Last week I got to spend a day in Cabo illustrating @xogravedigger’s story for @latimes: “Think you know where California is? Think again, says a Mexican activist”. The story is about identity, specifically that of Baja California Sur’s: a place full of people who aren’t originally from there. Be it the folks in Cabo on vacation for a week or the people who came from Guerrero 20 years ago. Cuauhtemoc Morgan Hernandez, the activist pushing the name change, and Gabriel Fonseca Verdugo, a documentary filmmaker, patiently stood for (many) portraits and showed me around the amazing zocalo in San Jose del Cabo. “It’s not that we don’t want all these people here,” said Morgan. “We just want to make sure our identity isn’t being erased in the process.” #bcs #bajacaliforniasur
We’ve started using separate bathrooms. It’s a weird detail, but it’s a clear sign to me that something has changed because every morning I see my toothbrush alone. He’s doing it to protect me. Every day, he walks the dog through the still-crowded streets of our neighborhood (6 ft of distance between passerby’s is still nearly impossible) and then comes home, strips out of his clothes in our doorway, and runs straight to the shower. I’m grateful and, admittedly, a tiny bit jealous. I miss walking the dog, listening to podcasts and stopping in Oxxo for a snack. But it is different now, it wouldn’t be my relaxing walk anymore. I know that. I get my fresh air up on our roof. I peer over the edge to the jungle of trees and bushes below, obscuring our neighbor’s yard. I’m grateful for the space, grateful to have things to look at. I watch the kids ride bikes in circles on the roof of a far off building. The days feel like they should be dragging, but they pass faster than I could’ve imagined. I blink and it is night. Tomorrow we’ll do the same things over again—our new little rituals. ———————————————- @wpthejournal is a global effort by hundreds of photographers from all over the world to document their own experiences living through the pandemic. Give the account a follow to see heartfelt, beautiful imagery from all over the globe.Thank you to @womenphotograph, @_charlotteschmitz_, @hanloveyoon and group 5 💜 #wpthejournal #covid19 #quarantinediaries #lettersfromquarantine #whatishomeproject
Today, @zolanky’s story about vulnerable populations of people who are supposed to be exempt from MPP was published in @nytimes. Zolan and I spent some time in Matamoros and Reynosa last week, meeting asylum seekers who are medically vulnerable who are still being forced to wait in Mexico through their asylum proceedings in the US. According to the MPP guiding principles, people who have “known physical/mental health issues” are “not amenable to MPP.” We accompanied 3 mothers and their special needs children as lawyer Charlene D’Cruz presented the families to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pointing out that these children (who are living in the tent camp in Matamoros) never should have been put in to MPP to begin with and requested that they be taken out of the program. One child has a seizure disorder, one has lissencephaly (also known as “smooth brain”), and one is autistic. According to physicians, living in the tent camp is detrimental to their health and well-being. CBP turned the families back anyway. I also met Heidy, who you’ll see getting an eye exam in these images. She was struck in the face by the branch of a thorny tree, and her eye was badly wounded when she was apprehended by CBP. She was sent back to Mexico and received medical attention from the @global.response team working out of a trailer in the Matamoros camp. She and her 4 year old daughter are also part of MPP. To the best of my knowledge, everyone pictured is still in the tent camp in Matamoros, a city in the state of Tamaulipas. Tamaulipas has a level 4 warning from the US State Department, the website reading “Do Not Travel. Do not travel due to crime and kidnapping.” Thank you to @marisaschwartztaylor for thinking of me for this job. Everyone should go read Zolan’s story: “‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy Overlooks Health Issues, Lawyers and Migrants Say” #nytassignment #remaininmexico #migrantprotectionprotocols
Learning to box on the roof. @dominicbracco, the ever-patient teacher, wraps my hands and ties me in to gloves. I feel slow and weak and frustrated by the sun in my eyes. I get distracted watching the light change or our neighbors through their windows or the birds stopping by looking for the birdseed Dom leaves out for them each day. Somehow he continues to agree to teach me anyway. #quarantinelife #wpthejournal #lettersfromquarantine #covid19 #quarantinediaries #whatishomeproject
Four years ago today, we were driving home from Puerto Escondido with a patchy haired puppy whose ears were too big for her head. I am so glad the mean little pup we found in the middle of the highway joined our family. Her farts could kill a horse, almost everyone we know is (rightly) a little bit afraid of her, she hates children and cuddling and cats. She is more emotional than most people I know. I wouldn’t trade her for anything on this earth. Today she got to see her pals and eat a hamburger, which especially this year feels like a day worth celebrating.
