The Corona Chronicles, E4: Strangers Back in Paradise

We have entered my own household’s tenth day of semi-hard quarantine, and the new normal that was chafing my friends and family in our absence has become discomfiting. A lot discomfiting. Across the globe, the corona virus numbers remain daunting. As of this writing, 768,370 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed, with 36,912 deaths. Of these, 197,093 cases are closed; 160,181 (81%) patients have recovered or been discharged, meaning as of today, 19% of confirmed cases that have “resolved” are fatal. About one in five.

If you’re extra-freedom-loving, and insist on hitting the agora rather than distancing, think about this. A Colt, snub-nose detective special holds five rounds; put the muzzle to your temple, spin the barrel and pull the trigger. If you come down with the virus, and your case has “resolved,” your odds are the same.

In the grip of the mitten, MDHHS reports that 5,486 Covid-19 cases are confirmed, with 132 deaths. For perspective, Houghton County in Michigan boasts 36,190 residents, about the same number of fatalities worldwide; my Royal Oak Eagles hall runs about 700 members. If these stats were static, we would mourn losses and soon reopen for business. Sadly, the numbers on the scale double about every three days.

For a ray of technical sunshine, Johnson & Johnson and French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi are both working with the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop vaccines. Sanofi’s plan is to mix corona virus DNA with genetic material from a harmless virus, while Johnson & Johnson will attempt to deactivate SARS-CoV-2 and switch off its ability to cause illness. China continues to report a drastic reduction in new cases, largely achieved using extensive lock-down measures, and Formula 1 racing engineers at Mercedes have joined forces with University College London to develop a breathing device that can be used in lieu of taking patients to intensive care for immediate placement on a ventilator.

So, like a slightly sad rodeo clown, I will attempt to distract y’all in the face of a charging bull. Or something. Meaning to say, if you’ve just now noticed these bits aren’t all about Corona all the time, that’s the point.

Strangers Back in Paradise

When we last chatted about the holiday Valkie and I were lucky enough to return from recently, I had finally gotten us somewhere past the damn airport, and for that I apologize. I am somewhat easily distracted as of late.

After a rather uneventful flight and a smooth entry through Mexican customs, Valkie and I cabbed it to La Zona Romantica and our Hotel La Playa Los Arcos. Full stop; it is here that I offer a gratuitous travel tip or two. First . . . tip. Early and often. Don’t be “that guy” who believes because it’s all supposed to be included, you can barge into another culture like it’s someone’s home, wipe your muddy feet on the drapes in their front room, and expect white-glove service. Like Frank Sinatra says, just duke ‘em. Aside from the good personal/spiritual habits of kindness and decency, for those who are more transactional, there is a practical effect to leaving a generous “propina.” And that is consistently good service. The better it gets, the better it gets.

For more life advice from Sinatra, see here.

The other quick tip would be to follow your bags upstairs, be polite, duke the bellman, crank the air and for God’s sake, unpack your shit. Get your stuff organized into drawers and closets and bathrooms early, as this will mean when you return after your first bit of galivanting, sober or otherwise, you will be ready for dinner sooner than later. It also incidentally forces a more careful inspection of your digs, to see if you really wanna sleep there. Pull down the sheets, turn on the TV, check the fridge and HVAC, all the stuff you’d do if you were being dropped off on a space station, with no resupply for a good while.

Once upon a time, Valkie and I were checking into a questionable chain hotel in Newberry, Michigan, which my fellow shysters know to be a state prison town in the UP. It was late, we were beat, and although we both had serious concerns, Valkie tried to chill me out. Before heading to the ice machine, she handed me the TV clicker; I turned it over to find the batteries were held in with a band-aid. Needless to say, we checked out double-quick. I have another story about a beetle bigger than a regulation hardball, but I’ll save it.

So, back in Mexico, satisfied that we had chosen wisely in PV, and that the front desk agent had selected a good room for us as well, we headed out to reconnoiter our new beach community.

It’s Both: The Heat AND the Humidity

The locus of Puerto Vallarta is 20°37′01″ N, 105°13′48″ W, placing it exactly 1,426 miles north of the equator. While that might not seem too close to the hottest blue line on earth, Detroit is nearly 3,300 miles from the equator, or about halfway between PV and Santa Claus. What does all this navigation mean? It’s fucking hot.

In January, the average high is 80-degrees, with the low at 56. By Summer, the mercury is pinned at 90 for the high, with 100% humidity. The good news is, it rains all day, everyday throughout the Summer, and it’s cloudy; if the sun came out, I’m afraid the sand might melt. Even in March, it’s so hot and brilliantly sunny by mid-afternoon, the trees follow the dogs around begging for mercy, and the air is so thick that your first day on the ground, breathing it is a bit like eating a whole cheesecake. By yourself. |

This is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, the locals and staff are frequently wearing long pants and dresses; you’ve gotta respect that. When the Brinks trucks post up in front of banks for deliveries, the cops (locales or federales) are standing guard around it, all uniformed up, vested and holding fully automatic rifles at rest. What this also means is that any gringos wearing long pants in PV are either getting married that instant or they’re idiots. Even short-sleeve shirts on dudes are oppressive during the super-hot hours, so shorts, tanks and cover-ups are ubiquitous, as are folks just padding around in swimwear if they’re anywhere near the water.

Well now that we’re all hot and thirsty, this seems like a good time for a Motion to Adjourn, or moción para aplazar, until the next episode, which we might even call Mexican Fever. Again, any reader’s remembrances and comments are a welcome addition to these chronicles.

As an exercise in both discipline and diversion from public health, pure politics and the law, these Corona Chronicles will continue, God willing, and we hope you join us for the next installment.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.