While Mexico is working hard to prevent the pandemic from hitting the country, I struggle in my own little world with isolation, disappointing business results for weeks and questions from readers. And two questions keep reappearing. Wouldn’t you be rather in the Netherlands right now, and Are you going back home?
Daily life has changed in Mexico
Daily life is weird at the moment, living in Playa del Carmen a tourist hotspot that is totally deserted, and with most shops and restaurants and all hotels closed it is like a ghost town. Not the part where the locals live and shop. But everything close to and beyond 5th Avenue, even the beach, is spooky. A few sole survivors still have their shops open, but there is no one and they all jump at you when you walk by.
Beaches are closed and forbidden and we are constantly urged to stay home. Susana Distancia, the comic figure that tells us how to behave is working her ass off. And it is downright scary to see the figures rising and the double standards of the implemented rules.
I mean, I get e thermometer on my forehead when entering the shop, but a mum, with 4 snotty kids does not and does not even get hand gel, while the kids are all over the place, touching everything?? It freaks me out.
When I go for a walk I walk away from the public, and I prefer to stay at home since I seem to be one of the few that does keep a safe distance and obeys all the rules for hygiene. You really have to look out for yourself these days more so than ever
The attitude towards tourists (I am a resident, but nonetheless, I am white so I am a tourist to the small-minded folks in this city) is changing as well. IF there was friendliness, it is gone. They look at me with an arrogance that tells me I might not be so welcome anymore, yet I do stimulate their feeble economy and help rebuild their country by spending my money here. But small-minded people…..
Streets are swamped with army and police armed up to their teeth, and armored army trucks patrol the streets at night to prevent looters and crime. Power in the streets is shifting yet once again as cartels use this time to establish a new territory for future investment.
It is not very violent, but crime is on the rise.
Being a person of common sense, I have decided to be in the house before the sun sets, and only go out at daylight time.
These signals reach friends and followers all over the world through my Twitter and Facebook updates and people are getting worried about my safety. And that is where the questions come from.
Would I rather be in the Netherlands right now?
No. I have nothing left in the Netherlands. And returning to the Netherlands, after emigration, is hard already in normal times, now it will be even harder. I need to find a house, I need to register and I have not enough money to pay all the bills, life in the Netherlands is extremely expensive. And me being out of the country for over 5 years does not qualify me for any social benefits or urgency in housing. Long story short: I will be homeless, roaming the streets waiting for a house. Since I cannot afford to rent in the private sector.
I do not long for “home” there is no home to return to, I am happy right here and now.
Does the Coronavirus make me go home?
No, it doesn’t. Although I have seen fresh new emigrants return home. And I have seen digital nomads returning home as well.
I guess it depends on how you categorize yourself. If you travel as a tourist on a tourist visa, as many digital nomads do or how many emigrants start out, you might have returned home. You will run out of visas, or you will risk high health bills when you do get sick.
And with paperwork not finalized yet, you might be better off back home with family and friends.
Canadian winter bords were told to go home because the health insurance was no longer covering health costs made abroad.
Friends of mine living in Spain have not finished their Emigration and registered yet and have to find exceptional rules to be able to rent a house without an NIE number. They have to continue renting an expensive tourist house instead of moving to a more affordable rural house.
Friends in the Philippines on a tourist visa had to extend their stay beyond plans and now have to get exit clearance and an ACR-i Card because they stay longer, more unexpected costs, they are in lockdown.
A stuck digital nomad friend is losing his right on his multiple entry visa for Thailand since he was out of the country not being able to return any time soon
And some people I know have run out of Schengen visa, due to travel bans. They cannot return to the Schengen zone and consume the rest of their visa time
Others have their Esta revoked due to American rules and had to divert their plans and have unused tickets.
Most of the above people wanted to go home or are planning on going home any time soon. The extra costs simply were not included in their (travel) budget, business is slow and income decreased. And all of them are wondering every day how the government will interpret their status. Can I stay or do I have to leave, and if so, where do I go?
As for me, I can’t travel, I need special permission to leave the country since I am still in the process of my temporary resident permit. If I want to leave Mexico, I lose my status. I need a letter allowing me to leave the country and I will lose my resident status completely. I will never be able to return within the set period of time granted with the exceptional leave.
So that moves me backward in more than one way.
Does the government want me to go home?
The Dutch government has made it clear from day one that Dutch people traveling in Mexico should return asap. Flight arrangements were made for those that were here on vacation. For residents, they simply advised that we should obey the Mexican law and follow Mexican information and stay put. Like I said: The Netherlands is not eager to take in re-emigrants with Dutch nationality. So those emigrants that wanted to go home had to make their own arrangements to fly back to the Netherlands, the Embassy did not offer any help.
The Mexican government is ending holiday stay for foreigners. Many locations have reported to terminate hotel stays and send people home. Due to hotel closure and a halt on all tourist activities in the regions.
The Mexican government also made it clear that residents were not included in those eviction notices. Every foreigner in Mexico on a resident permit is considered Mexican. And should follow state guidelines for health safety and hygiene.
My sentiments on the subject
I think when you are planning an emigration, you plan a happy future for yourself. The plans seldom include thinking about disasters and set back. But I think you should include some disaster scenarios in your emigration plans. It will be life as normal once you have settled into your new lifestyle, including setbacks,
So when you are planning to move abroad, take some time to picture you living in a disaster, or under martial law, or increasing crime, or very 2020: living in a pandemic time.
Away from family and friends, in a foreign country, how will you cope with this? Can you cope with it? And do you have enough financial backup to survive? To rebuild a house if necessary or a business?