In addition to Buildings of Historical Note (of which there are a ridiculous quantity), there are scores of museums, both famous and obscure. But for your average resident, it's primarily a shopping district. You can buy everything from Italian shoes to cheap luggage to baby jesuses.
Thousands of people live here, maybe tens of thousands, but it's not considered a residential area and it tends to empty out at night and on Sundays. We keep thinking that it might empty out on weekdays too, if people start taking this seriously en masse. We imagined that we'd be able to take walks, at least. But that hasn't happened yet.
Yesterday we went out to get fresh vegetables and fruit and Vitamin D pills (and soda water, of course!). After four full days indoors, I was feeling woozy and sluggish. I almost thought I was sick, but I took my temperature, which was fine, and decided it was either my usual borderline hypochondria or my body was reacting to being deprived of natural light for 100 hours.
I expected that going outside would be exciting. I expected my senses to be heightened, like when I watched the sun set. I expected to marvel at the colors, the light, the bizarre details that have always made this area so fascinating. Instead, I just felt anxiety so intense it made me nauseated.
Here's the thing... Personal space is not really a thing in Mexico. You throw down a beach towel and the next group of people is going to set up right next to you, not as far away as possible, like they would in the US. And this can be a great thing about this country. It can also be annoying if you're not in the mood for a boombox blasting banda in your face while someone insists that you drink a warm Modelo and eat ceviche while their children crawl all over you, but, as someone with shy and antisocial tendencies, it's usually great for me to spent time around people who are more in-your-face, who want to know about you, strangers who say good morning, women who kiss your cheeks. Social distancing is the antithesis of Mexico.
Which makes this trickier...
I tend toward claustrophobia in crowds, and stepping out onto the sidewalk felt like a bad idea. We thought the street looked slightly less crowded than usual, but it was still choked with vendors, and it was impossible to stay six feet away from other people, especially since very few other pedestrians seemed to be trying.
I felt like I was in a very difficult video game. Your objective is to stay as far away from people as possible, but coughing people keep popping up right in your path.
Passing my favorite taqueria was pretty harsh, and then going into the market made me feel like I was walking into a warren of pestilence. I started to feel like I couldn't breathe, and my heart was racing.
So....not a great first foray into the great outdoors. After we returned to the sanctuary of the apartment, I felt like never going out again. Which scared me. Because staying inside hasn't been so bad. In fact, it's seemed a little too easy at times. For the first time in my life, I don't have to feel guilty for staying in and watching TV on a Friday night. I don't have to feel guilty for not taking a walk. I don't have to feel guilty for hiding away from the world.
So this morning we made ourselves get up early enough to take a run.
The neighborhood really is virtually empty on Sunday mornings, so it was much less freaky. We ran over to the Alameda, where the jacaranda trees are in bloom. On the way back, we sat in a little square and watched people walking their dogs. And, for a second, life almost seemed normal. I felt that I was in the Centro Historico, a place I dearly love, instead of in some surreal limbo.
What are your experiences with leaving your house or apartment? How does it make you feel? Any thoughts on the long-term effects of social distancing, being holed up, etc.?