HOW I ATE CACTUSES AND GRASSHOPPERS FOR HALF A YEAR - MY MEXICAN QUARANTINE (EN)
In my Mexican covid-19 quarantine diary written ex post , you can read my experiences from the Mexican state of Oaxaca (and partly from Guatemala) during 2020…
If you lived through it at the same time in Central America or somewhere nearby, take it with a grain of salt. Everything is, of course, subjective. Plus, the LatAm countries are huge. There are big differences not only between individual republics, but also between their states and regions within them. It depends on what place and city, but also the neighborhood and the type of accommodation experienced. Someone living in a house with a garden and receiving income from work that s/he did not have to go to probably felt quite different from someone locked in a mini-apartment with one window after a few days without income. Of course, impressions and a retrospective view of the situation will be greatly affected by how much money his family has. Of course, this determines your life everywhere, but it simply applies much more significantly in countries outside Europe: the rich are in fact much richer, the poor are much poorer…
There is a middle class here, just smaller. Most of my friends and acquaintances are on this level (many professorial intellectuals, researchers, lecturers, people in tourism, people in IT and marketing and graphics, event planners, journalists, smaller entrepreneurs,…). But I also have acquaintances from the really very poor and also very, very rich. The point is that, of course, everyone will have different memories of the special situation of this year (probably with an overlap to 2021), for which no one was ready, often considering how much s/he had to fight to survive not only quarantine, but also what to do when it's over… so don't take it as an exact description of how all the expats perceived it, or all the locals for that matter. I’m certainly not describing it as a journalist or anthropologist.
Of course, I also mix my personal experiences and impressions with impressions of friends I talked with for hours who were living in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, a Czech friend in Ecuador, and friends with families in neighboring states of the region… In any case, the notes are very subjective and in the words of my field of sociology: it is a reflection of "participant observation" with no attempt at remaining neutral. The notes helped me settle my memories ex post and somehow close this unexpected story for myself.
PS - Yes, and maybe to get an idea (for Czech speaking people) of where I was, take a look at the Czech Television documentary about Oaxaca, available at: https://www.ceskatelevize.cz/porady/1185966822-na-ceste/212562260120030-na-ceste- after-oaxation/ and possibly take a look at my "quarantine photos" here:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/2WggQJxm9bXZWdEN8> in the album there is not much touristy, just our bare apartment and then a trip at the end… but that’s just how the quarantine was… Albums from the pre-covid era can be found here: https://pietradr.rajce.idnes.cz/
Maybe then your imagination will be a little more colorful when reading my memories. This is because the whole region of Central America is simply gorgeous.
02 - Guatemalan volcanoes, the last views of nature for a long half a year, but at that time I had no idea
In the last days of February I leave Mexican friends in the beautiful state, and town of the same name, Oaxaca, with a sufficient winter dose of salsa, bachata and cumbia dancing, two small trips to friends in Puerta at the Pacific, financially satisfied with tax returns and culturally satisfied with many beautiful local galleries and looking forward to a great month in Guatemala, where I would be able to show the beauties of Guate during a career retreat (https://www.careerdesigner.cz/karierovy-inspiracni-retreat) and then calmly create new work products in the local Impact HUB before the spring training season in the Czech Republic… simply my Q1 classic for several years now ...
Well, this year everything would obviously be different… and from the original plans in Guate, basically only the trip there from Mexico took place and the first less than a week. Events took a relatively fast and unexpected turn in early March.
5th March 2020 Cognitive activities of a career retreat are still running. I successfully meet Peta, who came to me from Ecuador for a retreat… and in the evening I send photos from Guatemalan shops to the Czech Republic , where everything is still selling well - especially pasta and disinfectant gel, which are fast-moving goods there… because in the Czech Republic, the purchase of toilet paper and durable foodstuffs is currently underway. I watch what is happening from a distance, and I am not surprised.
7th March 2020 We party-cook during a Career Retreat with Peta, Rafael and Gorett,… Explanation = we cook by taking Rafa, an almost local artist and chef (a Venezuelan currently living in Guatemala) to local markets and demonstrating about 10 fusion recipes connecting his practice from cuisines from all over the world with what is offered locally. A bottle of wine has to be opened creatively with a drill :) In the evening we look at the net for news and still hope that the pre-covid madness will remain only in Europe.
9th March 2020 I still manage to go to the beach in Monterrico, ride in the mangroves at sunrise with my friend Luis, meet local people wearing their hearts on their sleeves, as well as drug dealers - so there’s a classic colorful mix… I'm seriously considering waiting out the European corona here. I am waiting to see how much work can be done online in the spring… they say not much, everyone still hopes that there will be no lock down in Europe… However, gradually (and very quickly) the number of people per event in the Czech Republic is decreasing, 500 to 50 to 5 to 0… Which really contributes to my plan B - not to hurry with the return to the Czech Republic,and start thinking about how and where I will train online.
10th March 2020 The feeling that I won’t be flying home at the end of March is becoming more realistic - people are already preparing to work from home for a few days (?) - online cooperation seems possible.