Quarantine and Curfew in Peru

It could always be worse.

With the arrival of the coronavirus, Peru is in lockdown.  All schools are closed until Monday, March 30. All people in Peru are in quarantine until the same date.  No one leaves home without official permission, or a very good reason.  Police and the military are stopping people, asking questions, and detaining them if necessary.

If all goes well, schools will resume on that Monday with a flattened coronavirus curve.  Because some people are not following the directive, an overnight curfew will be implemented beginning tonight.  From 8:00 PM until 5:00 AM no one leaves home.  No one.  Starting tomorrow morning, no personal cars can be on the roads.  None.

During this crisis, I am teaching middle school from home.  Thankfully, my students have been wonderfully flexible as we figure out online learning.  Kudos to them, their parents, and the team of adults from school that make this possible!

I remember three years ago when heavy rains caused landslides that filled the rivers and closed the water processing plant for Lima (los huaicos).  At that time, the schools also closed.  If I had to choose (and I don’t want to), I think I prefer being locked down with water to living in Lima with no water.  Maybe a couple of weeks like this will change my mind.  I  will let you know.

For now, Zoom lets us keep classes going and allows for other gatherings, such as a St. Patrick’s Day Zoom with family in Minnesota.  And I am at home, unlike my fellow Minnesotans who are stranded here, waiting for flights home.  With patience and good humor, all will be well.

All will be well.

Novel Coronavirus Blues

This is the first draft of Novel Coronavirus Blues.  As a language teacher, writing from Lima, Peru, I find that a bit of creativity can focus the mind.  (Feel free to sing it out following a standard 12-bar blues progression. BTW: That link does not have a bridge.)

Verse 1
We celebrated New Year’s and everything was good
And 2020 started, well, just like it should.
We thought that we’d see clearer in the leap year of the Rat
But the health news of pandemic filled the screens and every chat
While walking in fog, your mind, you think you’ll lose
You’re singing the Novel Coronavirus blues

Chorus
My friend how are you feeling?  How’s the temperature of your head?
When you see gone-viral videos are you filled up with dread?
For the young it’s not a problem still you worry about that cough
You cover it with your elbow sleeve and watch your friends back off
You’re glad you weren’t in the group, on the flight or a cruise
You’re singing the Novel Coronavirus blues

Bridge
So you went to get more info from the sources that you know
You rounded up statistics and that filled your mind with woe
Finally you said, “Mom and dad, I don’t wanna be misled”
They sat you down and shared their truth
And this is what they said…

Verse 2
So the president’s cancelled classes and Zoom is our new friend
No nurse or bathroom passes, all commutes are at an end
Our reality is virtual, I’ll see you in the cloud
With fits and starts we’ll lurch ‘n’ fall and end up feeling proud
Mindset may be the only thing you can choose
You’re singing the Novel Coronavirus blues

Closed by Corona

Today Martin Vizcarra, president of Peru, made the decision to close and/or not open schools until March 30, 2020.  Most private schools in Peru had already begun the school year (my school had already begun the second semester); public schools were scheduled to open in Peru on Monday, March 16, 2020.  This is to say that my middle schoolers will not be coming to school tomorrow as the teachers move classes online for the next two weeks.  If the situation warrants it, I am sure that schools could remain closed.

Is this a good idea?  Perhaps an over-reaction?  In Peru there are now 17 cases of coronavirus.  Considering population of almost 33 million, 17 cases seems pretty small.  The problem is that not all schools have the conditions necessary for students to stay virus-free.  According to one article, 10% of the schools in Lima do not have water.  If students cannot wash their hands, the virus spreads more easily.  Such a statistic begins to explain the decision.

While I would much rather have students come to school, I understand the decision.  So, I will look forward to learning more about online teaching as I practice it for the next few weeks.  I completed my M.A. in Teaching Writing from John Hopkins online; I have some experience as an online learner.  Three years ago school was closed because of the huaicos in Peru so I had the chance to get my feet wet in online teaching.  This time I will only get better.

If you have any suggestions for online learning, please let me know.

#Voto2020

IMG_4864

My ID card (DNI) with its sticker indicating that I voted.

It’s election day in Peru!

This congressional election was called when the current president, Martin Vizcarra, used his constitutional authority to close congress after the congress took actions that allowed the president to close the congress.  It’s rather complicated, and someone else can explain it better than I.  Vizcarra became president when PPK was forced to resign.

