Chilangringo couple skips the Flu-opolis for a long weekend in San Miguel
Residents of smaller Mexican towns and cities seem more relaxed about the flu
You know the swine flu frenzy is starting to get to you when you’re sitting on your couch in Mexico City for the 7th night in a row wondering if the new Beverly Hills 90210 series will be coming on.
My husband and I reached this point on Thursday. We officially maxed out on panicked Mexican newspaper articles, no restaurants to eat at, and the general paranoia weighing heavily on the D.F. It was time to get out of town.
After a bit of online research and commentary from San Miguel de Allende bloggers, we decided that the town was just the ticket. San Miguel did not appear to be suffering from the same widespread panic that had prompted the shut-down of nearly everything in Mexico City. It is also a mere 3 hour drive away, thereby allowing us to avoid flu-screening drama or potential proximity to sickies at the airport. So Friday morning, we hit the road to confirm this for ourselves.
Arriving in San Miguel was truly a breath of fresh air. After parking our car, we momentarily hemmed & hawed over what to do with our blue face masks. Shoving them into our back pockets seemed like a good compromise, and this was confirmed by a sea of tapabocas-free faces wandering the streets. We discovered that the flu pandemic has certainly not left San Miguel untouched—bars, clubs, religious services, and large events have been closed, in addition to the mandated school closings. So while life in general here feels a bit quiet, it is still functional.
Almost all restaurants are open for normal dine-in business, and we’ve only passed by a few retailers with closed doors. (that is not entirely surprising, given that the hot month of May is in the low season for San Miguel tourism.) The vast majority of fruit sellers and artisan merchants are peddling their wares, albeit voicing many alluring promises of 20% or 30% discounts off the marked prices. San Miguel’s many parks have been filled mostly with mask-less people both yesterday and today.
In El Jardin, the main plaza downtown we even observed one mariachi band braving today’s 93F (34C) weather. And the most refreshing part—a dozen folks dancing to El Mariachi Loco with seemingly no concern that AH1N1 flu germs might be transmitted via trumpet.
The most prevalent reminder of the current “state of alert” reiterated by Guanajuato State’s Health Minister is the blue face masks worn by a majority of food service workers we’ve observed.
I have found some humor even in that, however. All street vendors are definitely wearing the masks. But the fancy restaurant we visited for lunch today? Not a mask in sight. And last night’s dinner at another higher-end spot? Our waiter’s mask seemed to be in a different position every time he came to our table. We haven’t been concerned in the least, but it has been amusing to note the apparent correlation between money and immunity to the flu virus!
As we visited multiple hotels yesterday to find lodging for our two nights here, many proprietors confirmed our suspicions—business was great through the beginning of this week with solid bookings through the next. But by mid week, the cancellations started rolling in...both from foreigners scrapping trips to Mexico, and from Mexicans who now wanted to get out of the country. Of the 23 rooms in our mid-range B&B, only 2 other couples joined us at breakfast. It’s quiet, but not as quiet as our lives have been in Mexico City all week.
We have one more night here in San Miguel. Tonight we’ll be celebrating an early one-year wedding anniversary dinner at The Restaurant, one of San Miguel’s hot “see and be seen” spots as we’ve been told by several locals.
We are both exceptionally happy about having chosen this for our weekend swine-flu escape. We´re even happier every time an SMA resident doesn´t recoil in horror after learning that we live in D.F., the hub of flu panic.
For any San Miguel readers, thank you for your hospitality & giving us a much-needed toque of normalcy during this time of country-wide stress. We promise to leave your state just as we found it: 100% free of confirmed cases of swine flu.