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Normally at this time of year–the low season for tourism in Oaxaca–120 tourists visit the Zapotec ruins at Mitla every day.

These days–since swine flu hit–on a good day, twelve people show up. On a bad day, the guides and ticket takers wait out their shifts without seeing a single tourist. At the nearby artisans’ market, it’s the same story.

Many vendors haven’t even bothered to open their stands lately. Those who do can hope for one or two sales on a good day–for a total of around ten dollars.

This woman and her husband both have clothing stands in the market near the ruins. Other members of their family cut and stitch and embroider the blouses and shirts. The daily earnings from the stands are divided among several people. These days, each person’s cut is enough to keep tortillas on the table, not much else.

Fortunately families here look out for each other, even in hard times. Whoever has a little more spreads it around. But this can’t go on forever.

Mitla’s economy is almost entirely dependent on tourism. Which means that right now, nearly its entire economy is at a standstill.

The few–and mostly national–tourists who do arrive have the ruins to themselves, and get rock bottom prices on clothing and crafts. They are much appreciated.

Everyone here is hoping that by July, for the high season of the Guelaguetza festival, swine flu panic will die down and things will pick up.

Until then, it’s tortillas and beans for dinner.



About The Author

Teresa Ponikvar

Teresa Ponikvar is a former Matador editor, a current reluctant English teacher, and a future mini-farmer. She lives in rural Oaxaca, Mexico, with her husband, young son, and assorted animals and arthropods. She blogs here.

  • joshywashington

    This must be an excellent time to go and take advantage of the quiet spaces and low prices…swine flu, I’m sorry i just don’t buy it. oink oink!

    • Teresa

      Definitely–if you want the place to yourself, it’s the time to come.

  • Anna

    Thanks for bringing attention to the economic situation of Oaxaca’s artisans.

  • Acne Treatments Site

    the H1N1 or Swine Flu Virus is very scary at first but now it is well controlled by vaccines and prevention by avoiding going into places with incidence of swine flu.

  • depressionboy

    | H1N1 or Swine Flu is a bit scary but it a good thing to note that this virus is not that very deadly

  • Michelle Reyes

    One of my sisters got infected with H1N1 or more commonly known as Swine Flu. Fortunately, she did not have very high fever and she was able to recover fast .

  • JunLee Arandia

    My brother got infected with H1N1 or Swine Flu in Mexico. He got a mild fever and luckily he did not die.

  • | Acne Treatments Asia

    If you look at the pandemic of 1977, when H1N1 or Swine Flu re-emerged after a 20 year absence, there is no shift in age-related mortality pattern. The 1977 “pandemic” is, of course, not considered a true pandemic by experts today, for reasons that are not entierely consistent. It certainly was an antigenic shift and not an antigenic drift. As far as I have been able to follow the current events, the most significant factor seems to have been that most people, who were severely affected, were people with other medical conditions.

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