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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


Guatemalan intro


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.


11th March 2020 We return from the Pacific coast to Antigua… tourists have almost entirely deserted the town (Antigua is the most touristy place in Guatemala, the hub for backpackers, expats and hipsters in Central America) - in the Peta’s dorm in the Adra hostel, where there was about 40 people, only 4 remain. From one day to the next, people simply disappeared.


12th March 2020 I have my last coffee tasting and talk with Tito in Fat Cat Coffee, take a look at the Impact Hub, see the jeweler in Xibalba… unfortunately I indefinitely postpone the production of my own chocolate with Fernando and quickly make some English and Czech infographics in Canva calling for any work online for the next few months… I have no idea yet that the whole world needs the same, not just me… I decide to quickly leave the paid monthly rent in Guatemala and return to Oaxaca, Mexico - my theory: bigger country, more possibilities for departure in case of possible problems (I had good intuition) ... and I persuade Peta to return to Ecuador (to work at the hostel and has most things) tomorrow… don't wait until Monday (also good intuition) ...


On the same day, I find out from my Mexican contacts if I have a place to return and I will not be bedless in Oaxaca.


We do what we can… we both leave in a hurry on the night from Thursday to Friday… Peta to the capital to the airport, I through the capital to the bus, back to Tapachula on the Mexican-Guatemalan border …


The tension from the strange unknown situation is already beginning to be felt here as well. Tourists pack out of the country in a number of hours. I'm a little afraid of what's going on at the border. But good. There are policemen standing by the volunteers having us fill out forms stating whether we have a fever… I wonder if anyone there ever voluntarily marked “yes”. And then what happened… hmmm? So there was only an outgoing stamp in Guate and an incoming in Mex, a wish for a nice stay and ok… so bienvenida after a few days back again. I'm going to the bus to find out how to get to Oaxaca (I'll shorten it to “Oax”).


I find that the buses to Oax are sold out at the border. And also to Puerto Escondido, which is part of the state of Oaxaca, but on the coast. I have acquaintances there and somewhere to sleep. No luck.


So I'm homeless for 12 hours at the station in Tapachula… A white priest (probably a missionary) really wants to talk to me here and then really wants to shake my hand goodbye. So I then go to disinfect it, I've probably already caught the global panic…? But the normal disinfectant gels in little Tapachula (and even smaller two local pharmacies) are no longer there. So I'm buying the last ones for kids with pictures of Hello Kitty and Transformers :) They say there (according to info from Europe) will soon be a shortage of goods… Ex post edit: it didn't happen in the end and after a few days (a week max) you can buy liters of disinfection here on every corner. In case you want to bathe in it ... The only stupid thing is that I feel I should wash myself after using the gels in some shops and I’m not sure they really serve a disinfecting function. Well, then again, the virus might die by putting a gel "sauce" on your hands, who knows...


We talk to taxi drivers about the beginning of global hysteria. So far, people here really think (or rather hope) that it won't happen here. And if so, it will pass quickly.


On the way from Tapa, I take a little forced stop-over in Puerto. It took many more hours to get to Oax, so I chose this variant). Pepe, the owner of the Casa Kei hostel, gives me a discount - says it’s for refugees :)… and I go to surf, yup, at least I can see it this year, but there are no waves, so I just swim. It's still quite optimistic, but not for long.


In Guate, the suspicion of such rapid depopulation by tourists was probably more sinister; in Mexico everyone hopes (at least here on the beach) that it will not be so terrible, because Mexico and Mexicans have already survived worse things… ex post edit: still in August Pepe sells local food to survive, the hostel is empty, so at least they started to cook various fish specialties and delivering orders…


After about two days of dragging long distances, Peta and I confirm "good has come" ...


Short summary: Guatemala closes borders 21st March bilaterally and it continues through August, Ecuador announced border closure on March 14 effective from March 15. Peťa managed to fly back to work with a postponed ticket…. One week longer in deliberation and I'd still be in Guate.


