Tag Archives: Swine Flu

The ones left behind

30 Apr

I may have been able to hop on a plane a few days ago, but the 20 million people I left behind in Mexico City and its surrounds weren’t so lucky.  Many of my friends there are journalists and have been working hard to get out on the streets and cover the story, infectious deadly diseases or not.

My friend Alexis down in the subway.  Photo by Deanna Dent

My friend Alexis down in the subway. Photo by Deanna Dent

Alexis Okeowo, above, is a freelance journalist friend of mine from Alabama who covers everything from Kenyan runners training in Toluca to Mexico City design firms to how the Mexican government is dealing with the encroaching drug addiction problems in society.  She worked for two years in Africa, so I guess after the dealing with the slums of Kenya the swine flu is no big thing for her.

The photo was taken by Deanna Dent, another good friend who has been working day and night to shoot the possible pandemic.  She has a great blog full of photos and sound slides that give you an idea of what it’s like in the streets.  Sounds pretty scary if you ask me.  Empty, quiet streets in Mexico City are not the norm, not at all.

A young girl in the upscale condesa neighborhood rides her bike

A young girl in the upscale condesa neighborhood rides her bike

As I sit comfortably at my computer and breathe in the fresh, spring air of Charlottesville, I can’t help but wonder what it’s like for the friends I left behind.  A good friend of mine from Emory had just moved down to Mexico City for a month or so, and recently decided it just wasn’t worth it and also packed up and left. Several of my exchange student friends who were in the middle of finals have also decided to leave.  The exchange office where I study also gave a green light to any of us who wished to return and said we could complete our finals from our home universities (I will be returning in a week to complete my finals at the school).  I also just heard a rumor the government is thinking about shutting down all non-essential businesses.  At least some people have something to smile about:

A young couple in the Historic Center of the city

A young couple in the Historic Center of the city

All fabulous photos by Deanna Dent (thanks girl!).

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Escaping the Swine Flu

28 Apr

I had written earlier about how much Mexicans love their pork but little did I realize what a big deal swine could become in this country.  Leaving the apocalypse is pretty much how I felt yesterday as I hopped on a taxi to the airport.  Everyone we passed by was wearing masks, and even my driver had one on despite the intense heat.  It does get a bit steamy in those masks, I’ll tell you.  At the airport, masks were required attire, as in the fashion statement of the century.  Military guards were passing out questionnaires asking if you had any symptoms and recommending you not to fly that day if you felt the least bit sick.  Did I mention I had a sore throat that day?  Not exactly making me feel any better…

In the taxi headed to the airport

In the taxi headed to the airport

To top it off, an earthquake hit just as I was arriving at the airport.  I didn’t feel anything, but apparently people were running out of buildings in Mexico City.  Although it was a minor earthquake, people are still reeling from the big quake of ’85 that killed over 10,000 people and left the city in ruins.  I couldn’t have picked a better time to leave.  The mayor was talking about stopping all activities in the city, including public transportation, and classes and all major events have been canceled for the next ten days.  I was going to cover Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week for The News and even that got postponed.  After I heard about that, I had no real reason to stay behind, and found out that due to new airline regulations for Mexico travel it was free to change my flight!

The local alt weekly The Hook, where I previously interned, should be running a story about me so be sure to check it out.  As for now, I am safe and sound in Charlottesville, VA enjoying the amazing spring weather, friendly folks, and ordinary pleasures like drinking chai tea from my favorite mug and taking a real shower with more then a trickle of water.