Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cloistered Days of May

I've been lax in posting since the swine flu descended and my computer died simultaneously. Even now that I've been back and up and running electronically for a few weeks, I've been remiss in sharing news. So here's a quick round up via pictures. Let's consider this a kind of storybook.News came rolling in about the discovery of more and more swine flu cases in México and beyond. But being without a computer made the consumption of that news tricky. For good or bad, I had to acquire my information from a range of sources, friends, neighbors, Oaxaca papers and brief interludes on the internet using friends' computers. First things first, wear a mask, they say. But not two hours later, a follow-up article warns, "masks don't work after 2 hours of continuous wear." And then a day later, "Masks work up until the point you take them off; then they are contaminated." And finally, "Masks don't work." What's a girl to do?
How about stay at home and play ping pong with her neighbors wearing a mask? Seems safe.

Although, it depends on your opponents... (they look devious)When I'd venture out into the street (which was very seldom that first week), it didn't seem like anything was different. Most people were walking around, just as usual. Many of them without masks. But then you happen by the a store window with an odd sale on offer. Or perhaps you'd cross by the Seven Regions Fountain on a main thorough fare and see this:

Even the statues and graffiti art were taking precautions.

The main trouble with a health epidemic in Mexico is that the sources for information are flawed. The print media is largely sensational, slow and not very reliable. The internet, while more up-t0-date, can be filled with alarmists trying to fill the 24-hour news cycle with something, anything. My neighbor suggests this is precisely why we should be generating news on the ground level, amongst neighbors and citizens. Now, I'm all for citizen journalism. I think it's an important and vital tool for sharing information at the local, national and global level. In fact, I'm dedicating a large part of my work here to training those very citizen journalists. And yet, I have to say I had my misgivings about talking to people around Oaxaca during the initial couple of weeks of swine flu fury. My dear Mexican host family called it a hoax. They thought it was the government's way of distracting attention away from other issues. And they weren't alone. The teachers' union--who had planned a strike during the first week of pandemic panic--speculated that it was a ruse to obscure their agenda. But then there was my neighbor's Spanish instructor who had a friend, a nurse, who said there were many more dying in the hospitals than was being reported I have to say I am skeptical of both sides. I have a hard time believing information shared from a friend of a friend of a neighbor. People love to gossip here--and have a different sense of the line between chronicalling and storytelling. They also have a deep (often merited) mistrust of the powers that be. So how do you listen to all that static and pull out the truth from it? I don't know. For me it was weighing what I was reading, with what I was hearing, with what my gutt told me.

And after a week holed up in my house, my gutt told me to get some air. So I made a field trip tp the grocery store for some supplies.I made plans for dinner and chocolate brownie sundaes with friends. Veggie stew and homemade cornbread...Mmm...worth possible infection!
Chocolate makes everything better...even H1N1!

And eventually, I ventured out with Laura and Caitlin to a café. I know! Enclosed, indoor space. Daring!
Here is my first out-of-the-house smoothie. Isn't it pretty. You'll note that I'm writing a long letter to Aubrey at the same time. (Recognize the letter, Aubrey? I hope I didn't rub any pork flu on it...)Mostly, I spent a lot of time reading and writing, and staring at my own feet...

**Note to those following this blog--I backlogged a few entries for April and May. So if you're interested there are some new "old" entries here and here, or you can just scroll down a bit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Influenza Porcina

I'm without a computer over the last two and a half weeks. It's in the shop in Puebla. Hopefully, I'll have my lovely Mac back in a few days--and will get to posting on what's been happening on this side of the border. In the meantime, I saw this video on my neighbor Mark's blog--and thought it a more profound and sensitive coverage of the swine flu issue. I encourage you all to take a look. The news has been over saturated by panic-inducing information. So it's worth a gander at something more balanced. You only need watch up to the 9:30 mark.

More soon...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Indoor sky

The view from the courtyard at Café Nuevo Mundo

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sushi Reward

Picking up my computer in Puebla was a hassle. A 9-hour round-trip bus ride in order to pick up a laptop is no fun, let's be honest. So, I rewarded myself with a comida of white wine and sushi. It was on the fancy side for my current tight purse strings; I just couldn't resist being somewhere where there's a few more options for food diversity. (And you'll note a letter to Sara as my comida companion!)