goo before being allowed in. While you’re rubbing this mystery goo into your skin, the masked security guard is busy wiping down your cart handle with more sanitary goo.

Once inside, idle chitchat between shoppers has been replaced by a set of probing eyes that quickly review your status before pulling on a freezer door handle that you’ve just touched.

Gawd forbid someone should cough…

Government food pantries continue to be delivered to those in need. This is also the same group suffering the most power cuts (in case you’re unaware, you cannot carry an outstanding bill forward in Mexico). Petty crime has increased. I read today that a local mom-and-pop shop was robbed of 200 peso. Not even the alcohol was taken, just the cash.

It will be interesting to see how long this lockdown, or others like it that may be imposed afterward, continues. Will we, here in Mexico, in Riviera Maya, be forced to do it again because of others who won’t?

While here we quietly do the right thing, conforming to self-isolation (although the threats of arrest does help one make the “correct” decision), many of our neighbors to the north are holding public protests in large groups by unmasked people (some of whom arrive sporting camouflage clothing and guns) who, once borders are open and restrictions lifted, will eventually make their way here to enjoy our beaches — the same beaches we as locals have been banned from during a month of 40 degree temperatures — likely as an asymptomatic traveler or worse, an unmasked mild-symptom traveler who claims to not feel contagious — only to repeat the cycle.