Keep your distance!

Those that took advantage of the long weekend and government shut-down in Mexico were not always greeted warmly in other parts of the country. Apparently after the Mayor of Acapulco told Mexican City residents to ‘go home’ a few cars with Mexico City license plates were stoned as they arrived in the popular beach resorts, some petrol station attendants refused to serve chilangos and there was a marked hostility towards the more obvious ‘tourists’ on to the beaches. At the other extreme, hotels in CancĂșn, (Acapulco’s main rival) are begging for visitors, and offering all kinds of ‘two for one deals’ in a bid to lure back tourists of any description.

As cases of H1N1 escalate in the UK, the Mexican Health Minister, Jose Angel Cordova, has suggested that the flu peaked here between 23 and 28 April. Although he insists that Mexicans should not ‘let down their guard’, it is evidently already happening. We are back in DF this evening and most Mexicans are preparing to return to work on Wednesday. The restaurants, cafes and high schools, will also welcome back business on Wednesday, but it is still not certain if the rest of Mexico’s educational establishments will open this week. Nor has it been announced when the gyms and sports centres, cinemas and theatres will be allowed to throw open their doors.

Already, however, there are more people on the streets than when we left last week and many are happy to ‘let down their mask’ in order to stop and chat with neighbours or share a cigarette with friends. The supermarket packers are back in force in my local, which is good to see as I am sure that they won’t have been paid during the ban – BUT not one of them was wearing a mask tonight.

The Health Ministry has circulated comprehensive guidelines to major businesses in Mexico. The detail in the  documents - some over 20 pages long - is impressive, although I cannot help but think that the following diagram,

illustrating how far apart the tables should be spaced when restaurants reopen, may be oversting the point. Surely,  it is sufficient to say that "no more than four diners can be within a 100 sq. foot space".

Britain, take note!

And judging by this one, the newly-recommended partitioning of film-goers is going to sound a death knell for those romantically inclined to use the cinema as a potential date!

Sadly, I cannot imagine that there will be many public celebrations of Cinco de Mayo. The 5th May national holiday commemorates the victory of the Mexicans over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

As if in remembrance of that long-ago war, it is thundering and lightning, the lights have dimmed, the electrical supply is intermittent, and the sheer force of the storm raging outside makes me feel as though the apocalypse has finally descended.

But one can only ever hope for the best; it’s a brand new day tomorrow,  and I am reminded of the following verse from  Arthur Hugh Clough’s heartening poem:

And not by eastern windows only,

When daylight comes, comes in the light;

In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!

But westward, look, the land is bright!