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Mexico City: Toilet paper is gone

Living in Madrid since the beginning of the year, I had finally become acquainted with the city. A city too similar to my home town. I struggled with some cultural similitudes and some attitude discrepancies.

Not too many days ago, I realised I was at risk. Not being the common youngster, healthy, strong; I was at risk. The virus was spreading.

I had just notified everyone around me that I was going to Mexico City, that I couldn’t risk it. I bought my flight, I started packing and all of a sudden Madrid went into chaos. Universities, offices, schools and gyms shut down. Nevertheless, people used this opportunity to go to parks, use public spaces, let their children play in the metal playground as the adults had a glass of wine, beer or coffee. Stupid.

I said goodbye to my close friends, they seemed fine. They decided to stay. I get it, there is always a morbid part of us that wants to see the world burn, that wants to be in the middle of it all. But also, knowing you are healthy stops you from making smart decisions. Really scared of 12 hours of flight, I got a mask, antibacterial gel, etcetera etcetera. At the airport, no one was taking care of. I received messages from my friends back home telling me they were going to receive me at the airport. I didn’t know if it was my hysteria or if I was actually being rational when I asked them to stay home. When I asked my parents to come in different cars to pick me up and my pregnant sister who was just about to arrive from Florida.

Being in voluntary quarantine for the sake of taking care of myself and of others has been so hard when no one around you takes it seriously. „You have nothing, common“, „let me hug you, I missed you!“, „come have dinner with us“, I hear this every day, I jump up every time someone wants to come near me in my room. In their eyes, I am crazy, I am overreacting. In the eyes of my European friends, I could do more. In my eyes, I feel useless.

Photo by City Clock Magazine

Mexico City, the city I love, the city I haven’t seen even though I am here. Some measures have been taken, universities shut down, the home office became a thing. But a weird and sad turn of events happens. People are really happy that the Easter holidays got extended, they go to restaurants, parties, bars and clubs. They want to go to the movies, meet in public spaces, and so on.

The city that I love, 23 million people in a couple of square kilometres. The city that is in a valley, the perfect incubator. A city that receives some more millions every day, who by dawn will go back to their home towns in the neighbouring regions. A city that is taking this as a party.

I must say, we Mexicans tend to think we are invincible, we are immortals. We’ve lived starvation, we lived colonisation, we lived religious wars, drug wars, civil wars, gender wars, political wars, we’ve survived them all. Coronavirus won't kill us.

Funny to see how people are taking it so lightly in their speech, in their everyday routine. Yet toilet paper is sold out.

Luisa Alcocer is a Mexican student of Urban Studies, until recently resident in Madrid.

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