03 - empty streets of historic center of Oaxaca, this pedestrian zone is usually full of people at all times of day… not this year :(


The first days in Oaxaca just after the introduction of quarantine


16th March 2020. I'm going to room with my friend Carlos in at a new address in the center. I had arranged it for my return in June, so it sped up a little. I have known Carlos from my original roommate a few streets over for the last two years.

Because Carlos has also moved to the new address a few days before, he has nicely painted walls and aesthetically placed rooms (he’s an esthete and a designer and his priorities are a little different :), but that's about it from a practical point of view. He also has half his things in boxes, and I’ve got my sack and backpack.


16th March 2020. Here, too, the preventive measures of the "jornada nacional de sana distancia" begin, schooling, events, and any non-essential activities are cancelled.


Carlos wonders a bit why I am coming back (after all, Guate still has 3 days before closure and the quarantine in Mexico is announced today, but still hopes it will not be too bad (fyi: the first infected in Mexico was identified on February 28th, after a trip from Italy).


It is rumored to be a disease of rich whites, which we brought to them from Europe (despite the Chinese origin, it is believed the problem came here from Europe)… fortunately the Mexicans here in Oax are quite used to tourists, so I take it quite ok and they don't lynch me :)


Gradually, all shops except groceries and pharmacies are closing, sometimes it is possible to see someone with a mask, but not many yet. There are still a few days left before the mandatory mask wearing for another infinity of months ...


Sometimes we hear news from neighboring countries that there has been shopping hysteria and buying goods in bulk (and maybe a few cases in Mexico), but there were and are always enough disinfectant gels and food. Based on the few local cases and experiences from foreign stores, shops preventively introduce the maximum number of units for each purchase… new prices and limits appear, especially on basic foods. That was reasonable, in my opinion, because it calmed people down a bit.


The original outlook for the quarantine deadline is 19th April ex post edit: the duration of the strictest measures lasted until the end of July, but that does not mean that from August 1st everything worked normally (certainly not like the summer regime in the Czech Republic) ... only a few restaurants and all shops could open under strict conditions, masks were required everywhere, etc.… but more about that later.


In April, "ley seca" is introduced for quarantine in most places in Mexico, i.e. restrictions on the sale of alcohol during quarantine. Like no alcohol or beer. You can buy something during the specified hours. Something, of course, in small shops, when you know a local saleswoman and tell her not to tell anyone (see, Bara:) ... But it's certainly not possible to stock up on hectoliters of booze and just drink through the quarantine… Every state in Mexico (31 states + the capital of CDMX > read Ciudad México) has, of course, its own modifications. Sometimes even sub-municipalities. So what you're reading here was true in the state of Oaxaca, and moreover, specifically in the capital of the same name, where I was.


Well, I can't fully assess the effectiveness of that decision to limit alcohol sales, but it probably has a rational core… e.g. in connection with Mexico (and I suspect other neighboring countries) having really big problems with a high level of domestic violence. During quarantine, when there is no chance to run away from the aggressor (whoever it is in the family) to work or school, the addition of alcohol is not a good mix. My friend Abigail, who is very involved in activism against domestic violence and cooperates with local non-profits, says that so far the number of deaths from covid cannot be compared to the number of deaths per year in Mex due to domestic violence (murders + suicides with this motive). Minimally during the first wave.


If someone knows how to crack Spanish lyrics, you can, for example, take a look here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OdKgbLL4y335UFZdBxV5cVaXDcQ1K2I1/view?fbclid=IwAR1AjlLYnm5c3Jq_JrHluuuuvvEs0GzWUn it is enough to read only the introduction of the professional work, which was created at UNAM (the most prestigious mex university), on this topic in the context of covid. Btw, in Mexico 10 women die every day from causes associated with domestic violence. From January to July 2020, 123,000+ investigations into domestic violence were launched. The data shows the growth in numbers during the quarantine period. And, of course, this is a huge increase compared to previous years. More than half of the respondents stated that during the quarantine there was some type of violence in the family (against women, children or other weaker family members).


