In Our Hands

hands-600497_640The headline in La República today says we will not go back into a quarantine.  The president of Peru pointed out that the citizens understand the need to take precautions, such as using a face mask and maintaining your distance, so additional time in quarantine is not warranted.  The newspaper also points out that the number of infections is rising again and that the hospitals are filling up, some of them are full.

I hope the president is correct–both about the citizens taking precautions and not needing to return to quarantine.  My prediction is that decisions will be made as needed in order to keep people safe.  I hope.

Earlier this week, president Martin Vizcarra’s new cabinet took the oath of office.  Many of the ministers have previous political experience but are new to their positions in this cabinet.  With this new group there seems to be a new focus on revitalizing the economy, especially in areas of extraction.  Again, my hope is that decisions will be made in order to keep people safe.  Far too often mining and logging result in environmental destruction and human misery.  While it is very possible to mine in safe ways, governments often do too little to protect the health of the workers and the environmentLead poisoning and unsafe water are all too common.

The combination of COVID-19 and economic problems can be a moment of reinvention or a time to double down on dangerous economic practices.  People make those decisions; the future has yet to be written.  I believe that we can care for each other and the environment as we rebuild a people-focused economy.  We can, but will we?

Perhaps

Screen Shot 2020-06-05 at 1.57.22 PMAs winter approaches, and the temperature slowly declines here in Lima, Peru, the number of deaths from COVID-19 has risen to more than 4,700.  At the same time, some of the restrictions are easing for the public.  A couple of weeks ago, children were permitted to start going on walks close to their homes with an adult.  As of last Wednesday, adults are allowed to go for a walk or run.  Requirements: three kilometers maximum distance, wearing a mask, five meters from other walkers/runners, one adult leaving home at a time.  Restaurants have begun delivering food and some business are back at work.  Such is the ebb and flow of this pandemic.

When I went for a walk on Thursday (at less than two kilometers, it was the longest walk I have taken since March 15), I snapped a picture of the butterfly in a nearby garden.  Beautiful.

Of course not all is beautiful.  Not here, as I mentioned, and not in Minnesota.  In Minnesota the protests continue following the murder of George Floyd.  I completely support the protests that challenge structural racism and racist violence.  While I never condone violence, my experience and learning across countries and cultures help me understand from where the violence may come.  How many quiet protests have you heard about?  There are few example to point towards.

If the arc of the moral universe truly bends towards justice, we are headed for a better society.  There is much work, though, before we get there.  Perhaps, like the butterfly in the picture, we can go through change and emerge renewed, more loving, more just.  Perhaps.

I Will Stay Home

For the babies and the children
For the parents, and siblings, and aunts, and uncles

For the hospital workers
For the recently operated and the soon-to-be operated
For the at-risk with health concerns we cannot see

For the farmers and drivers and supermarket workers
For the families of the farmers and drivers and supermarket workers

For those who can’t work
For those who are still able to work
For those who have to work

For the grandparents who bring joy and tell stories
For the grandparents who support the children and the grandchildren
For the grandparents who carry the collective memories
And for everyone else

I will stay home

This is not about me and what I want
(I want to go out too)
My parents and grandparents and teachers taught me the dangers of being selfish

Together in community we all do better
It matters

I will stay home
You?

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.

#Voto2020

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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.

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.

Becoming Peruvian Part 9

IMG_3007(1)At the naturalization ceremony about three weeks ago, they told us that our resident ID cards would no longer be valid in one month.  They told us to go get our DNIs right away.  So, I started the process.

The folks at the RENIEC, the ones who process the DNI (documento nacional de identidad), told me it would take about two months and I could expect to have it on October 1, 2018, about one month after my resident ID card expired.  None of my family and friends thought it would take so long.

The family and friends were correct: on August 20, 2018 I picked up my DNI.  It took less than three weeks! Well done, RENIEC! How about that wanted-dead-or-alive face in the picture?!?!

Next steps: get a passport and change the documents associated with my bank accounts.

Becoming Peruvian Part 8

Well, it finally happened- I became Peruvian today at an 11:00 AM ceremony!

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We were asked to arrive at 10:00 AM for the rehearsal… and probably to make sure that everyone arrived on time for the ceremony (they said that there will be pictures and a video available this afternoon and I will add a link to this post when that happens: Link).  The ceremony did not start on time which, we were told, is extremely unusual but the official who was in charge had to take a “high level phone call.”

I was asked to be one of the speakers at the ceremony and I agreed.  I have no idea why I was asked to speak-  perhaps because others said no, perhaps because I was sitting in an aisle seat. There was also a woman from Dominican Republic who spoke; one man, one woman.

During the ceremony, the new citizens sat on the left side of the room while the guests sat on the right side of the room.  On the left side, the women sat in the first rows and the men sat toward the back.  Odd.  This separated some couples.

The ceremony ended by 11:45 AM.  It included an oath-taking, singing of the national anthem, a roll call of names where we received our new document and a rousing speech by the, um, head of migraciones?  I am not sure of his name.  Very Patriotic!

Now I will apply for my DNI (the national ID card) and then my Peruvian Passport.

A very good day!  It was also the first day of school here in Lima so I needed a substitute on the first day.

A big thanks to Ana Maria, my extended family, my school family and Peru for this opportunity and all of the support during this process.  ¡Viva Peru!

Becoming Peruvian Part 7.1

That part about Tuesday or Wednesday?  Nope.  It’s Thursday.  This Thursday.  This first-day-of-the-new-school-year Thursday.  The day after tomorrow, August 2, 2018, I will become Peruvian.  I offer apologies to my students and colleagues for my absence but I do not dare ask to go on a different day and put at risk this ten month odyssey; in 25 years of teaching I have never missed the first day.

I will bring a voucher from the Banco de la Nación for S/. 15.80 (that’s about $5.00), Form F002, and my ID card.  I will arrive before the 10:00 AM ceremony in formal attire (coat and tie?) with my one guest, my wife, and go to windows 38 and 39 in Room 5 on the first floor (those are the details from the email that I received).

Watch for pictures in just a few days!  Yep, I’m pretty excited.