My Week: Jorge Silva, hotelier in Mexico City
As the number of swine flu cases rises, a hotelier in Mexico City describes how he and his guests have been coping in this rapidly emptying capital
Saturday 02 May 2009
I wake up, have some coffee and go to the office in my small hotel that I run in Colonia Condesa in Mexico City. I receive a lot of emails with concerns about the swine flu and people cancelling their trips. I tell them that I understand the situation and we are happy to refund their deposits.
We have about 25 guests staying. As all the restaurants are closed, including ours, we allow the guests to bring back food from the supermarket and cook the food in our restaurant's kitchen. We try to make all the guests feel welcome and comfortable. We play music and games and we all have a drink. Some of the guests put on masks when they leave the hotel but we're certainly not wearing them here. A lot of our guests' flights are being cancelled.
I go to the market and buy all the flowers, fruit and meat for the house. The city is a lot quieter: there's less traffic, fewer people on the streets. My friends come over after work and we order pizza, open a bottle of wine and all chat and entertain the guests. We talk about the flu virus; it's affected everyone's lives but everyone is very cool about it. No one feels in danger. Despite living in Mexico City I don't know anyone who has actually got the flu, so I don't feel worried about it.
I serve breakfast to all the guests. I haven't changed my routine. The only thing is every day we get less and less busy. I'm a bit worried about business. Last week we were in the process of hiring a manager, but I wondered if I should wait. I hire him anyway; it's a good time to reorganise the hotel and it's so quiet he can learn how to run the place. We will be ready to go when people come back to Mexico. As everything is closed, people are spending more time at the hotel so we have to entertain our guests. The precautions the government has taken is creating a little paranoia. Of course the government would rather do too much than too little, but sometimes I feel that closing the museums and restaurants is definitely scaring people. The tourists are disappointed too.
We only have three guests left now. I have to tell the cleaning lady that as we're getting so few customers she should take some time off and see what happens. We cook a pasta dinner for the final guests and we have some wine and a chat.
I wake up early and watch the news to see what's going on but it's pretty much the same. My last three guests leave today. The new manager is starting so I show him the ropes. We think we might throw a party tomorrow night as the place will be empty. Besides, there's nowhere to go – everything's been closed down. I think it will take a couple of months to get tourists coming back to Mexico. But I'm not worried about the situation; it will all be over soon.
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