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Mexico: Scenes From an Outbreak

Almost two weeks after the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, Mexico City was declared in “state of emergency” suspending activities at closed populated spaces, such as schools, workplaces and restaurants, as well as large public events, such as concerts and football matches. In order to control the transmission of the virus, wearing a mask became an obligatory measure, and it painted a unique and devastating landscape of the streets of Mexico. These are some of the stories of the Mexican people.

Raúl Zepeda of the blog Banalidades y Algo de Teoría [es] (Commodities and Some Theory) describes streets of the city after the Friday's first health warnings:

El casco de Santo Tomas tiene un cariz espectral, los estudiantes que deberían estar llenando las escuelas del Instituto Politécnico Nacional se han quedado en casa, los rumores nocturnos de la suspensión de clases dejaron desiertas las escuelas Diego Rivera, Rabindranath Tagore y Frida Kahlo, así como la Normal Superior.

Las calles están inusualmente poco transitadas a pesar de ser un viernes, que en la Ciudad resultan tumultuosos, ruidosos, poblados y caóticos. Hay mas adolescentes en la calle, algunos en patinetas practicando en la avenida, otros caminando despreocupados.

The Saint Thomas quarter has a ghostly look, the students who should be at the National Polytechnical Institute have remained at home, the nightly rumors about the suspension of classes have left the Diego Rivera, Rabindranath Tagore and Frida Kahlo schools closed, as well as the Superior Teacher's College.

The streets are unusually empty even though it is a Friday, which in the City usually mean tumultuous, noisy, full and chaotic. There are more teenagers in the street, some are skating along the avenue, and others are walking without worry.

Photo of Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral by El Enigma and used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo of Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral by El Enigma and used under a Creative Commons license.

Gitana Mojada [es] shares about one of her trips in the Metro without using the facemask that authorities suggested to be worn in public spaces:

Subi al metro justo las 2pm el TRANREALISMO en su maxima expresion me rodeaba, este es realmente mi ambiente, la gente cubierta de mascaras… los hibridos miedos-humanos, me rodean. Huele a que despertaron, parece que hoy la gente sabe que morira, pero caray…. Olvidaron la primera parte aun estan vivos!

Entonces miro a un niño, su cara reflejaba el maximo panico, sus ojos brillosos, transparentaban la serie de comentarios que su madre le dio antes de salir de casa, me sente a su lado me miraba, asombrado, por mi “valentia” al no traer cubrebocas. Yo asombrada veia a su madre con un semi remedio esquibador del virus, pues su cubremiedos estaba sobre su garganta y no sobre su nariz y boca…

I boarded the Metro exactly at 2pm, the TRANSREALISM in its maximum expression surrounded me, this is really my surroundings, people covered with masks… the human-fearing hybrids surround me. It seems like they’ve just awoken, it seems like people know that they will die today, but hell… They forgot the first part, they’re still alive!

Then I looked to a kid, his face reflected maximum panic, you could see through his shiny eyes the series of comments that his mother gave him before going out of the house, I sat by his side, he looked at me, amazed of my “bravery” for not wearing a facemask. Amazed, I looked at his mother who wore a semi-remedy to avoid the virus, because her fearmask was over her throat and not over her nose and mouth…

Blogger Agridulce recounts frictions after coming back from the Federal District of Mexico City [es]:

Y como todas las veces que voy al D.F. me dediqué a lo mío, salí poco de casa, consentí, fuí consentida y poco ví las noticias. Al regresar a Guanatos City el taxista me preguntó: “¿Oiga y usté de donde viene?, si no es indiscreción”, -De la Ciudad de México- le contesté. Por el retrovisor ví que puso ojos de plato y en todo el recorrido noté sus ganas de salir corriendo del taxi… al final me preguntó que si no le tenía miedo a la influenza, le dije que le tenía más miedo al sistema de salud.

And like all the times I have visited the Federal District, I kept to myself, went out a little bit, took care of and was taken care of, and almost didn’t watch the news. When I came back to Guadalajara, the taxi driver asked me: “Hey, and where are you coming from? If it is not much asking”, “From Mexico City” –I answered. Through the rearview mirror I saw how his eyes grew wide like dinner plates and during the entire ride I noticed his urge to run away from the taxi… At the end he asked me if I wasn’t scared of the influenza, I said that I was more scared of the health system.

Mac of El Rincón No Poético [es] (Non-Poetic Corner) writes about the unfortunate conjunction of the flu panic with a small earthquake in the city [es] that struck the city earlier in the week:

Minutos antes del medio día estacionaba mi coche para llegar al trabajo, y me sorprendió ver que mientras yo quería entrar, todos querían salir.

¿Alarma por influenza en la empresa? Ante esta situación, uno ya no sabe qué esperar. Al llegar a las cabinas para mi programa de radio, me informaron del temblor, mientras los operadores y productores se pitorreaban de la situación.

- ¡Se va a acabar el mundo!

- No, hasta 2012, según los mayas.

Después de la emisión, mi hermana me alegró el día:

“Hoy tembló porque nadie fue ayer a misa”.

Minutes after noon, I was parking my car to reach the office, and I was surprised to see that, while I was trying to get in, everybody wanted to get out.

Alarm of influenza in the office? At this point, one doesn’t know what to expect. When I arrived to the cabins for my radio program, they informed me of the earthquake, while the operators and producers laughed of the situation.

- The end of the world is coming!

– Not until 2012, according to Mayas.

After the transmission, my sister made my day:

“Today we had an earthquake because yesterday nobody went to church.”

Moreover, Twitter had also an important role when it came to opinions and understanding the humor of the victims. Published in Regioblogs [es]:


Eso de la influenza es una campaña viral que me estan tratando de colar por dos o tres lados

That flu stuff is a viral campaign that they’re trying to share with me in two or three ways


mergas! el tema de hoy en twitter son “La influenza vs. Los zombies”… ya pensaron en el soundtrack???

Shit! Today’s topic on Twitter is “Influenza vs Zombies”… Have you thought about the soundtrack yet?


A mis compatriotas mexicanos les diré: Quedarse en Twitter todo el día es la manera más segura de no ser contagiado con #influenza

To my fellow Mexicans I will say: Staying on Twitter all day is the safest way to avoid the transmission of #influenza


Los chilangos somos una raza en peligro de extinsión!!!! =O

We, the chilangos [habitants of Mexico City], are a race in extinction!!!! =O

Mexican newspaper El Universal also collected other curious moments from Twitter regarding the flu [es].

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