Some Residents Flee As Mexico City Shuts Down

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More than 33 million Mexican students are headed into another week with no school because of the national shutdown spurred by swine flu fears. One mom, Karina Morales Martinez, talks to host Jacki Lyden about how her family got out of Mexico City — not because of fear, but because of boredom.

JACKI LYDEN, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Jacki Lyden.

Swine flu has spread to 30 American states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today that the flu is affecting mostly the young, a worrying trend. A quarter-million kids will be out of school for at least another week in the U.S.

South of the border, school closings have left 33 million students with not much to do. In Mexico City, many who could got out of town for places like San Miguel de Allende. That's where we reached Karina Morales Martinez, who traveled with her husband and two small children to stay with friends. They left Friday.

Ms. KARINA MORALES MARTINEZ (Mexico City Resident): But not because we were afraid of the flu, basically because we were very bored in the city.

LYDEN: Do you know people who've been sick with swine flu?

Ms. MARTINEZ: No, and I don't know anybody that knows somebody that has been sick with the flu. Yeah, as you said, I have two kids, and there's no schools in Mexico City. You have to be indoors all the time. So, we were going nuts, basically, you know?

I mean, we tried to take small walks, but you don't feel totally comfortable about doing it because there's like a certain vibe from other people.

Actually, one day, I was walking with my kids, and I heard a lady saying, like, saying, if I had kids, I wouldn't be out in the streets.

LYDEN: Does San Miguel de Allende feel different?

Ms. MARTINEZ: Well, here in San Miguel de Allende, people are not wearing masks. This is like nothing happened here, you know, and they feel a little freaked out because we come from the city, and they can see that because we're not dressed up as tourists, you know?

LYDEN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. MARTINEZ: So, when we got into the store, they heard us talking, and we have a Mexico City accent, and they immediately put their masks on to cover their mouths and nose, and that was really a strange reaction, actually, for us to see that.

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