Well, I'm not going to do a full discourse right now… but this topic is really alive in Mex and very often it has been compared with the effects of covid. I hear the argument here all the time - covid: why do we have to stop making money and close our businesses, when so many people die here every year from other diseases and murders and domestic violence, and so far the government has not been interested or done anything right… The fact is that the virus is still quite abstract in comparison. And I'm not very surprised by the local’s questions ...


The turn of March and April: everyone is still dealing with covid. Of course. As everywhere else in the world… They are a little scared, prefer not to hug people or shake hands, no one knows what's coming and no one knows that we’ll be in quarantine for so long. On the other hand, not only Czechs face difficult times with humor. Of course, the memes come and go and sarcastic and educational songs are created… I still have the cumbia “coronavirus” downloaded on my mobile phone ... You can find the clip and the funny collage here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXne58Di38A&ab_channel=LosAngelesAzulesVEVO it is surprising that it was uploaded to YT as early as January 2020, when it was so far responding "only" to the situation in China. In short - wash your hands and more text here: https://www.letras.mus.br/mister-cumbia/la-cumbia-del-coronavirus/ … I think Mexicans have Cumbia songs (their favorite genre across generations) really about everything - not only about love and ruin, but about all kinds of food, and about global diseases. The advantage is that you can dance to it with anyone :) And you want to :)



04 - “... where is the cat? /… In quarantine, duh”- loose translation and quarantine variance on the classic meme














There is no quarantine like quarantine


I understand that the perception of quarantine was and is individual. Solitude was hard for some, for others the constant company of the same people. For some it may have seemed long or a relatively short few weeks in Europe.


Of course, as everywhere else in the world, quarantine is harder to tolerate in big cities, where you are almost trapped in a small apartment, as opposed to someone who has a house and at least a small yard.

However, although the most essential quarantine lasted here in Mex from the end of March to the end of July and all mask and hygiene measures continue until the coming autumn, we can be happy because we do not have (unlike in Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Peru , Bolivia, ..) such strict "toque de queda" i.e. the obligation to stay at home and can leave only to purchase food, medicine, travel to the hospital, often only at a specific time ... even if some parts / states of Mexico are set up like Puebla, Jalisco, etc. So I really think it's pretty cool in Europe.


I have to say for myself that the restricted freedoms in a closed country and closed apartment were psychologically demanding, but at least I could go to the store to buy food when I wanted… and it seems to me, based on statistics, that the strictness of "toque de queda" didn't work in the end and the covid curve grew as fast as in Guate and Salvador, for example, as in Mexico. So I don't know who came up with the idea that it will be a super functional solution :(


However, the new things coming to quarantine in Mexico (as well as in all surrounding countries) (in addition to closed schools, all shops, restaurants) are the following:

  • closed parks surrounded with tape,

  • ban on sitting outside on benches and walls,

  • closure of certain areas in the mountains,

  • closed beaches,

  • non-functional 95% of intercity connections, ...

I.e. for people in the city zero opportunity to be in nature for the next half year… that's a decent head trip ... So no, I did lie around on the beach during the quarantine - nor did anyone else living here. So I usually live 300 km from the coast (more in the mountains), but the locals who live here were not allowed to go to the beach or the water until the end of July. Then it started to relax a little (for example, swimming and surfing was allowed, but not lying on the beach), and it also depended, of course, on the benevolence of the patrolling officer and the areas. In some places the locals protected themselves and kept the rules, somewhere you even saw strangers lying on the beaches - often in places in front of hotels… Despite being officially forbidden.


I understand the logic that here people like to associate and sit in parks, on beaches, etc. But the fact that you can no longer go or walk anywhere and vent your head in green spaces was really mentally demanding. I could never have imagined how hard it is to be without nature - to have a chance to walk through at least a park with grass, shrubs, trees… Or at least see some greenery… And I'm not talking about any trips at all. It was science fiction, of course. Especially when many villages in the mountains voluntarily closed themselves off from the world, i.e. they put barricades on the roads and it was not possible to go anywhere further into the mountains.


