David Lida, who lives in Mexico City and has a new book First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, The Capital of the 21st Century, is my traveler of the week, not necessarily for “traveling” but going about his adopted home when the rest of the world seemed to cower in fear, killing a country full of pigs, canceling Cancun flights and rerouting cruises from Acapulco stops to Santa Barbara.
While all this was happening, I just wanted to know what it was like for locals — not at the clinics, but on central streets, for commuters, and beer drinkers. I wasn’t asking for machismo reports — going recklessly into harm’s way for show — but wanted to hear a bit more than “the country of 11 million is in lockdown.”
In a New York Times op-ed Friday, Lida wrote that “despite reports that Mexico City had turned into a ghost town, by Thursday there were still a lot of people in the street,” just they looked a little different:
“On the streets of the city’s historic center, nearly everyone wore a surgical mask. Some moved them to the sides of their faces while they puffed on cigarettes.”
When he couldn’t find flu medicine at pharmacies, he went to a dodgy cantina:
“The waitresses, short and squat, encased in tight skirts and suffocating beige hose, circulated among the customers. The woman who served me a drink lowered her mask to flash me a crooked-toothed smile. Customers laughed, argued, played dominoes and lowered their masks to drink or eat.”
The next day it was closed.
I might pick up Lida’s new book. But I might not. It would certainly take some effort after seeing his regrettable choice of an author photo.
Meanwhile, nice op-ed.