Swine flu went from something I had heard a whisper of last week to something pretty serious withing the space of a week. I've read a lot about this flu on the internet. Around 100 people have died in Mexico City, and now there have been cases in the US, Spain, Scotland and perhaps Manchester. Obviously I am very saddened by deaths of people in Mexico City, but having lived through the mad cow era in the UK and anthrax scares following September 11, I tend to take a pretty philosophical about these things. If its not something you have control over then don't worry about it. I'm afraid I've developed a bit of a tendency to hide my head in the sand during world crises.
Two things that have personally impacted me on this occasion:
Two of my very dear friends who lived in Playa Del Carmen have decided to move up their leaving date. They are expecting a baby and for unrelated reasons had made the decision to return to the US. I just got a phone call 10 mins ago telling me that they've decided to leave today, for fear that travel may become increasingly difficult over the next month, as a result of the spread of swine flu. A wise move (and when an unborn baby is involved I think caution is the best way forward) but its meant that I didn't get to say goodbye which has kind of hit me hard today. Its made me feel a little lonely here in Mexico. I still feel very happy in my choice of lifestyle and just in myself at peace and content, but increasingly recently, I've been missing my friends in the US and UK. Other than the friends who are now leaving I suppose I have begun to develop one or two close friendships in Mexico (and of course my boyfriend who is my best friend ever). Teaching by the pool one day last week I overheard one of the guests listening to Led Zeplin - this reminded me of living in England and of all of my friends from Uni and I suddenly became not 'homesick' but 'friendsick'. Then with my only really close friends leaving Mexico this feeling got worse and today - well I'm feeling a little bit alone.
I also spoke to my Mam - my parents are planning a trip to Mexico on May 11th. I am very excited about this, but my mam said today that her friends have been calling her telling her not to come. I kind of poo poo'd this but now it seems that there is a real possibility that travel to Mexico might be seriously impacted. The European Union health commissioner has advised Europeans to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico. I hope this does not affect my parents trip as I really want to see them (although I don't want them to get swine flu).
This brings me back to the feelings I had of remoteness right after September 11th when I was marooned in Brooklyn on my own.
There is also the issue of the impact all of this will have on tourism to Mexico and the impact that that will have on my and other's in this region ability to earn money. Coupled with the US economic situation and media coverage of drug wars here in Mexico I worry about falling tourism.
Ak I'm being a big baby I know and I am incredibly lucky with the life I have here. As usual I'm just going to trust that this will blow over. I'm about to deliver a bottle of fresh orange juice to my boyfriend who is sick (excuse for a big hug) and then head to pilates and yoga to put my mind into a peaceful state.
Going to miss my friends though!!!