Thursday, April 30, 2009


April 30th

Most of the time on this blog, I am posting a couple of months out of date, desperately trying to catch up....

However, recent events have brought me crashing in to the present....


Disasters do seem to follow me around (like the volcano erupting in Chile). We were about 80 miles outside of Mexico City (MC) in Taxco and planning to head there the very next day when news of the Swine flu hit a week ago. Luckily we had an internet connection and had seen the news, otherwise empty streets and seeing people suddenly wearing surgical masks would have freaked us out. News that schools and government buildings were closing in the capital demanded a rethink of the route. 

Unfortunately, we were getting in to that spiders web road system that forms round all huge cities where all roads form spokes to the central hub - narrowing our options. Cycling round Mexico City would take time and retreat back to the coast was not a good option. So we broke our self imposed rule to cycle everywhere and took a bus to Puebla about 100 miles to the East of MC. It just seemed prudent to 
1 - Get slightly further away in the direction of less cases of flu.
2 - Still be in a city should we need to get further away still.
3 - Be on the right side of Mexico City should we carry on cycling.
Currently the number of fatalities in MC is 168 with around 2000 hospitalised depending on what source you choose.

All "non essential" government services have closed down including all tourist services. Peru and Argentina amongst others have suspended Mexico flights, with France calling for other countries to follow suit. Options are narrowing and Sue and I are currently debating what next? The WHO is stating that there is no need to close borders.... but then if the UK simply refuses entry of Mexican flights to it's airports???? 

Life in Puebla seems to be carrying on fairly normally except for the face masks and museum closures. Schools are closed, and families have been asked to remain indoors, but a walk around the city centre shows that many people are taking the opportunity to spend time socialising with family and friends, streets are busy and businesses remain open. People here seem to be taking a wider perspective and it's a pretty tranquil place.

There's doesn't seem to be any reason to be overly concerned at the moment, and Mexicans seem to be taking this in their stride. However, from a totally selfish perspective, the closure of everything that is good is gonna put a serious crimp on the tour....

The WHO meets in Luxembourg today and we're awaiting their report before making any kind of a decision.... 


Tom said...

Hi Martin,

Your cycling trip sounds mind blowing. My girlfriend and I are cycling from Mexico down through CA into Panama then back up the Pacific coast. Do you have any advise for us because a lot of family back in England are advising us not to go because of the dangers.

We feel that cycling CA will be amazing and risk free as long as we are sensible on our travels.

Anyway how your having a great time and I look forward to reading more.


Sween in SAmerica said...

Hi Tom

Thanks for the comments - good to hear from anyone reading the blog.

Family and friends will always be concerned - it's their job and mine were no different before I set out. Some of the fear is justified, but you should never let it put you off. Having said that, most of your "information" will come from the media and they are never slow to hype up the risks and problems abroad. Swine flu was a classic case in point that was far more scary in the media than on the ground, and I was 50 miles from the "epicentre".

You are right when you say you need to be sensible when traveling. Carry the right equipment, medical supplies, spares for the bike and research local customs to avoid offense which can make you a target. Learn some Spanish - it really helps as do big smiles and endless patience.

There is loads of advice I can give you, but maybe a comment is not the place. If you want to email with specifics I'll try and help you out where I can...

The main thing is to just take the plunge and find out for yourselves.....

Feliz viaje

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