Friday, March 13, 2020


It's velación time in Jocotes tonight. I wonder how many still intend on showing up. 

Yesterday around lunchtime the Parque Central was looking markedly pretty, yet depleted. 

Things are thinning out, perhaps faster than I had anticipated. San Martín was still fairly packed, though I imagine its main customer base is still intact and out there. 

For a Thursday the market was extremely quiet too. 

My friend Gary has written about his money worries: he thinks he might be inadvertently killing wrinklies via the medium of hard currency. 

The older generation does perhaps retain a preference for cash over credit and another friend of mine reported yesterday that in his home town in Ohio, somewhat counter-intuitively, the majority of people that are still out on the streets are over 60. 

Common-sense would seem to dictate that one limits the quantity of cash transactions one engages in. Here in Antigua that surely means, amongst other things, eschewing the market, where bank-notes are often handled in a notably insalubrious manner. 

Yet I am already conflicted about this, as even before the COVID-19 pandemic I was attempting to favour small, locally-run businesses over corporates and ex-twat run operations, and I'm loathe to switch my preferences now. 

Guatemalans have certain cultural obstacles to overcome. Firstly they are going to need to understand that this outbreak is less about personal risk than social responsibility. 

And secondly, they are going to have to stop doing everything in moloteras. Most simple expeditions (to the airport, to the shops, to the hospital, to the scene of an accident and so on) accrue a load of unnecessary hangers-on. These mores could prove costly if not conquered. 

I've made a rough calculation that between a third and a half of UK families will see an older relative severely sicken or die. Here in Guatemala, owing to cultural factors somewhat akin to those prevailing in Italy, the pattern could be steeper and even more severe. 

I can, off the top of my head, think of a number of multi-generational households in our close circle of family and friends. I do believe it may well take the impact of painful losses (and the accompanying sense of guilt) to properly change fundamental attitudes and behaviours. 

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