Still at Home

As you may have heard or read, the quarantine and curfew in Peru was extended until April 26, 2020.  Online school will continue until at least May 4, 2020.  Those are the dates as of today, and of course they can change.  My guess, as of today, is that some restrictions will be lifted beginning on April 27, but I doubt that schools will open on May 4.

Here in Lima, the presence of many birds, more than usual, and clean air continue to please.  The nights are quieter.  I have seen Orion’s Belt on the cloudless nights, a rare sighting in the past five years.  So yes, there are some positives during these distancing times.  (I am not denying the bad news–I am aware of the huge death toll that the coronavirus has brought to our world.  I, though, do not spend much time taking in the hour-by-hour updates.)

What change will we be when the worst of the danger passes?  What lasting change will we create as we realize that, truly, we are in this world together?

Their challenges are our challenges; their fate is our fate.
Are we listening?  Will we act?

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 less of 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