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?

Day 100

Ver imagen en TwitterToday marks day 100 that Peru has been in quarantine.  In that time there have been more than 250,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 8,000 deaths.  Peru even made it to #6 in the world of confirmed cases.

This is nothing to celebrate.

Through their actions, though, Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra, and his cabinet have probably saved many lives.  For that, we can be thankful.  The decisions by the leaders haven’t been perfect, nor have the actions of many citizens as they evaded or disregarded the precautions.  In general, things could be much worse.  The struggle continues.

As we mark day 100, my school year is ending.  In 25 years of teaching, this is the first time I have been at one school for four consecutive years–actually 4 1/2 years.  (I was in the St. Paul district longer, but at many different schools.)  Ending a virtual semester brings the joy of accomplishment and the sadness of goodbye in an odd fashion: we’re not together in person.  I miss being with my students and colleagues.  Most of them I will see when we begin again, again virtually.  Stay tuned to see when the quarantine ends and we go back to the brick and mortar.

A fond farewell to those who are leaving.  I will be here.  Online.  Stay in touch.

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.

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