“Send the governess to warmer climes and rid her of
this heavy pestilance”, one would say.
I feel like a tightly bound Elizabethan governess in an oppressively thick smock, that has just been let out of a cage and sent to a summary escape in Spain to strip off my garters and lie in a field of sunflowers.
I´m sitting in full sun next to a pool, one and half hours south of Mexico City, 10 days into this Swine Flu outbreak. Aaah.
Let´s just say that Mexico City knows how to do a crisis. It puts on a good drama:
Act I Scene I is the week-long water cut during Easter which sees millions of people without running water and steeped in desperate conditions.
Act I Scene II introduces the villian: a naughty and unknown bug is suddenly in newspapers. No one thinks much of it, and continues along as normal until,
Act I Scene III arrives with a national broadcast announcement cancelling all classes the next day ( at the timely hour of 11pm the eve before, in a population where no one rests....)
Act II and things get more sinister, and more confused. As the chracters of the play try to diffuse their worry over a laughter-filled weekend, Act II Scene II arrives with a clambering reprisal for their folly and a 5.7 richter scale earthquake.
Act II Scene II is the crux of the drama: the protagonist´s colleague comes down with a high fever and her body starts rejecting every substance that goes into it. The medication prescribed is doubted by the lead character. She sends word to her father in a far flung land who responds with common sense and sound antipodean medical advice. Missives from her beloved father come flooding through, remedies and counsels to confront the epidemic.
However, the situation does not improve.
Act II Scene III is a frantic dash for rescue by all the main characters. The colleague´s symptoms are increasingly dire and her alarmed family calls for her to flee to Connecticut, with haste. The protagonist frets by the side of her dear friend Juan next to a Human Rights Watch press conference as she communicates with her colleague´s escort on route to the airport. Two kind Jesuit priests carry the colleague to safe transport, and within a few hours she is in Texas. She is isolated like a leper, locked away for 14 hours with medicine. The characters pray through the evening and try to send her healing light from the other side of the border (the condemned side).
Act III Scene I presents a jubilant face. The colleague has miraculously recovered, and appears to not have been smited with the notorious ill, but rather some other ailment that is less contagious. The characters rejoice with relief, and the protagonist reflects on how much she loves her friend and dear colleague. She bathes in a glow of humanity and gives thanks for good fortune.
While there is a cooling hush over the scale of the emergency however, the plot thickens.
Act III Scene II presents the laughing fool in the face of the drama: Mariachis uncharacteristically appear in the street below the protagonists´s house with full trumpets in the dark of the early morning, as if to cackle to the hopeless humanity of the continuing epidemic. The protagonist loses sleep and wonders at the surreal beast of a city that can allow for such carnavale in the midst of melancholy.
Act III Scene III provides a pause. The protagonist takes respite with her two best friends and recovers after the shocks of the times.
The populous of men and other characters lick their wounds and try and gather for any coming storms. Trouble brews in the west: folk of Acapulco threaten to throw stones [literally] at metropolitan residents who come to holiday for the weekend.
I don´t know how many acts this drama will entail. Will this be like Henry VIII or will it be a less tortured drama? All I know is, I am taking gallons of human learning and trying to grasp the real and the poignant in all of this.