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  • Writer's pictureKen

Life and whatnot...

Updated: May 31, 2020

We’ve now been quarantined for 48 days. Honestly, that sounds like the first sentence in some kind of apocalyptic novel. Yesterday the military was outside of our building, checking ID’s as people left. Thankfully they got bored and went somewhere else eventually. Technically, we’re only allowed out one morning a week, depending on the last number of your ID card. Isabel’s day is Monday and mine is Wednesday. In the early days of the quarantine, it felt like a big deal to get the key from the guard, to take our garbage out the back gate to the bin on the street. I would stand there for a moment, breathe deeply and just enjoy the sunshine and peace and quiet. I get that technically the air and sunshine on our balcony is the same air and sunshine at street level....but street level air and sunshine is the air and sunshine of freedom. So there's a difference.

As time has gone on, enforcement of the quarantine has gotten a little more hit and miss. Lots of days, the authorities don’t pay that much attention in the morning to who’s out and about (if you’re walking or biking…still no driving). I’ve gone over to the guys’ house a couple of extra times and we usually go each day or so, to the little market set up in the parking lot of the park across the street.

Overall, Bolivia has done fairly well "flattening the curve”. Unfortunately, the worst area for the spread of the virus in Bolivia has been here in Santa Cruz. AND the worst area in Santa Cruz for spreading the virus is in the north where we live. One of the worst neighbourhoods is actually the neighbourhood where the guys live. That was a bit sobering for them, I think. City officials closed all ninety of the markets around Santa Cruz and just left the main eight open. But eventually they had to close those as well. All of the towns around the city have also barricaded themselves and aren’t letting in any outsiders, even if they have authorization. It's a strange time...

Yesterday, one of the guys who used to live with us called to say that his older brother has been confirmed to have Covid. He’s been sick for a while and I’m sure has spread it to everyone else living in the house with him (eleven people). He's in the hospital and stable now, but he was pretty sick. Ruddy said that the city has quarantined their house. On Tuesday we’re going to take some supplies to them. Isabel has permission to drive as of last week, because she works for a national energy company and they started up again. She only works three days a week, so that will leave a couple of extra days for us to run groceries out to some of the families we’ve been trying to help.

At one point, Ruddy was headed over to the house to visit the guys, but I told him no and sent him home again. So...we came fairly close to infecting the household. I’m sure the guys would have been fine, but still…there are a lot of health issues that come with living in a developing nation and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Of course, this is an example of the challenges here (and in a lot of places I’m sure). Ruddy was surprised when I told him that he couldn’t go to the house. He was quite sure that he didn’t have the virus. Until, of course, he did… He and his family have been baking bread to sell in the mornings out on the street, to make some money. I'm sure that has resulted in a few more cases as well.

Overall, our guys have done fairly well with no authority figures in the house. Early on there were a

couple of bumps in the road, but as time went on, they started taking more ownership of the house. The chores are (mostly) done and the house and their rooms are (mostly) clean. They even took on a few projects along the way. I encouraged them to try to be productive with their time and not just play Free Fire on their phones all day. I have no doubt that they’re an elite little fighting force at this point, but I’m glad that’s not all they’ve been doing.

Our quarantine has been extended until a week from Monday. At that point we’ll find out what the next phase is going to be. The government has released three versions of our next steps: Moderate…play nice and don’t get too close to each other and we’ll let life more or less go back to normal; Medium…you didn’t play nice and you got too close to each other and now most of you will continue to be stuck indoors. But we’ll let you order in pizza; or Extreme…THE FLOOR IS LAVA! You people are fools!! The virus is still spreading like crazy and no one will ever be allowed out again! And definitely no pizza.

So we’ll see....

At any rate, here are some pictures for you to enjoy. Thanks for your prayers and support! We appreciate it.

Thanks everyone!

The market set up in the park across the street from our apartment building.

Quiet streets and overgrown parks on my bike ride home from the guys' house.

Prayer time with the guys.

Enjoying the mini-couch that Rodrigo made out of a pallet. He sewed the cushion covers by hand.

Enjoying more salteñas Ken bought frozen off of a truck.

Having Sandro over for breakfast on his morning out of the house.

Salteñas are always good. Salteñas are AMAZING when you haven't had them

for six weeks.

I sent Sandro to buy pop and he forgot to give me back my change. He sent me this picture and said that after six weeks of not working, 80 bs (about $10) felt like a million dollars!

One of the problems with cell phones is that everyone has a camera. The guys see it as their mission to get "good" pictures of me. In this picture I think I was...ahem...patiently correcting one of the guy's misconceptions on something or other.

And finally...the guys made us peanut soup for lunch on Saturday.

It was very tasty and it was good to spend time with them.

If you look closely, you can see there are still some interesting haircuts floating around.

Thankfully others have returned to normal.

And that's currently life in Bolivian...

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