Hello from the Equator!*
* Several Bloggers are using this title, which seems appropriate for this update. See Nicole, Otto Otto and CindyCindy with their smoke signals! (Perdon the double names.. the insert has a demon!)
Six months ago, if we had peered into 2020 via a crystal ball, few (none?) of us would have believed what we saw. If we DID believe, we would probably have altered some of our choices, and realized our priorities.
Loved ones write from various GPS locations on the planet and state something like this: “Lisa! Ecuador is in the news; I did not realize things were so bad there. How are you: how are things where you live?”
They are seeing the news out of Guayaquil/ Guayas Province, which seems to be Ecuador’s “Hot Spot.” After perusing various (and random) websites and updates, my first thought is, “Guayaquil’s climate is hot; Guayaquil is humid. To those who think that the virus vaporizes in warmer climates – look what’s happening here.”
I’ve been watching the virus stats since early January and sensed back then that ‘this is a sneaky virus’ capable of affecting many countries. Having not-so-lovely experiences with Dengue (twice) and Chikungunya, I have a profound respect for a virus’s ability to slam one near doorway to the ‘Valley of the shadow of death.’
Ecuador’s first case was in late February, and about ten days later our President Moreno began the evening curfew, which became more strict the next week when 2 pm became our ‘must be home’ hour.
They enforce the face mask rule and the required personal distance, which the latter is prominently marked with large red circles on the pavement/sidewalks outside most banks and supermarkets. At the closest supermarket, one person stands outside and observes the distancing and reminds all to use gloves and masks. Before the next person enters the store, a worker takes a ‘long distance’ digital reading for fever.
With shorter hours to conduct tasks of importance, people often form a long line outside the apartment and wait their turn to use the improvised window at the bank next door. The bank closes at noon, so I usually wait until the people have left before I venture outside. With soap and chlorox in hand, I wipe down the outside door and its hardware, run my errands, then wash everything again when I return (before 2!)
By noon, most everyone in this part of the city has vanished. The people have had practice in putting priorities in proper order. After the dengue-chikungunya epidemic, the 7.8 earthquake followed a year later on April 16, 2016. The residents of this area still recall the horrors of the earthquake – and of food shortages and of living in a very-basic mode for an extended time. Last week’s anniversary of the earthquake passed via quiet reflections – most in isolation which brought back acute memories to some.
Autos are allowed on the street one day a week, depending on the last number of the tag. On weekends, no driving is permitted aside from the exceptions. The people of Portoviejo seem to have adjusted well, are compliant and respectful of these regulations, and no one wants to be one of those statistics.
Yesterday morning downtown was blissfully silent, the skies pure and blue with fluffy cumulus clouds. In a four-block walk I saw four other people. With bucket of fruit and vegetable scraps, I walked to the nearby park to supplement the iguanas’ short food supply. Their hunger increases, and the larger ones often aggressively warn other ones with mighty strikes with their tails! One man ambled along and watched the iguanas eating the token ration of food. He stated that many people don’t care about the natural world; they only think of themselves. I did not argue with him, but I would hope more people would remember the iguanas if they knew they were hungry. He said that he would remind others.
On my meandering route back home, I paused to photograph the remnants of an historic house. A man wearing a quite-serious respirator-type mask approached on his bicycle. I mentioned the old house, and he then asked if I recognized him; he is a guard at the bank, but with mask I would never have recognized him!
He peddled onward and turned near a popular bakery doing a brisk Sunday-morning business. I returned to the apartment, washed the bucket – and my keys, the door, my hands, etc with soap and chlorox, then switched to quieter tasks.
A series of botanical studies continues, and the past week I’ve added color to the ink drawings. Adjusting to the restrictions has been easy for me, as my normal behavior remains basically the same. I wish for the nearby art-business-school supply store to be open, as I could use more paper and specific watercolor and ink for the printer! The latter is needed most, but there are many other options to keep me busy. Adaptation allows us to gracefully dodge frustrations!
One friend wrote and said that he knew that my diet was healthy, but if possible to be even more healthy! I assured him that my diet is ultra rich in nutrients, leans to the alkaline side and also ‘anti viral’ – which I started months ago to try to boot the lingering dengue/chikungunya side effects out of my life!
One man sells basic staples fresh from a farm in the nearby foothills from a modest corner location near the apartment. Large slightly-sour oranges: 15 for a dollar, and they always give me one extra! Eggs, 7 for a dollar, and they give me 8! Two-dollar papayas (the size of a watermelon) they sell for $1.50. I have a trump card – the knowledge of what I would be paying if still living at Poza Honda, so they know that I know they’re still making a nice profit. (They always give me more plantains than I ask for, but the extras – when ripe – are shared with the iguanas.)
April 22 marks Earth Day’s 50th anniversary; check the main website and see what’s happening in your area. They also have a page for artists, and ‘The Guardian Ceibo’ is included in that collection.
Not only painters, but also writers and musicians are featured. There are some amazing projects – spend time perusing, then consider adding your sky photos to this project.
Rolling back around to the evil pandemic in progress, this ted.com update showcases person reports from people in 23 countries, including Ecuador. http://ideas.ted.com/scenes-from-a-global-pandemic-heres-what-life-is-like-in-23-countries-from-the-ted-fellows/
My internet checks present my greatest risk in dodging this virus. With a small window of time, I am online from a discreet corner table at friends’ restaurant where they are allowed to serve take-out. By two I have to be home/off the streets – not only for my own ‘compliance’ but also to not risk my friends getting in trouble for being open past two. Forgive my silence, although I am reading most posts which are in ‘complete’ for via the email option. The very-talented and sensitive blogger Thom of The Immortal Jukebox thankfully warned us that he planned to go into quiet mode. Thom, you are missed!
Another blogger has been tossing out a few tunes each day with ‘Isolation Radio,’ and it’s my loss that I don’t have the opportunity to explore the varied selection of artists. Every so often there are tunes that I know well. If you’re wistful for a variety of tunes, he’s there – while his wife is one of those ‘still working’ heroes. https://diaryofaninternetnobody.com/
This was written off line, and now I am approaching the bewitching hour of 2 pm. Time to publish this and scram home! PS: (I also rebuilt the headboard to my bed – a two-day task – but with new material from Playamart, it is much better!)