The eerie solitude of Puerto Vallarta, and the rest of Mexico, is a chilling reflection of a world under siege by a pandemic. Just a few months after the birth of the coronavirus Covid-19, this country has learned the language of epidemic fear and has taken actions to mitigate its lethal effects.
In a typical year, semana santa, the holy week between Palm Sunday and Easter, would be an occasion for families to head to the beach, the mountains or other pastoral pleasures to enjoy time together. But not this year. The president of Mexico, governors of the states and local mayors, following in the footsteps of countries now decimated by the virus, have implemented requirements to remain at home, practice social distancing and wear face masks when shopping for food or other essentials. Of course, hand washing and wipes are also part of the necessary anti-virus regime.
In Puerto Vallarta, things are very quiet. Cruise ships are missing, traffic is a trickle, the beaches are closed and for the most part, people adhere to the measures put in place to save lives. I do my daily three mile walk along Avenida Fluvial each morning around 6. Today, I passed two people during my 50-minute walk. We all observed the required personal space recommendation of six feet when passing and some wore masks, for fear of airborne contamination.
To get ahead of the curve, the first Center for Respiratory Diseases opened in Puerto Vallarta yesterday, a remarkable feat since construction started just two weeks ago. The new facility – built adjacent to Hospital San Javier in the Hotel Zone North – has space for 18 patients and has advanced technology, including mechanical ventilators for intensive care. Some states in Mexico are also clamping down on alcohol use that could lead to an increase in domestic violence as millions of people shelter in place. Puerto Vallarta does not have that restriction, I’m happy to say. I would miss my daily ration of wine during this lockdown.
With everyone hunkered down until the storm passes, the Internet seems a bit slower than usual as everyone turns to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other purveyors of escapist entertainment that help establish a degree of equilibrium with the non-stop, 24/7 news coverage of the virus. I finally found a great streaming service a week ago that makes life in confinement a lot better. It’s called REALTV Club and it offers a ton of U.S. and world channels in English for us non-polyglots for about US$35 a month. Far superior to the available satellite and cable services for expats.
By the way, if you are looking for a good source for face masks, Mercado Libre is the place to go. Inexpensive and delivered to your home.
These are difficult times for everyone, especially those who have lost loved ones to the virus, survived Covid-19 or have lost their jobs or put on hiatus for the lockdown duration and have no government-supported income. We can only hope that, with everyone doing their part, we can weather this global pandemic storm and return to our lives again. But, will this happen again? Almost certainly so, say medical experts. I hope the world will be better prepared next time when a new virulent virus comes calling again.