There was also gradually big restrictions and then bans on the operation of local bus connections (the function of city public transport, for example, to get paramedics and salesmen to work), but long-distance buses are final, in Guate also a ban on taxiing or driving a private car if it is not to a family member (i.e. those who have not left Guate by now, no longer have a chance for another six months, in Colombia this ban, for example, is still continuing through August).


Otherwise, it's funny, at the end of March, that all the locals are annoyed not so much by the quarantine at the moment (we're still at the beginning), but how they will spend Semana Santa (Easter period, when family and friends meet and outside the Christian tradition quite a lot of rubbish and people from the cities go to the beaches) ... most people in my area canceled it (without a car they would get nowhere anyway, buses almost no longer run, and my social bubble is so relatively responsible)… nevertheless “they say” that a lot of people just didn't want to lose their holidays and reservations and they still went out and supported the spread (but I kind of think that even without it, the virus would still be happy with us). In addition, not only some beaches, but also some villages have voluntarily closed themselves by already blocking their arrival, and they have not allowed anyone else since the end of March. But of course Mexico has thousands of km of beaches, so the places for "covid holiday" were probably found anyway, when someone had tension despite the ban ...




05 - the first furnishings in my bare flat :) first a bed, a chair in a few days, a table in a few weeks… it went slowly, but in the end I made it quite cozy























Last March purchases


Otherwise, in the last week of March, I arrange things practically: I buy and charge a local SIM card, because since the first day of arrival I’m dealing with the internet, which is quite a superhuman task during quarantine (i.e. outside it), in the end it took me 8 weeks to get into the apartment…


Somehow our bare apartment (or a new apartment? :) is gradually being furnished , I buy saucepans and a few things for cooking, Carlos got me a second-hand bed, shelf and a lamp, I buy a supply of disinfection, various extension cords and I still manage to buy a few pieces of clothes twice in a thrift shop. A few shops are still a bit open on the sly, but for example you are not allowed to be try clothes on and people are not allowed to touch things and they must be handled by the assistant, etc. I don't think it works very well.


As everywhere in the world, illogical measures are chaotically being introduced, where you can touch some things in the store, but not others - well, ok, each country has somehow tried to set it up from the beginning by the "trial and error" method. Specifically, in the local Soriana mall (something like our Tesco) they gradually introduced the system where all "non-essential" departments, i.e. everything except food and medicine, which is normally already closed in small shops, can theoretically be bought in the mall. The section inside the shop is surrounded by tape, however, and you have to call the salesman and explain what you want and they will bring it… Well, if you don't know what they have, you're out of luck because it's sometimes quite badly described (I bothered so long with my slightly vague description of what kind of extension cord I needed, until I finally persuaded the salesman to let me crawl under the tape for a few seconds to grab what I needed…). Otherwise, the hygienic effect of this measure is really zero in my opinion, because everyone who would normally go through quickly, grab something and go pay, gathered in one place at the tape and we waited for the salesman, who of course brought goods to show us at a snail’s pace.


Anyway, it was still crucial for me that I managed to buy the basic equipment for the apartment, a few pieces of clothing to change into, and more markers and a sketchbook for drawing <3… that was well done. Because the stationery store was closed for another 4 months and in the end the markers were barely marking, but better than nothing. And thanks to the quarantine, I finally found a few hours of drawing after x years.


