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What Life Is Like in Jalisco, Mexico During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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One of my favorite things about living in Mexico is waking up to the sound of birds chirping outside my window. These days, I can hear the birds all day long, as the hustle and bustle of daily life has quieted. While media headlines claim Mexico is turning a blind eye to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, I see a very different situation.

Like in the U.S., it is the state governors in Mexico who are taking the lead in ordering mandatory and voluntary stay-at-home orders. Here in the state of Jalisco, a five-day voluntary order has been extended four more days and people in this town of thousands of retired ex-pats are taking COVID-19 very seriously. It seems the majority of ex-pats I know here are over 60 and can likely claim some form of pre-existing condition. Many have serious challenges that could make them among the most at risk — myself included — and it seems just about everyone is following the directive to stay home.

A notice in Spanish

Schools and most stores are closed, except essential services. Of those, most are offering delivery or curbside pick-up. If you have to go inside, it’s a few people at a time and the clerks are masked and gloved. There has not been enough panic buying to interrupt supply, so you can still get just about anything — including cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

Care groups have been formed to check-in on the elderly living alone. I saw a post on Facebook from one woman who was creating a list of people to call daily and go to their homes if they did not answer. Another young Mexican lady posted that she will pick up and deliver groceries for free so others can stay home. Bilinguals have been translating Spanish language news conferences on the virus for the “gringo” population to have the latest information. And many foreigners are paying their Mexican housekeepers and gardeners to stay home for two weeks or more.

Our numbers countrywide remain low — currently under 500 — and the closest case in our area is in a major city about 30 minutes away. We are hoping that by staying home now, we can stop the spread before it hits our vulnerable community.

A typical day in Mexico is made up of the music of mariachi bands, the whistle and bang of fireworks or “cohetes,” and the screams and laughter of children chasing each other in the street. All quiet now, except for the birds, who continue to sing and remind us all to return to our nests.

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Originally published: March 27, 2020
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