Pandemic? What pandemic? (Also Father's Day)
Updated: May 31, 2020
Well, it's possible the above title reflects some frustration on my part. Here in Bolivia, we're in the early stages of Corona 19. The latest count puts us at fifteen cases. For most people there's a sense of concern because of what we're seeing take place in the rest of the world (especially Spain where a large number of Bolivians live), but also a sense of, "Well, it's not bad here, so we'll probably be fine."
I see it everywhere I go. At church on Sunday, everyone was greeting each other with the traditional kiss on the cheek and hug. At the grocery stores people still stand in line right behind the person in front of them (personal space here is vastly different than in Canada). People are sort of wearing masks, but most of the time they're half off or have actually been homemade (not that masks are helpful).
The government is trying to figure out what to do, but the messages are mixed at best. The governor's office (our local government) says one thing and then is nearly immediately contradicted by our national government. As it stands now, universities and schools are closed (they say until the end of the month). People are still working, but shorter days. Everyone is off work at 1 PM...grocery stores/restaurants/markets stay open until 3 PM and then public transportation shuts down at 5 PM and everyone is supposed to be in their houses until the next morning. Borders will close completely tomorrow.
I'm trying not to be negative, but I suspect that Bolivia is going to get hammered. We were just watching the news, and they were reporting that many of the markets are functioning normally (full and busy). The work day is shorter, but people are still interacting with each other and having to ride public buses. People are using handsanitizer, but I imagine not as often or thoroughly as they should.
Like many countries before us, it seems people think of this as a crisis that's affecting other countries, but won't be as bad here. Sadly, we may get the same wake up that other countries have gotten The biggest concern in my mind, is that our medical system isn't nearly up to the task. We have some good hospitals and clinics here, but they often stagger under the weight of our annual Dengue season (many are still full of people recovering from Dengue). The question is, what happens when people sick from the Coronavirus begin arriving? Many hospitals/clinics are not well stocked at the best of times, so shortages of medical supplies are likely as well.
Well...I'm done I'm venting a bit. But you know, as I read about Italy and Spain (similar cultures to us in many ways), I definitely feel concerned. I think the lesson that many countries have learned is that drastic measures need to be taken to contain or even just slow down the virus. I'm not sure we understand that here. When our local government announced a quarantine, many people here pushed back fairly hard.
For us personally, life continues in this new normal. Chores, soccer, games on their phones...the guys are staying entertained. =) We stocked up earlier in the week, so we're good in that area as well. We've also talked with the guys a lot about hand washing and maintaining distance from the people around them. Yesterday I took some of the guys and got some plants for my balcony. We stopped for ice cream at the ice cream place in my building and then had to scramble to get everything finished before the 5 PM curfew. Today is Father's Day, so the guys made me a big lunch and Isabel showed up with donuts for all of us.
We would appreciate your prayers! None of us knows exactly what the future holds, but we're holding strong to God's promise that we haven't been given a spirit of fear. We'll do our best and trust in God for the rest. =)
Thanks for your prayers and thoughts!