Covid-19 and Merida: Why Its Still a Great City

Merida is still a great city. It could be proving to be even better than we originally thought. Covid-19 has caused this city to shine.  We are learning a lot about Merida while living through the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine here. The “time-out” that the world has been forced to take has helped us to open our eyes and understand Merida, the city, on a more intimate and political level. We are definitely more tied into the politics than we ever wanted to be. As foreigners here during a virus attack that is primarily brought here by foreigners we are also very tuned into how the people are reacting to our presence.

Merida is well known as the safest place in all of Mexico and this experience, living here through a deadly pandemic has shown us why. Here are 5 things that we have learned about Merida while we have been quarantined here.

  1. Hospitality: Local hospitality in regards to places we have visited is unmatched.
  2. Preparedness:  Merida had several tools at their disposal for a time such as this #grateful. The city was able to shutdown and still not lose the high quality of life that it offers for a relatively cheap price.
  3. Local Government Authority and Responsiveness: the local government’s response was quick and divisive
  4. Consciousness: The people on the street, in our neighborhood, working in the grocery stores….the common man and woman have been treating this pandemic with the respect that a deadly airborne virus deserves.
  5. The Safest Place to Live: This has proven to be the safest place to ride out this pandemic for us.

 

Hospitality

Escargot Panaderia Francesa owner delivering our delicious goods!

First, I must say that I view this is a travelers disease. The way that this pandemic is spread from community to community is by way of the traveler moving to and fro. The heaviest areas of infection here in Merida are the areas that are filled with expats. That said, we have not felt any negativity, prejudiced or angst against us here. Originally, when we moved here there was a feeling of indifference that some of the population exhibited. Since the onslaught of covid-19 it appears that people are letting their humanitarian sides shine through. There has not been a backlash that we have felt; in fact, quite to the contrary. We feel the genuine warmth and compassion of the people that we are in contact with. Including our landlord….but of course we’re giving him money but he still asks about our family and tells us about his. These people are solid and we are better people for being around them.

 

 

Preparedness

Ambulances being equipped with ventilators.

The response of Merida’s people, the response of businesses and the government here was and is an #AllHandsOnDeck mentality. Well that is the way it seems from an outsider looking in. There were already a lot of phone applications and services to make your life more convenient here. With the coming of this virus the existing applications were modified and new ones were created so that people did not need to leave their homes for much of anything. Runners were made available for grocery shopping, getting medications or something like protein powder from a health food store. Apps were also made to consult physicians without needing to leave your home.

 

Effective Government

The response of the government here in the Yucatan was, as I stated earlier, swift and effective. They were early to close schools, public areas, gyms, bars and the like all ahead of the official quarantine. Since the quarantine began it also ceased the sell of all alcohol and they have extended that ban twice. In busy areas they shut down entire sections of avenues. All grocery stores have one way in and one way out….. the list goes on and on. The government wanted to reduce all transit activity by 70%. When we venture out, we see that they have met their goal.

 

Consciousness

Apart from loud cries for the alcohol ban to be banished the people here in Merida have been by and large compliant. One could even say that they have been aggressive in safety measures. Once the news of the Coronavirus Pandemic broke everyone around Merida was wearing masks, our gym began checking temperatures for entry, store clerks were sanitizing people as they entered the stores. This was before a case of the virus had been diagnosed in the state. These were proactive measures that the people enacted. It really made us feel safe, to be around people that understood the gravity of this situation.

“We Wear the Mask” –Paul Laurence Dunbar

Safest Place In Mexico

Merida has the undisputed reputation of being the safest place in Mexico to live. It has the lowest crime rate and high arrest rates. It is equipped with surveillance cameras and a police presence that is unmatched. With all of that activity, how did its reputation protect it from a deadly virus? Well it is my opinion that its reputation of being the safest city in all of Mexico helped shape some of the Yucatan Governor’s actions and policies. It being the safest place is one of its claims to fame and I don’t believe he wanted to diminish that reputation in any way.

 

We feel safe. As safe as anyone can feel at this moment in time. The world has changed and while it is changing Merida is a better place than many to be. The leadership here is strong and effective and the people are intelligent, informed and mutable. We like it here and so far this has been a good move.

 

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