I reckon you’ve heard of the H1N1 flu epidemic (née swine flu). Maybe you’re currently wearing a face mask to work and changing seats on the bus when someone nearby sniffles. Or, perhaps, you’re in my camp and are thinking that maybe, just a little bit, this whole thing is sounding overhyped.
When a family friend’s condo in Puerto Vallarta suddenly become available for mid-June, I began following the minute-by-minute news with a more personal interest. I had to decide: take the plunge and commit to a possible flu-tainted vacation, or pass up the condo and remain, pouting, in the relatively safe backwaters of Oakland.
Like any good researcher, I turned immediately to my online resources. I Googled “swine flu and Puerto Vallarta,” which revealed some incredibly helpful blogs by local PV residents. Particularly useful was a frequently updated blog by a local Registered Nurse. I was also connected to chat rooms via TripAdvisor and Yahoo Answers, all with posts by people who had just completed, were currently enjoying, or planned to soon enjoy their Mexican vacations. Twitter Search provided the final piece I need to make my decision.
Sure, some folks were afraid. “Pandemic” is a pretty scary word, after all. But mostly, people were enjoying their time in Puerto Vallarta, flu free and happy. When I realized that there were fewer cases of H1N1 in PV than there were in my own backyard – and when flights dropped $200 in one day – I took the plunge. Tickets were purchased and I’m now on my way in five weeks. Olé!
To celebrate said ticket purchase, I posted a status update to Facebook, which was seen by an old college buddy of mine who also happens to be a local TV news reporter. She was just closing a story on the swine flu epidemic when she saw my post. She contacted me via Facebook and asked if I would agree to go on camera with my tale of bravery in the face of disease-tainted travel. Sure, why not?
Within 10 minutes, she was downstairs with a camera crew. I shared my story and gave Twitter a complimentary shout-out and, just like that, my anti-fear, pro-Mexico message was broadcast to the Bay Area. Huzzah!
Thanks, Google and Twitter. I’ll raise a banana daiquiri to you in five weeks.