This post was written while in quarantine on March 23, 2020.
As the COVID-19 pandemic explodes and worsens worldwide, most countries are taking drastic measures to mitigate the spread and destruction of the virus. On March 15, 2020, President Vizcarra declared a 15-day quarantine. Since then, he has also announced a curfew from 8:00pm until 5:00am.
Currently, we are on day eight of the quarantine, and a lot has happened. My study abroad program has shut down all of its programs abroad, and we will be sent home as soon as possible. Unfortunately, due to the quick decision of the President to close Perú’s borders, we were not able to change our flights in time. Therefore, we will most likely leave when the quarantine is up (first week of April). On the bright side, we will remain with our host families until further notice.
Although they haven’t been the worst days of my life, the past eight days in quarantine have been difficult and very stressful. I am a person that very much likes to be in control of every situation. I hate uncertainty and changed plans, and this pandemic has swooped in and took control over every aspect of my life right now. My emotions are scattered all over the place, and my anxiety is out of this world. I am constantly on edge waiting to hear from my program about what their next move is.
Staying in the house for a long period of time has definitely been a challenge. We are only able to leave to go to the supermarket, the bank or the pharmacy. Even more surprising are the police officers scattered on every street corner to check your identification and purpose for leaving the house. They even ask for your address to make sure you aren’t traveling farther than needed. I left the house on day six when I couldn’t stand being inside anymore. I was even more distraught to see how apocalyptic it looked outside. Cusco is usually a bustling city, but it was empty and eerily quiet. The people who were out wore face masks or some type of mouth and nose covering since the supermarkets require one to enter. Additionally, they check your temperature as you enter and spray your hands with sanitizer. Although it was nerve-wrecking going outside to a completely different world, getting some fresh air and walking around definitely helped to improve my mood for the day.
Additionally, being stuck in the house isn’t all bad. My host family and I have really gotten to know each other a lot better. I am also really glad that they have a sense of humor about the situation. It helps me to stay grounded. Since quarantine started, we decided que vamos a dedicarnos a engordar (we are dedicating ourselves to fattening ourselves up). Most days we make food, eat the food, and then rest. Recently, I’ve been trying to find other things to do during the rest period to keep myself from going crazy.
The point is, I am extremely bummed that my trip was cancelled. The situation that we are in isn’t ideal, but we should try to make the most out of the time and the people we are with. I am dedicating my time to reading more, spending time with my host family, light exercise in my room, and remaining in contact with others in my program. Use this time to do stuff you love or to learn something new!
Take care of yourselves during this difficult time!