The importance for me, personally, is that it is my first time voting in Peru.  Now that I am a Peruvian citizen, it is my obligation to vote; I have to vote or pay a fine.

When you vote in Peru, you vote for a party.  There are 21 political parties on the ballot today.  After you choose the party, you can, if you want, choose two candidates by number.  What you cannot do is choose candidates from different parties.  Using the electronic voting machine, it is impossible to choose candidates from different parties.  (I used an electronic machine at my polling place.)  Using a paper ballot, choosing two parties makes your vote null.

We should know by tomorrow some of the results.

By the way, alcohol cannot be sold from 8:00 AM on Saturday until 8:00 AM on Monday during weekend elections, which are always held on a Sunday.

The First Sound is Never the Birds

The first sound is never the birds
Neither the coo of the pigeon in the palm
Nor the call of the scrub blackbird

Trash truck sounds first
Diesel motor idle roar
Breaking bottles
Pre-dawn-end-of-the-route whisper
Of tired haulers
Hoarse

Then
Cars racing
Motorcycles revving
(Car alarms activated)
House alarms
Dog alarms
Fresh bread morning whistles
Ice cream tricycle kazoos
Old Marta shouting, “Ta-ma-le-ta-ma-le-ta-ma-le!”
(The first time I listened late and heard ma-le-ta [suitcase] not tamale)
Emergency sirens
Pounding, drilling, sanding, scraping
Street-vibrating renovations
Eleven million vying

Pause

Coo
        Call
                  Chirp
                          Song
Relax and respond

Never the first, never the last
Yet always the soothe in the din-
Awareness revealing the bird-song

Listen

For the coo of the pigeon in the palm
And the call of the scrub blackbird

.                                        Lima, Peru 2019

Work-Required Medical Check-Up

When you live and work in Peru, your company/ organization has the legal obligation to check your health every two years.  It is rather ridiculous.

This morning I arrived Jockey Salud at about 6:50AM and checked in.  The clerk at the counter on the second floor told me to sit down because they were not attending yet.  I sat down.  About five minutes later a different employee told me to go stand in line because they were attending now.  I returned to the first clerk who seemed to not remember telling me to sit down.

First they sent me to get my blood drawn on floor two.  Then they sent me to the sixth floor to have my eyes checked.  The attendant/ doctor/ nurse told me that my glasses are fine for my needs.  I knew this.  What I didn’t know is the name nor title of the person attending me.

Then, still on the 6th floor, I went to be weighed and have my height measured.  This attendant/ doctor/ nurse told me to take off my shoes (very light weight) but keep on the two jackets that I was wearing this chilly morning.  I was told a weight that I have never weighed in my life.  Blood pressure and oxygen saturation also measured, I went to wait in the hall.

The next attendant/ doctor/ nurse listened to my lungs and heart, pressed my stomach, and had me touch my nose with my arms extended.  She made sure I could move my arms and legs.  Then, only looking at the numbers she was handed, told me that my numbers were with in all of the normal ranges.  So far, the only person who looked at me was the eye attendant/ doctor/ nurse.  Ironic?

Then down to the 5th floor to see the psychologist.  I was asked to draw a human figure and copy some figures from another page without erasing.  Before coming to this appointment someone told me to make sure I drew a line for the ground in my picture. Odd.  The psychologist did not tell me his name or title either.  The door said “Psychology.”  When he asked me if I feel stress at work I laughed and said, “I work with 6th graders; it’s part of the job.” He seemed concerned.  We agreed that it was not excessive nor something to be concerned about.

They sent me back to the second floor for a chest X-Ray and told me I could go home.

No names, no titles, very limited eye contact, no explanations about what was going to happen or why we were doing this.

I need to see if I can have my own doctor do this work, look at me, pay attention to me and inform me.   I would be willing to do this on my own time with my own money to not feel like a widget on an assembly line.

The results will be sent to the school.  Will anyone besides me look at the results?  What if I am overweight or need new glasses?  I’m not and I don’t, but what if?  What are the consequences?  Can they fire me for saying no to the tests?  What about for having a fast pulse?  This has never been explained to me.

Maybe we are just going through an assembly line, a legal requirement.

When I returned to school I received an email telling me that I signed in late to work using the fingerprint scanner.  Although that email felt like a real slap in the face from the folks who sent me to this appointment, at least they notice me and noticed I was gone,  unlike the attendants/ doctors/ nurses at Jockey Salud.