Last week, the governments of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and European Union imposed border restrictions and issued calls for their citizens abroad to return home because of Covid-19. Jammed airports in Mexico attest to the fact that many have paid heed.
However, there are people from those and other countries that are hunkering down here in Mexico to wait out the storm. Being one of them, I got in touch with a number of friends and acquaintances in the foreign teacher and artist communities to see who is staying and why.
The majority are longtime, year-round residents with at least seven years in Mexico, some with several decades. Almost none of these residents even considered going to their countries of origin for several reasons.
Reason No. 1 is that they consider Mexico home. Some are quite emphatic about this. They have strong professional, familial and/or other personal ties here. On the flip side, these same people tend to have weak or even non-existent physical, economic or emotional support back “home.”
Marsha Ostroff in Mexico City and Eschwan Winding in San Miguel de Allende are representative of many retirees in Mexico whose pensions would not support them in the U.S. Nor would they have access to health care stateside, an issue of concern not just to “high-risk” seniors but younger expats as well.
Two other contacts with immunological issues have chosen to stay, though they are quarantining themselves for the foreseeable future.
Those living here more than 11 years also remember the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico, which gives some perspective.
In his blog, San Miguel de Allende resident Joseph Toone noted that many Canadians went back as soon as their government called for them to do so to have access to state health care. Airfares to Canada consequently doubled or even tripled.