The original inspiration came from @kennyskitchen about a month ago. In this post he introduced his ingenious Mesh Mask which not only looks great, but apparently works pretty well too, since nobody can claim that it isn't a real mask. I had myself a good laugh seeing this video, and then proceeded to forget about it... if it hadn't been for one of those frustrating "mask moments" I found myself in, on the very same day.
Entering the Oxxo convenience store in Puerto Angel, down on the Oaxacn coast, I was told that my bandana tied around my face in cowboy style was not considered a face mask, and I had to leave the store. Fortunately my buddy had whatever was considered a "proper" mask, so I could complete my intended purchase. Even though his mask only had a single layer of fabric, unlike the two layers on my bandana folded in a triangle. But who cares, obviously it's not the thickness or fabric density they require, but the mask shape with ear straps and stuff. Okay...
Back to the Mosquito Mesh
When I got back home to Mexico City, I looked around and found an old mosquito net I wasn't using as such any longer. I even remembered why: the mesh was way too loose, and mosquitoes had no problem passing through the large holes. Still I kept it, knowing that it would come in handy someday. Well, that day had come.
I cut off a large piece of it, and took it to our local market El Chorrito, where I knew there was a small tailor's shop. I asked the guy to make me a mask using the mosquito fabric, and I even gave him a sample mask to follow the shapes. He had no objection, and said he'd have it ready by the next day. True to typical Mexican fashion, I had to go back three times, as mañana turned into próxima semana. But in the end I had three beautiful mosquito masks, for which I paid 30 pesos (about fifty US cents for each mask!)
Testing the Mask to See if it Works
Wearing the mask over my nose and mouth felt a lot more comfortable, as I had no problem breathing through the thing. That's already half the success, but now I wanted see if they say anything when I try to enter businesses. My first attempt was the Chorrito market, which I had to leave first, then re-enter wearing my new mask. Nobody said a word, they just squirted death-gel into my hands.
The next try was the supermarket, where they tend to be sort of strict most of the times. But they just smiled, greeted my in a friendly way, and asked me to step into the chlorine water to disinfect my shoe soles. No words about my mask.
Emboldened by so much success, I tried Sanborns, the fancy-pants chain store and only place to buy rolling tobacco. Again, my mask was never mentioned, I just had to get my dose of radiation to confirm my apparent chronic hypothermia of 35.4 (honestly, since the start of the pandemic my body temperature has never been over 36.5).
Then I decided to try a bank. Not that I actually needed to go there, I just wanted to see if I could. And since there was no long line I thought I'd gave it a shot. Again, my mask didn't raise an eyebrow. I was quite excited now. It seems like this mesh mask is generally accepted.
Since then I had been to a bakery, a pet-food store, a fruit-and-veggie place, and finally I even tried an Oxxo. Of course it was not the same Oxxo in Perto Angel that I was kicked out from, still it was a relief that even here my mask was accepted just like any other.
Try It For Yourself!
So now I guess I should try flying with it, or maybe just taking the metro first. Though I have to admit, Mexico is famous for offering mere lip service to international regulations, and for taking a mostly liberal approach towards Covid. So what works here may not work everywhere. In Germany, for example, I assume you'd have to attach an FFP3 tag for it to work. But then again, it's up to us to try and experiment, and keep pushing the envelope that is enveloping us more and more. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before I get a chance to whip out all the reasons I have prepared for someone who may not think my mesh mask is acceptable. (It's a mask after all!) And until then, at least I can breathe freely AND wear a mask. Perfect solution!