Markets (such as farmer’s markets) are still working, also handing out from a window for now (cafes, pseudo street food, but it's already basically forbidden, the first denunciations appear: just classic - my neighbor can still earn money but I can't, so I'll call the cops on him and they fine him and stick signs "clausurado" in front and he’s finished… if I get nothing, then so do you, but this is probably happening everywhere…


At the time of the biggest peak (in Mex circa April - July 2020, but in fact it was peaking there almost all the time :) the markets were sometimes closed, which I think was quite devastating for the various families who sell there. But as soon as they could sell, as is the market’s custom, they really tried to get hygiene so that they would not be shut down again, i.e. sellers insisted on face masks for all buyers and sellers, classic, like everywhere, hand and shoe disinfection and hands in front of them… There is a man or woman at each entrance to the market and you have to disinfect yourself in front of them. No excuses… Somewhere you have a creative "gallows" with a canister of water on a string + soap on a string… Your temperature has been taken at the entrance of almost all shops and markets since the beginning of the pandemic… Do you have a cold? Bad luck… you can't buy anything, they won't let you in and you won't get anywhere… if you don't have family and friends, you're screwed… Cops even fined people on the street if they caught them without a mask outside no matter how hot it was - masks were mandatory everywhere inside and outside from the end of March indefinitely, or at least until the end of the year… At least …



06 - the first days of sewing masks in our apartment. Carlos sews while his visiting friend Memo is ironing in the back


Carlos "tailor roommate"


From the beginning I show Carlos how people sew face masks in the Czech Republic. I show him what our mothers and others in the country sewed at home… So far (!) the verbal battle has not started yet… but what is not, of course will be … Otherwise my roommate Carlos organized big events in the pre-covid period (about design, or around the LGBT community), he sells in two galleries and sews ties and bow ties for weddings and other events… already at the end of March it is clear that all that is over for him… but like most people, he still hoped to survive those few days at home with a little savings (haha,… we were naive).


And then the masks: because Carlos has a professional machine at home, beautiful fabrics, I tell him to go for it… he doesn't really want to (I understand: it doesn't sound like a sexy product), but then he hears it from another friend and starts examining the cuts and there are the first attempts… I remember mask no.2 (no.1 was a test defect).


Otherwise, we basically talk every night and take it back and forth, what's new, what the restrictions are and the potential danger and possibility of continued quarantine… we all still hope that it will pass in a month… The uncertainty is strange and the Mexicans are surprised that in the end the virus and the quarantine measures actually came here as well. And that the government is really acting, because it usually doesn't do so much when other disasters happen here.


Although overall, even during quarantine and in retrospect, it seems to me that they simply take it less hysterically than we do here in Europe. They are used to various natural disasters, economic disasters, politically strange decisions, and the fact that the state does not care too much in 90% of cases. And even if they don't like it, they are just trying to survive within the limits of the situation and cope with it somehow. And I actually like that. It's not careless. It's not that they take it easy. But it's just the way it is and it's just "tenemos q luchar" (somehow we have to struggle through it).


In any case, thanks to corona, Carlos finally got down to it (in the style of "necessity is the mother of invention"), expanding his product portfolio. And thanks to the masks, it really took off. He just sent me a photo of women's dresses and he is preparing a shirt, 3 seamstresses have joined him, he sells masks in the USA, Costa Rica and all over Mexico. Through acquaintances. And acquaintances of acquaintances, and it’s booming. So I keep my fingers crossed for him. He's a clever boy :)





07 - “I am so alone ... /… am I really doomed to live in isolation? / Will this loneliness ever end? /… Don’t touch me, a***ole !!!! … One of the jokes describing our mood after several extensions of quarantine… by a month, by two, by three, by four ...















Help across the ocean


From the first shock of the great uncertainty, in which I see no end, online therapeutic meetings with my friend and excellent therapist Šárka help me… thanks to this I try to get out of such a state of emergency ("scout with a backpack always prepared", as Šárka said) and I go buy lipstick ... They say you need to throw yourself in "Barbie mode", relieve stress… well, I’m not sure about that in the bare apartment, things from the second-hand and my uncertain return date,… a kind of homeless Barbie:)


But I'm happy with the lipstick. I bought it almost the last day in a good shop for a great price of about 18 CZK (before they closed it for the next six months or forever…?…).


