It’s COVID-19 in Peru Day 17.
And it’s April 1st. Last week, I told my family we figured we’d be home by last weekend.
We also said, worst case scenario, we’ll just take our scheduled flight on April 4th. And, with the lockdown ending on March 31st, I thought we might even have a little more time to enjoy Lima.
Well, that didn’t happen. Commercial side of the airport is closed until April 12th at the moment (which of course can change), with any repatriation flights going out on the military side of the airport. The Embassy barely checked in yesterday, which tells me they’re dealing with some nightmares while running on whatever you run on when you don’t have fumes.
I decide to cook.
My New Grocery HQ
Cooking in a different country requires extreme flexibility, which is a great thing. The two places where I’ve cooked the most, Germany and now Peru, have vastly different approaches to shopping than the US—also a great thing. Refrigerators are small, so people shop more often. Here, you see the occasional Organic label on a few packaged things, but mostly people would just laugh or look at you as if you had lobsters coming out of your ears if you asked for it. It’s a much more egalitarian experience.
I’ve become especially fond of the local eggs. How could I not?
In the US, and I fall into this trap all the time, I can get anything any time I want it, so I do. I shop for a week at a time, and generally by the time I get to the midpoint of the week, I have no idea why I bought, oh, that bottle of green curry paste and that big massive bunch of bok choy. In other words, I’m terribly spoiled.
Today, I peek around a few food blogs, my favorite being Half Baked Harvest, to get some ideas so I don’t do the same old thing. I tend to riff off of recipes anyway, not follow them too slavishly. Here, that’s a necessity. A plate of Fiery Tomato Sauced Pasta sounds really good; I nabbed a gorgeous bouquet of basil just yesterday.
Well, tomatoes grow easily in Peru. So there are no canned tomatoes. Nowhere. I’m not used to having in season tomatoes, which I then have to peel and seed, so when I cook with tomatoes, I used canned San Marzanos.
I’m in a sub-tropical country. I mean, tomatoes originated here. I realize I’m making old school tomato sauce. Cool.
Cut/Paste “I’m Fine.”
When I check in with my son via text, he is clearly weary of being asked if he’s ok. “I’m having to cut and paste my response,” he types. “I appreciate people checking on me, but it’s tiring.” Meanwhile, he says he feels low energy, but a tiny bit better.
So we talk about everything but health. I tell him I’m really glad he’s not a doctor; yesterday, I read about a woman whose son works in a New York hospital. I can’t imagine how awful it has to be for all families of health care workers. I don’t tell him about the story I read, but I remind him when he took a career aptitude test in high school; his top profession came out as “artist.” He told me at the time, “Isn’t that kind of like getting Movie Star? I mean, it seems like a lot to promise someone….”
He says the quarantine is probably easiest on video gamers. He talks about the joy of discovering new things when you play a game more than once, and I say that’s exactly how opera and ballet are. You don’t really want to see too many new ones, because there’s such depth to what’s there. We go back and forth on how back catalogs contain tremendous riches, particularly when compared with the majority of new stuff that gets foisted on us.
At the end of the conversation, we agree to do a daily check-in that’s not about how he feels.
Long Haul. Maybe. Probably?
The Embassy tells us there will be no flights tomorrow, but that they should restart on Friday. Then a later email says that they’re trying, but that Mike Pompeo “emphasized that we cannot guarantee the U.S. Government’s ability to arrange chartered flights indefinitely. All Americans should immediately make arrangements if you wish to return home.”
Well, that’s awesome. I’ll just call Delta—oh wait, that’s not really possible because there are no fucking planes on Delta or any other airline scheduled out of Lima because the freaking airport is closed.
I text my brother. “Remember how you said you’d fly down to get me? Want to float that by a superior at Alaska Airlines? Because I’m starting to think the State Department is going to take a really long time….”
He texts right back. “I just sent my boss a text. I’ll let you know.”
I mean, sometimes I think a lot of good ideas don’t happen just because someone didn’t bother to point out the obvious. So there goes nothin’….
I take pictures of our house. I know how you can forget stuff you think you’ll never forget. I love this little chair next to the picture. I love our flowers.
This is our kitchen. It has what we need.
This is our dinner. I didn’t make tomato sauce. Hell with that. I just chopped tomatoes up.
It tastes good.
When my nephew Jonathan (the John Krasinski double) was little, I once asked him after a move—they were a military family—how things had gone. He said, “We don’t have everything. But we have everything we need.”
So. We don’t have everything, but we do have everything we need.
Home, as a little sign says on a different wall of the flat, is where our story begins. And continues. See ya.