I was, I am, wholly unprepared to accept that the physical world is no longer inhabited by my Rosy Masi. That I hadn’t seen her in a decade, that I just figured we had a next time coming up. She was fiercely...everything. Fiercely kind, fiercely loving, fiercely protective, fiercely smart. When she held you it was a full body commitment, when she laughed at a joke you made it felt like you had won some secret prize. She is the main character in some of my most important childhood memories, she helped shape the adult I am today with her kindness and huge heart. She was such a caregiver (but never in a solemn way), she was always making sure everyone was comfortable, good, heard, fed. I had daydreamed that she would adventure around with @dominicbracco and I when we finally made that trip to India. Our elders tie us to our history, to our roots. It is uprooting to lose someone so beloved so suddenly. Our family will forever cherish her spirit and memory. And please...stay home when you can and wear a mask when you can’t. If not for you, to protect another family from this kind of loss.
A few weeks ago, I spent the morning at military hospital set up to treat covid patients here in Mexico City. I was following around Dr. Franyuti—a specialist in TB (and biosecurity) who is now spending his days working with covid patients. Dr. Franyuti appears in the @nytimes story “‘The Biggest Monster’ Is Spreading. And It’s Not the Coronavirus.” As the pandemic rages on across the world, other infectious diseases are making a comeback. From Apoorva Mandavilli’s story: “It’s not just that the coronavirus has diverted scientific attention from TB, HIV and malaria. The lockdowns, particularly across parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, have raised insurmountable barriers to patients who must travel to obtain diagnoses or drugs, according to interviews with more than two dozen public health officials, doctors and patients worldwide. Fear of the coronavirus and the shuttering of clínics have kept away many patients struggling with HIV, TB and malaria, while restrictions on air and sea travel have severely limited delivery of medications to the hardest hit regions.”
Got to spend two days last month boppin around the Televisa campus and meeting some telenovela fans for the story “Less Sex, More Viewers: Pandemic Boosts Mexico’s Flagging Telenovelas” by the dope @nataliesunite for @nytimes. From her story: “Ratings for the shows have soared in recent months, reviving a genre that shaped generations of Mexicans and became one of the nation’s most important cultural exports. The onset of the global economic downturn has made such programming more attractive by default. Telenovelas air on broadcast channels, making them more accessible than Netflix or premium channels for the average Mexican family. But their draw also comes from a specific brand of uncomplicated storytelling that eases the boredom of life in quarantine while calming fears and delivering the emotional intimacy that daily interactions have lost to the virus.” Go find the full story in @nytimes.
Pablo and Susana have a few things in common: they’re both nurses, they are both frontline workers in the pandemic, they both got covid working to save the lives of patients, and they’re both featured (among so many other stories) in the @nytimes project “In Harm’s Way,” which is currently spotlighting healthcare workers in Latin America. I met Pablo after he had recovered from covid, and Susana before she got the virus. I caught both of them just before they were starting their shifts at the public hospitals where they work. Both hospitals had signs hanging out front that said they were at capacity for covid patients. Seven of Pablo’s coworkers died of covid. Susana watched as beds filled up in her hospital while just outside people were claiming the virus wasn’t real. #quedateencasa
Our most overused story of Nanima (the word “Nanima” is usually reserved for a maternal grandmother but this is what we called my grandma’s sister), is about how she used her shoe as a weapon. One of my first memories of her is watching her push her way through the hordes of people at the Delhi airport in...1999? 2000? @kiran07076 will know. She was elderly even then and took zero shit from anyone. She was tougher than nails and I don’t think it is exaggerating to say more than a few of us were a little afraid of her. Not truly fearful, and never obscuring our love for her, but always knowing she could and might whip you with her shoe. She lived a life full of adventure and service to others. She ran the Harmit Trust in Delhi, a senior citizens home, as a senior citizen herself. I just googled her and found a quote I love. In an article from the Times of India, she is quoted as saying: “I am 21. I will remain so forever. I am a positive person and try to inspire others.” She flew from India for both my and Madie’s college graduations. She was tenacious as hell. The last time I saw her was in India in 2016, where she was in and out of lucidity. I wrote down one thing she said to me, which was: “You have no end. Go and enjoy whatever time God will give you.” She died yesterday at the age of 97. @dominicbracco and i were reminiscing about her this morning and he said something about “the legend of Nanima,” which made me laugh. She’s gone, but the legend of Nanima lives on.