I also handle important communication with landlords in Prague and it’s a weight off my back that a friend from the USA, Ryan, who is subletting my apartment, does not want to and cannot go anywhere for safety reasons, so at least his help with rent is amazing… he tells me to keep a diary… I say that there is nothing to do when there is nothing to do: just keep talking “coffee + a bunch of work + quarantine”… he tells me to write it anyway… well I don't write anything :D… just monthly summaries of my priorities in my “Career DYARY” (www.CareerDYARY.com).


Um, in the end, Ryan's words came back to me, and I finally decided to write it all down. For myself mainly . But also for the others, who have been asking… Well, I'm writing it now. It's August 2020 and I'm still running a lot of adrenaline as for what will happen and especially for how long, and all at once I’m looking for basic things here in Mex, and securing things remotely, not only about work, apartment, but also tickets, additional insurance for an extended trip, bank cards, which will soon expire… well, I just don't have the energy and time at all (paradox, right) and especially probably not even the mood… so I'll throw it together now, at the end of summer, in my last days here (perhaps) - as a form of farewell, I look at photos, notes in my diary and my “Career DYARY”, calendar, social networks, chats with friends, records of purchases… it's actually quite a lot of extra work, but somehow it probably calms me therapeutically to go through this unexpected half year again from a distance.


Edit: now it's the end of September 2020 and I'm finally getting to write this memorial blog. Every day, those emotions disappear a little and I kind of miss some of it. Not only Mexican friends, Spanish, great food from Oaxaca, private salsa lessons, but also just the Latin mind-set. Here, the complaining about everything and the wait for someone to solve something for us is sometimes overwhelming. I am writing this blog when another quarantine is beginning in the Czech Republic and there may be another lockdown (edit: it started here in October). The Czech Republic is on the blacklist of the whole of Europe. Just like Mexico used to be. My friends make fun of me that I am a covid-tourist and I deliberately choose the destination where it is the worst and I spend quarantine time there: D They say I should go to the Philippines next, it's getting worse there, so it's time :)) )



08 - coffee & biscuits at Caracola, veil, comp ready for video calls


Mission: Internet


Back to the end of March 2020: it is clear to me that I urgently need to arrange internet for us in our apartment. I am afraid that we will also be told "toque de queda" according to the models of neighboring countries. So I'm trying, quite in vain, to somehow secure it. Of course, companies such as internet providers function, but “function” is probably too strong a word - these people go to work, but as there is total confusion and mess and uncertainty around everything now, they have little reason to lift a finger.


Carlos writes to 3 companies about the internet, one does not answer, the other claims that it will not reach us and the third says yes - it took only 8 weeks of nerves and furnishing and a piece of wall fell out during installation - but gradually.


First the internet promised us everything was fine. Then they came and it wasn’t. They said we had to get the owner’s permission from the neighboring building to stretch the wire for us from the nearest place across his roof… Carlos says that the neighbors do not have to let me do it at all, that it is common and that I have to take my dress and lipstick and go act like a “gringo” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gringo) in trouble and talk a lot with a US accent and hope that they will have mercy on a blonde and give us permission… it took x days to find out who the owner is and then fine-tune the form of the permission (each time the support service claimed that something else was enough: first telephone confirmation, then a scan of handwritten confirmation, then confirmation in person for a change).


Of course, handling something about the internet and some wires on the roof and special permits via the helpline is a big hassle in CZ as well. And I have to say that I outdid myself, that I did it in Spanish as well, and in the end we miraculously got what we needed :) I still don't understand it :D


In the end, I reached even the highest goal, and that was getting myself, the internet technician and the owner in the same place at the same time, during the quarantine… And as I say, except for a piece of collapsed wall when installing a cable, we have internet at home… hurray!


Luckily, the internet in general, once you have it, is pretty fast in Oaxaca, and I've handled all the video calls. You probably understand that if the net is your only way to connect with work, family and friends… and potentially also with food hypothetically if they forbade us to go out, you're annoyed when it takes "a little longer".




09 - our "kitchen" after the first days of moving in, everything second hand… advantage: it's free, disadvantage: very often it does not work (for example, like the microwave, which eventually became a practical cabinet)



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