Eureka, Humboldt County, California
Eureka, the largest town in rural Humboldt County, has a population of about 30,000. Compared to many parts of the U.S., it was not a bad place to endure the pandemic because of the natural beauty in the area. Although the nearby national and state parks were closed from time to time, the mountains, bays, rivers, and beaches remained easily accessible. Barry and I felt very fortunate that we were allowed to take trips in our campervan.
In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, supermarkets offered an exclusive “senior hour” where door monitors allowed shoppers over 60 to enter at socially distanced intervals. No one was allowed to bring their own bags (now we are).
For most of the year, the county remained at a very low level of infection risk, but as of November 30, it is now at the highest level California has: purple, or Tier 1, which indicates that the virus is widespread, with more than seven cases per 100,000 residents. Because the county is now in Tier 1, restaurants will be limited to outdoor and takeout services during the chilly, wet winter.
In Eureka, some people wear masks outside, but not all. Because it’s not a crowded town and it has wide sidewalks, I didn’t feel unsafe if I passed someone without a mask from a distance, and in fact didn’t always wear a mask, either, though I always had one handy and put it on whenever approaching someone. According to the Cleveland Clinic and many other health sources, masks are more important inside, when socializing outside your bubble.
Guanajuato City, Guanajuato, Mexico
Guanajuato, the capital of the state with the same name, is a densely populated city of 180,000, although it feels much smaller because it is so dense. The city is built in a steep, narrow valley, with the tightly wedged, crowded downtown area, el centro, at the bottom. Alleys, or callejones, where residents live, wind up the hills almost vertically from the town plaza, the Jardin de la Union. These pedestrian alleys are narrow but less crowded than the streets at the valley floor.
Mexico has a four-color COVID matrix ranging from green (reasonably safe) to yellow (limited activities permitted) to orange (staying home urged) to red (all but essential activities prohibited). In Guanajuato, the city jumped from yellow to orange not long after the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday, when Mexican tourists flocked to the city.
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