Always grateful to contribute, even in the tiniest of ways, to a story of this importance. @nataliesunite and @paminitas reported on Mexico’s struggling hospitals and the healthcare workers facing endless obstacles on the front lines, published today in @nytimes. I had the chance to meet a handful of these doctors and nurses and make their portraits. I watched Ivette buy her own PPE when she got off her shift and Berenice steel herself before entering her hospital, which is 100% COVID patients. From the story: “Now, the pandemic is making matters much worse, sickening more than 11,000 Mexican health workers — one of the highest rates in the world — and depleting the already thin ranks in hospitals. Some hospitals have lost half their staff to illness and absenteeism. Others are running low on basic equipment, like heart monitors.” Go read Natalie and Pau’s piece: “‘It’s Not the Virus’: Mexico’s Broken Hospitals Become the Killers, Too”. Thank you, as always, to @craigdallen for the assignment.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I live in Mexico City anymore, I just live in our apartment. Our own little sovereign nation of dirty dishes and quarantine projects and YouTube yoga. But when the rains come, I feel rooted to my place in this city—I remember my first rainy season here, much of it spent alone while @dominicbracco was off working. How lost I felt sitting on our futon as thunder rattled the windowpanes of an apartment that still felt alien. My inappropriate footwear soaked completely through as I wedged myself in to a metro car at rush hour. With each rainy season I realize how much I’ve changed, how much my life here has changed, how much the city has changed and in this moment especially, how much the world has changed. Grateful for the rains and the reminders they bring. #quarantinelife #lavidarona #wpthejournal #cdmx #df
Views from a bike ride last weekend. The EMT pictured, Jonatan, was sitting in the back of his vehicle when I almost smashed in to it on my bike. We laughed, he asked about the camera, we talked a little, I asked about the virus. He said his whole family is terrified for him and he’s scared too, because “working in a city where not everyone believes this is real is scary. Let me tell you, it’s real.” I took these photos before the city entered phase 3, which officially happened a few days ago #cdmx #df #covid19 #cabronavirus
Haven’t left my house much in the last month, but visiting our market to check in with the folks that work there more than warranted a trip out. Incredibly grateful to everyone who talked to me—especially because many of them are the same people who keep me and @dominicbracco fed. And incredibly grateful to @elopezgross for working with me on this little story for @postopinions—I’ve never been comfortable writing and I’m glad to have had friendly eyes editing. If you’re interested, go hunt down the piece (“‘Until we are shut down, we are here’” in Washington Post’s global opinion section ) to hear about the economic concerns of folks who make up part of Mexico’s informal economy. Since I shot the piece, they’ve started limiting how many people go in to the market at a given time, which I’m grateful for from a public health perspective but know that it isn’t helping anyone economically. If you’re here in DF, make sure you’re supporting your local folks. As so many of us are painfully aware, staying home is a privilege not everyone is afforded.
I work from home when I’m not traveling, so does @dominicbracco. Figured we’d have our quarantine routines figured out easily, but time has become a whole different beast when we aren’t judging by “time at home” vs “time on the road.” When I don’t have the metric of when I have to be at the airport next or when my next job is, hours and schedules and days of the week and routines run together like little rain drops rollin down the window of a moving car. I find myself lethargic all day and then bursts of energy in the middle of the night. Sometimes Dom is waking up at 6 as I’m crawling in to bed. My usually-organized whiteboard is...not. And that’s just gonna be that, for now. #quarantinediaries #wpthejournal #covid19 #lettersfromquarantine #whatishomeproject