It’s COVID-19 in Peru Day 6.
I’m up at 4. Before falling asleep, I text my oldest sister, Julie, the one I feel ok freaking out on (which is not really fair to her, but she’s there for me), “I feel like the little girl in Aliens, when she says, no matter what you do, it won’t make any difference.”
I lie in bed about 15 minutes, trying to relax and get back to sleep. I really I haven’t been this tense since before last Sunday. Because before the announcement, before we were stuck here, I was beginning to feel a creeping dread that we needed to get out. Ever since Peru made the decision for us, that we wouldn’t get home for a little bit, I’ve slept better.
But now, the dystopia I’ve long feared deep in my bones is upon us. People can handle being sick as long as they have food, water, and internet. But seeing how bad things are economically, worldwide….well, I’m lying awake.
So I get up. And I see two loving messages on my phone. One a simple “love you” from my son; he and my daughter are the ones I have to stay positive and strong for. I can also count on the fact that they don’t read my blog. Kids do (or don’t) the darndest things.
The other is from Julie.
She doesn’t play it down. She says that she’s scared too. But then she adds, “Love is far greater than fear, even the smallest light can’t be snuffed out by darkness, and I know from past experiences that I will have what I need when I need it.”
In this moment, there is no lack, there is nothing to fear, there is much to be grateful for.
Up on the Roof, Redux
After the bizarre through-the-looking-glass rooftop experience yesterday, I decide it’s still the place that I want to meditate. I head up, see where I went wrong—and really, it’s just not that interesting. It’s a little confusing up there, but you just have to pay attention. Pretty much life in a nutshell.
I meditate high atop the empty city. An occasional bus lumbers by. I think again how relieved the earth must be with this radical reduction in emissions. Apparently, water life is coming back to Venice after years of being invisible, smothered by the constant roiling of gondolas, water taxis, and cruise ships.
I chant the Yebul in Sino-Korean, something we do at the Ann Arbor Zen Temple, where I’ve been practicing meditation for a while. I’m struck by how, when you chant slowly and musically, the sound vibrations fill your body. I’m not confined to a rooftop for those few minutes, I’m just part of a big sound.
A couple from the building come up to exercise. They see me, my hands joined together in prayer, nod, and smile.
I smile back. Then I head back down.
Up on the Roof, yet again.
I head back to the roof around noon. It’s hot, of course, with the sun straight overhead. I’m not confused this time. I know the right door!
There are quite a few people, sitting in the sun, and 2 or 3 exercising to an online program. “Pull that knee in! Crunch those abs! Again!” yells someone like….I dunno, Billy Banks? Isn’t he an online exercise person?
No one looks up. No one responds to my grateful energy.
It’s hot. It’s Day 6.
I head back down, and after a while, decide to work out with Kendall. 20 minutes into a 60 minute workout, the video judders, quits. I run in place, get a minute or 2 more of her video. Then it quits again, that circular arrow of a non-responsive stream rotating front and center on my laptop screen.
I give up. It’s Saturday. People are streaming.
Then I realize, it’s nothing but Saturday for another 9 days.
What if we have a power shortage? a water shortage? what if food supplies get tighter?
I resolve to tell Steve to start picking up some bottled water every time he goes out.
The Embassy Responds
Around 4, he tells me we have an email from the US Embassy. 2 airlines, LATAM and Avianca, are offering emergency flights to the US. Of the 1400 or so stranded US citizens, close to 400 have already left the country.
Up until now, I’ve felt that we could wait our turn, given how desperate people are. But if there are only 1000 of us left, we could be out in a few more planes.
We register with the two separate airlines, as Steve says, “I thought we were all set here.”
Now, to be fair, we have been feeling like we were very safe here in Lima. But now that I have a chance to leave, I realize I’ve been putting a brave face on the situation.
Get Me Out.
I say, as calmly as possible—which at the moment is not particularly—”If you don’t want to register, stay here. No problem. I need to get home.”
My kid in Michigan is relatively safe. But my other kid is in Philadelphia, and that’s pretty easy math when you look at a map of the east coast. They’re adults, yes. But they’re my kids. And I’ve already spent time today worrying, what if things don’t stay sunny in Lima? What if people really, really want us out, to stop using their resources, to just deal with this on their own?
I’m a US citizen, and I need to be in my own country. I can drive to help a sick kid or cook for a healthy one. I can stop worrying about whether things are going to radically change here in Peru or stateside over the next 2 weeks, to the point where we can’t get home after all, etc., etc.
I repeat. I just want to go home.
We end up killing a bottle of white and most of a bottle of red.
A beautiful bird decides to perch on a thin slab of concrete projecting up from a building right outside our balcony. I don’t think it’s big enough to be a condor. But it’s something from the hawk family. He or she—they?—sits for a long, long time, undisturbed by traffic above or below.
Finally, we get a decent—not good, but at least somewhat representative—video of the nightly shout-out.
Another Government Decides for Us
After Steve goes to bed, I get a link to an article from one of my nephews. US citizens are now being ordered home, wherever they are. The embassy here is working around the clock to get us out.
We’re sitting tight. I’m packed, with just some basics sitting out that I can shove in my suitcase when we get the word to get to the airport. Checking email frequently.
Please: Never, never again complain to me of being bored.