Tourists writhe their bodies to pumping techno beats on dance floors along Mexico’s Caribbean coast — a magnet for people from around the world who want to party during a pandemic.
The Latin American country is among those worst hit by Covid-19 with a death toll fast approaching 200,000.
But such worries seem a world away in tourist resorts like Tulum and Cancun, where visitors can dance late into the night at discos, electronic music festivals and invitation-only parties.
Once a sleepy fishing village, Tulum now attracts international tourists lured by its turquoise waters, Mayan ruins and the chance to party next to lush jungle, freshwater sinkholes and golden beaches.
“The coronavirus thing is nonsense. Life must go on,” said Greta from Spain who described the rave she attended in December as “amazing.”
“The party in Tulum was magical — a combination of the jungle, rituals, the sea breeze,” she said.
But what is a dream for Greta is a nightmare for many others, leaving the town facing accusations that it is putting lives at risk by allowing mass gatherings with lax sanitary measures.
Mexico is one of the few major tourist destinations not to have closed its borders or demanded a negative coronavirus test result on arrival.
That has ensured that the plane-loads of visitors keep coming, making Mexico the third-most visited country in the world last year.
In destinations like Cancun, hotels offer incentives such as free Covid-19 tests and discounts for guests if they are infected and forced to extend their stay in order to quarantine.
– ‘Super-spreader event’ –
Tulum made international headlines in November when 50 attendees were infected at Art With Me, Mexico’s version of the Burning Man festival that was quickly dubbed a super spreader event.
As a result, organizers of the Zamna electronic music festival were forced to pull the plug on the 16-day series of events that was supposed to start in December.
Ticket holders who paid up to $300 for a night dancing to international DJs and techno music acts will now have to wait until April — and bring a mask.
“Sadly, the image of Tulum is being affected, in the eyes of the world, by the negligence of some entrepreneurs to organize events without respecting health and safety protocols,” the organizers said.
Lower-key events continue to go ahead, with more than 20 private parties organized in the past two weeks, according to messages in WhatsApp groups promoting them.
Quintana Roo, the southeastern state home to Tulum, Cancun and the Riviera Maya, is now at yellow status — the second highest of four under the country’s traffic-light system.