It’s COVID-19 in Peru Day 8.
4:30 a.m. seems to be my new auto wake-up time. I recompress my Lima video and, what the hell, tweet it to @TrevorNoah. He apparently tried to start a Rome-inspired sing-out for COVID workers in NY. I still think Lima does it best.
Then I jump on the FB page for US citizens stuck in Peru. I try to help them contact their congress people, based on the encouraging response I received. I continue to check my email fervently. I continue to receive the same communication from the Embassy. I see their return address, but now I no longer get excited. It’s just a repeat message saying, if you haven’t done this yet, send us this info, but don’t send duplicate info. I delete or file every email once it comes in, keeping an eye on the number in my inbox on the tab.
I do another cryptic. I watch a King Princess video. So far, I’m more fascinated by her interview than her music.
Meanwhile, rumors abound on the message board.
An $800 flight shows up on Expedia. Almost immediately, a couple of folks reply, it’s a scam. You HAVE to wait for Embassy contact. Charter flights have been offered for between $1000 and $1400. To my knowledge, no money’s exchanged, but people are requesting passport numbers be added to spreadsheets. Everyone’s balking at that one.
I take advantage of the lull in FB messages and email to lie down for a bit. I feel another tremor shake the bed. One of our tour guides told us, “We feel tiny earthquakes all the time.” It feels like those old hotel mattresses you would put a quarter in and they would sort of barely vibrate. (Not the ones that would shake like an old washing machine. If you’re born after 1965, I fear there is no way you will get either reference.)
Advice from Jamaica
Our friend Pernella from Jamaica calls. She tells us to be sure to drink ginger and garlic tea every morning, do our stretches, and try to pick up green bananas.. “Boil them in water, then let the water sit overnight and drink it in the morning.”
“Pernella, are you safe? Are people panicking in Jamaica?”
“I’m safe because every morning I do my garlic and ginger tea. The people panicking are the ones who don’t take of themselves. I just stay in my place, and I’m safe.” I hear her rooster in the background.
As we talk, Steve is hanging our masks on a small coat tree, which he then moves to the balcony so the sun can disinfect them. Sun and humidity, he has read are COVID enemies. It’s the end of sub-equatorial summer, and, along with a willingness to enforce super-strict measures, many Latin American countries may get a break.
We have a lot to learn.
The social media/email/NYTimes screen flipping is starting to erode my soul. I decide to disconnect altogether. The movie leaving MUBI at midnight is from Bhutan. It’s called The Red Phallus. Talk about a had-me-at-hello title!
It is a gorgeous movie, featuring wide empty spaces in Bhutan, and a young woman desperate to get out of her serene and beautiful part of the world in which very little happens. The title objects are manufactured by her father as good luck symbols. They are, well, big wooden penises died red. There is one scene following the woman’s fit of silent rage that is just a close-up of hands vigorously, even sadistically sanding a big wooden dick. It is mesmerizing and bizarre and hilarious all at once. I mean, I can see myself doing that if I don’t get out of quarantine soon. Of course, I’d need wood and a sander. Probably best to not go looking for those right at the moment.
I have to watch in 20 minute installments because my concentration is shot. I realize I have to get back to longer periods of a quiet brain. I haven’t meditated in a couple of days. I resolve to get back into it today.
A Pep Talk (and not, I hope, a lecture)
A friend in the US texts, bitching about the extreme restrictions in her state. This friend is, how you say, a polar opposite politically from me. Meaning, well, I’m guessing the main news source is a channel named after an animal most often referred to as “Sly.”
She says, “Welcome to Russia!” Which basically shows very little knowledge of Russia.
I say, “Tough restrictions ARE tough, but they work and they save lives. We’re tough! We can do this.” I send the little strong arm emoji, because this is one of those text conversations where I am not forbidden from using emojis.
She writes back, “yes, Ma’am!” And, I think, realizing that that may have come off a little barky, adds, “That daily workout is showing.”
It dawns on me that we HAVE to remind each other that the things that many US citizens are proud of—their fight, their grit, their toughness—are the very things we need. I have been unfavorably comparing people in general from the US to those in Peru, who have pretty much said, OK, we’ll do what it takes.
It’s easy, at least for me, to blame our US-soil-bred rootin-tootin Yosemite Sam sense of liberty. But, particularly since a certain person became the designated official to park Oval Office, I have dulled down my belief and ability to recognize that people, no matter where they’re from or who they voted for, are capable of mind-boggling selflessness and kindness. I’ve worked hard to stop demonizing people on the other side of the political spectrum from me, but I’ve stopped there. I haven’t seen a unification point.
This could be it. We just have to suck it up and look to be courageous more than we look to be comforted.
Let’s be kind and expect the best in people. Let’s stop tearing each other down. We can emerge from this so much better.
Speaking of Yosemite Sam….
When my son was little, he thought people were saying “Somebody Sam” when they were really saying “Yosemite Sam.” And Somebody Sam made him laugh, which in my mind is a supreme service to humankind.
So here, for your viewing pleasure, is Somebody Sam.