Happy Spring! Officially we are in Spring although the weather here in Chicago must not be aware of it yet but, after all, it is Chicago…
The world is going crazy and we cannot take anything for granted anymore. This Covid-19 virus is wreaking havoc on our society and, whatever our Government, talking heads and other pundits may say, we cannot even foresee the consequences for the medium-long future. By the way and at the risk of being considered non-politically correct, I also call it the Chinese or Wuhan virus. I do not see anything racist in that term. Ten days ago, I went to a Chinese restaurant to eat Chinese food. It was Sichuan cuisine and not Wuhan or Hunan but still it was Chinese…
However, somewhere in the back of my head, the history of the Mayan and other cultures pop up. At the height of their civilization, they suddenly disappeared, and we are wondering what may have happened to them. What caused that civilization to implode? What catastrophic event made the Mayas vanish so quickly? Another society that fell into ruin like that was the fascinating Moche culture of coastal northern Peru but, in that case, we now know that this was caused by several debilitating El Niño weather events so we can only wonder if something like that could happen to our way of life.
Talking about Peru, this brings me to how the current events are affecting my Peruvian wife, Mila, and myself.
Well, as far as I am concerned, I am self-quarantined in my condo here in the Chicago suburbs. Fortunately, I am healthy, but I only go out to do my shopping. We are all social-distancing (a new term that will certainly be printed in the next edition of the Webster’s Dictionary) and I take all necessary precautions. I am still planning on going to our place in Florida later this month but will see in the next few days if that will even be feasible.
Dear Mila had, several months ago, decided to go back this month to her native Peru to visit her parents who both happen to have their birthdays in March. She would be gone the whole month and return on March 31 in Miami where I would pick her up.
Well, that is obviously not likely to happen. The Peruvian Government has closed the borders, and nobody comes in or goes out. Like many hundreds of other U.S. citizens, she is stuck in Peru. Her situation is not as bad as that of the tourists, many of whom have no place to stay because most hotels have closed their doors. They have no way of coming back and the U.S. Government is looking into sending military planes to Lima to repatriate them. Mila is staying with her parents in Lima and they too are self-quarantining. She stays in a small apartment on the second floor of her parent’s house and only goes out to go shopping. The lock-down in Peru is very heavily enforced with army and police in the streets. You cannot drive a car unless you have a written permission. Kids who were playing soccer outside were handcuffed and dragged to jail. There is a “Toque de Queda” or curfew from 8:00PM to 5:00AM and that too is very strictly enforced with very heavy penalties. You can only go out for emergencies.
She is the only one in the household who goes to the market and does the shopping. She does not want her eighty year-old father – although in excellent health – and her mother, who has some health issue, to go outside.
Basically, we have no idea when she will be back in the USA. It could be weeks or months. On one hand, I would like to have her come back to the States on one of the planned military flights but, on the other hand, she is pretty safe with her parents.
Either solution is not ideal.
If she comes back with a military airlift, she will have to mingle with many hundreds of other people some of whom may be sick. They would arrive in the USA and probably be put in quarantine on a military base, like the cruise ship passengers. The advantage would be that she would be back with excellent medical attention if needed.
If she stays there, we will have no clue when the Peruvian Government would allow the borders to reopen to normal traffic. It could be months. Of course, she could take care of her parents and remain in self-isolation but, should she get sick, she could be in trouble as her medical insurance does not cover care in a foreign country. The other problem I can see is that she might not be able to access her money in the USA anymore if the banks and ATMs do not work any longer in Peru. Because everybody is locked down, the Internet has seen a huge increase of usage and is slowing down, and Mila also noticed that the water pressure is decreasing.
Right now, we communicate by text messaging and by WhatsApp which allows us to see each other “live” (and alive) and hear each other’s voice but I cannot wait to see her smiling face back on U.S. soil.
I will keep you informed of developments affecting her situation in Peru.
By the way, due to the current situation and uncertainty, we will be canceling (or rescheduling) our flotillas in Turkey, Mallorca, Tuscany and Sardinia. Let’s hope this will blow over soon.
Be safe and stay healthy!
Capt. Jean De Keyser.