It’s COVID-19 in Peru Day 11.
Day 11? I seriously never imagined 11 days of this. I mean, I knew it could take a while to get out of Peru, and actually originally thought we’d be here until April 4th. We still might. Or later. But I’ve never written every day like this, without pulling an “I can’t go on!” back of hand to forehead swoon. “I …. simply…. can’t…write…another word!!” she says, collapsing to the floor as her purple peignoir floats, beautifully and in slow motion, into a graceful surrounding pool of silk.
So: Hi. Heard any good jokes lately?
Back in the Early Morning Hours Again
I wake at 3 and after about 15 minutes I say hell with this bed thing. I don’t meditate. I finish my Day 10 post. I check for Embassy emails.
Here’s the new fear I torture myself with. The Embassy sends an email and tells us to meet them at 8 a.m. We get there, having locked the apartment keys in the apartment. The Embassy tells us that, whoops, you have to go home. We have no home to go to.
Or here’s another thing that I worry about: The Embassy sends us an email to be at the Embassy at 8. But we don’t get said email until 9:15. This happened to someone.
Or we get put on a plane and it turns back, and we’re back to not having a home. This has happened, too.
When I was nervous about even doing this trip, I had to keep reminding myself, these scary things haven’t happened yet. You’ll deal with them when and if they happen.
So I’m dealing. And the new scary things haven’t happened. Yet.
Woman’s Gotta Eat.
I have clicked on a link that tells me the Perfect Food for my Astrological Sign during quarantine. This is so dumb that I not only click, I scroll through to near the bottom; Aquarius is always second to last. But they actually say something that applies to me: Aquarians love variety. I complained yesterday that I was sick of eating. But the recommended Spaghetti Pancake tickles my fancy.
By 8 a.m., there’s no bulletin from the Embassy. I ask Steve to pick up more eggs, and more wine. He reports that the store is crazy, but not so crazy that he couldn’t get what he needed.
I see on the news that the President of Peru, Martin Vizcarra, has been in conference late into the night, perhaps all night, weighing whether or not to extend the quarantine.
So no wonder the store’s busy. People are preparing.
Up on the roof, I listen to the Daily podcast from the NYT, as a soundtrack to a couple of thousand steps. I see one woman up top. She doesn’t wave, and after I’ve been up a few minutes, she’s gone. I think she was done with her workout, and the sun’s out and blazing. Mist will roll in, but it hasn’t yet.
Early on, the rooftop felt at least a little communal; people were keeping distant, but kids were going up to play, people were sunning, working out. Now it’s a ghost town. Ghost rooftop, anyway.
Fasten Your Seatbelts.
What’s going on in Peru is not even making a blip on international news screens, so I’m glad I can read a little Spanish, and have google translate to help me with the many words I don’t know.
There’s no new news, nothing from the Embassy from the time we get up until noon.
And then, around 1 p.m., we get a bulletin. Of course, I already know the news because I’ve been following in Spanish. Steve and I will not be fluent by the time we leave, but we will definitely not need as many subtitles.
The quarantine’s been extended until April 13th, including border closings. The only way out for the time being is one of the Embassy’s charters.
I remind myself that we are safe, we’re well, we have money.
The Spaghetti Pancake is awesome. You can go to the link above, but honestly, you just cook spaghetti, saute a bunch of vegetables, let both things cool, then mix it up with eggs, cheese, and some milk or yogurt. You get your pan really hot; I’ve learned after the chicken to ramp up our tiny stove to burn. You let the pancake cook on one side, then you put a plate on the pan and flip it.
On Steve’s side, I add chicken.
Bring on the Night
I check in with our rep, and tell her the news. She confirms that she’s heard the same thing on her end, and also that a few flights from Peru to Miami (or vice versa? it’s confusing) have been turned back. I tell her, once again, we can wait our turn.
My friend Deborah writes to me. We went to school together at University of Utah; she grew up Mormon, I did not. She says, “Here’s a winning strategy. Get in touch with your local LDS missionaries. Show the slightest interest in their message. They’ll evacuate you on the next missionary plane.”
We drink wine. We have a dance party. Here is my dance party outfit; I have had to wash my skirt out in the sink, so I throw on a nightgown. We were supposed to be in colder places, so I don’t have many options for the heat.
I play my favorite dance song. Sting starts live with “Bring on the Night,” which is a so-so song. But about 2 and a half minutes in, he busts into an extended version of “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around.” It’s close to 10 minutes of inspired riffing on the Police song. Kenny Kirkland makes the piano writhe and spit like a furious cobra.
There are later versions of this on YouTube with visuals, but trust me this is the version you want.
We get an email from the embassy with a new wrinkle. It says, effectively, that more US citizens left today, and that we need to be ready.
The “be ready” part is new. We knock on our across the hall neighbors door. In Spanglish, we communicate that we don’t know when we’ll leave, but we have to knock on the door early. We have groceries, comestibles, and would love for them to take them.
“I’ve been to Arizona and Salt Lake City,” says our neighbor, John. Another non-Spanish name. “You have a great country.”
“So do you,” we say.
I go on Facebook, my second check of the day. The first check, someone I used to work with is bitching about Trump followers. I have had it. Not because I have an iota of respect or love for Mr. Trump, but because the self-righteous ire repels me.
I post, instead of complaining and hating on people, try finding someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum and say, are you ok? How can I help?
I’m pretty much done with FB. It’s a wankfest, which is why I’ve avoided it up until This Happened.
And you know what? The entire time I’ve been in Peru, under quarantine, not one single person in Peru has said, who did you vote for? Let me lecture you and tell you how stupid you are because you did that.
Jesus Christ, people, and I say that not as a curse, but invoking someone we should all emulate. Take the logs out of your own eyes already and love each other.
The Last, or Maybe Not, Shout-out.
We realize the 8 o’clock shout-out may be our last. Or not. I mean, technically, they all could be.
We clap and cheer with our neighbors on their balconies for a couple of minutes. As our cheers die out, the rest of the city begins to activate. 12 minutes later, it’s still going, whistles, sirens, cheers, lights. On the day when the president has said, we have to do this longer, people are roaring their resilience.
This is what our world looks like at the moment. Immensely flawed. Pretty damn busted.