Monday, April 27, 2009

Hey Faithful Readers...

I'm still fine. The situation, however, has become more serious as the days wear on.

The following are a few questions/answers from the Naperville Daily Herald, they might use some of the info for tomorrow's paper...

3. What is the mood like down there right now?
That depends on who you ask. As I mentioned in my interview with WBBM yesterday morning, on Saturday afternoon I went to a birthday lunch for a friend. People were generally taking it lightly, not wearing masks or anything, and making plays on words (the word for flu, influenza, is similar to the word for influence, influencia, so people are saying things like, wow, that influence is really strong, things of that nature). However, later in the evening, I found myself chatting with a work colleague of my friend, and he was more somber and cautious in his perspective on the flu. Some of the people who were supposed to come to the party earlier, who live in Mexico City, did not come for fear of leaving their homes and traveling. A few that I talked to were 'barricading' themselves in their home, planning to cook for themselves and not go out all weekend. I attended a wake later that night, and approximately 50% of the people were wearing masks.
I live in a small town, so my perspective is different from that of my friends who live in larger cities. Both my Mexican friends and my fellow Fulbright and other international friends, again, have mixed feelings. I have been reading both the international and Mexican newspapers online, and yesterday (Sunday), it was all over the news, so I found myself sufficiently nervous. However, when I went grocery shopping later in the evening with my neighbor, I found people out and about as normal; who knows whether they were (like me) planning to be eating at home for a while, and planning ahead, or merely going about with their normal activities. Some people were wearing masks, particularly the employees at the stores.
My friends in Mexico City and Toluca that I've been in touch with are all feeling strangely-the streets are abandoned, nearly everything is closed, and it seems that everyone has their own opinion on what is happening. Some think the government is overreacting; others think they are not telling us the full story as to not incite panic in the population. Nobody really knows how long this is going to last, or how serious it is going to become.
My advisor here at the University tells me that she is worried mainly because even in the face of other health scares, the government has never stepped in like this to close schools, museums, movie theaters, masses, soccer games... so I would say the general perspective is one of uncertainty, concern about where we will go from here.
My friend and fellow Fulbrighter Caley McIntyrelives in Mexico City, and has told me that it would be ok if I passed on his blog, in case you're interested in a perspective from closer to the epicenter:
4. Do you find yourself forced to spend your time indoors? Are you able to go to work?
Both the advice from the Mexican officials as well as my official Fulbright contacts are highly recommending staying inside our homes, and even beyond that, preparing our own food and eating at home, to avoid the risk of eating food contaminated by people with the flu.
Since I am working at a University, no, I am unable to go to work because schools here are closed until after Cinco de Mayo, so returning May 6th (tentatively). So, yes, I have been spending a lot of time indoors, doing a little bit of work from home, being in contact with friends and family, and keeping an eye on the news. Also, the amount of public transportation has also been reduced, so it would also be a challenge to even get to work (I, like many people in Mexico, rely on public transportation for my needs), even if I could go.
5. How do you get groceries or other items that you need?
I have several friends with cars in the area, all of whom have been very supportive. My neighbor, in particular, has told me that I can call him anytime with a request or whatever it might be and he will help me out. I feel very confident that I will be alright in terms of physical needs; if I were to need anything or feel sick in any way, he would be who I call.
6. I have seen photos of people wearing surgical masks. Are you doing the same thing?
I would say between 40-60% of the people I come across in a day are wearing them; I have not gotten one yet, but I have heard that they are sold out and therefore nowhere to be found.
7. What things are you doing to protect yourself?
Generally, taking normal flu precautions; washing my hands at regular intervals, staying at home, avoiding large gatherings, being aware of sick people around me, preparing my own food...
8. Are you planning to leave Mexico and come home?
I had considered it, especially after a conversation yesterday afternoon with my parents, who are obviously concerned for my safety. However, after being out and about, and hearing from the Fulbright organization here in Mexico, I feel confident that following these precautions and staying here, near friends that I trust to take care of me in case of any problems, is going to be the best option. I have faith in the global medical organizations to a. find a vaccine and b. be able to disseminate it to the people who need it. I hope people are paying attention to these precautions being promoted by both the Mexican and international bodies, and the epidemic/pandemic can be brought under control as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your concern for my safety, and thanks for your prayers! I know my family appreciates it, too!



Anonymous said...

Just stopped to say hello and wish you - and us - good luck!

God protect us.

Kiss you, my dear.


Anonymous said...

Mari, heard you on the WGN Radio today. Every half hour they had a different section of your interview regarding the epidemic for their newscasts. So it appears you are quite the star!!! (given the fact that nearly every news affiliation has used you as a source!) I'll be thinking of and praying for you. Be safe.

: O ) Val Kaffka

Anonymous said...

fyi word from the "inner circle" (not so inner truly) is that there currently is no vaccine for the swine flu and vaccines take a very long time to create. in order to take the time to create a vaccine it would impede our ability to treat the currently infected and put us back as it were.... so at this point, in the states anyway, flu treatment stock holds are being released to every state in case and there are no plans to create a vaccine at this point. then again that could take a turn any day!

i love you.

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Cheers, Keep it up.

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