Tag Archives: H1N1

The Bronzen Child

EdgarFelipe Calderon says it’s time for all of us in the tourism industry  to tighten our Teva straps. He’s unveiled a new plan, Vive Mexico (Mexico Lives), to help bring bodies back into hotel rooms. The plan involves getting big time celebrities to talk up the country like it was their favorite plastic surgeon or yoga instructor. Here’s an excerpt from the Vive Mexico press release:

“I invite everyone to let visitors from abroad know that coming to Mexico is a great experience, that Mexico is not only a beautiful country, but also a strong country, capable of dealing with and overcoming the greatest adversity and that we welcome them to our beaches, cities and towns,” he said.

The people of La Gloria, the so-called epicenter of the epidemic, were way ahead of Fe-Cal on this one. They may not have Bono or Shakira, but they have their own little gel-haired rock star, Edgar Hernandez. Locals don’t see Hernandez as “Patient Zero,” like the rest of the world paints him, but as the strong little boy who was the first to survive the virus. And you better believe them dudes was all over his notoriety like miel de maple on hotcakes. Not even a month has gone by since H1N1 mania, and the local artisans have already completed a bronze statue in his likeness.

Local authorities say the statue, which depicts Edgar holding a frog in one hand as a symbol of the biblical plague, will do wonders for attracting tourists. I concur! Not only did little Edgar survive (both the flu and the subsequent media storm), but he lived on to become his own statue! He’s an inspiration for us all. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m booking my tickets to La Gloria today.

*Photo from Notimex via Yahoo Mexico

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Armchair Epidemiologist

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Last Thursday I went out reporting with a videographer who had read that many of the flu cases had come from the Gustavo Madero neighborhood in the northern part of Mexico City.  In addition to being home to the Basilica de Guadelupe, the most important Catholic site in the Western Hemisphere, the neighborhood is also home to several ciudades perdidas or squatter settlements where entire extended families set up houses made of scrap material.

We talked to some of the residents of the ciudades perdidas, many of whom rely on the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the nearby shrine for their livelihood. Without pilgrims to buy trinkets or candy, many residents are left with barely enough money to buy food, let alone extra liters of purified water. With a water supply that only runs from 6 am to 3 pm, this makes the simple-yet-effective act of hand washing a challenge.

As we returned to our car, a woman named Chayo approached us and asked if we could please bring her some vaccines for her 11 grandchildren. We told her that since this is a new strain of virus, the new vaccines wouldn’t be ready for some time and that her energy would be better spent procuring supplies like face masks and soap.

The public health issues of water conservation and overpopulation are not unique to Mexico City. Virtually all of the world’s mega cities face similar challenges. The outbreak of the H1N1 virus should serve as a reminder that, as world citizens, these are issues we must continue to address.

Chayo and her extended family aren’t the only ones affected by H1N1. With the Basilica closed to worshipers, the local priests adapted by holding hourly outdoor masses. Here is a video of a priest explaining the new procedure for the rite of communion.

“We will not be giving communion in the mouth. You’ll have to extend your left hand to recieve it, put it in your right hand and then into your mouth.”

The outdoor mass is only one of the ways Chilangos have so far adapted to their new circumstances. As I write this, cleaning crews are scouring the nooks and crannies of DF’s underground. It will be interesting to see what other new measures will be taken in the coming weeks and months.

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