Thursday, April 23 – On the Inside Looking Out

By Josette BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

I don’t know what day it is anymore. The body is starting to suffer the repercussions of a cooped-up mind – a cooped-up being. My system is all weird – nightmares, thoughts, irregular sleep patterns, demotivation, and mania.

I think that after this, all zoos should be demolished – every animal should be set free.

It is amazing, when you think about it, how many things we took for granted: a simple walk down the street, standing in a line, taking a bus, going to see someone, going somewhere…anywhere. What I wouldn’t give for a hug…

The new fashion trend

Welcome to the year 2020, where the fashion trend is how funky your mask is.

As an asthmatic, going outside has become a completely stressful, unpleasant, and anxiety-ridden experience. I cannot stress the fact of how awful it is, and I didn’t think it would get this bad. Where I live, we have little neighborhood supermarkets that have all the basic foodstuffs you could need except for fresh products. Having three of these little supermarkets within a 2-block radius of my apartment is extremely useful. HOWEVER – it is not useful anymore! Let me elaborate.

In contrast to the areas surrounding the Federal Capital and the other provinces, the city of Buenos Aires decided to make wearing face masks mandatory as soon as you step outside your door. Fantastic – because, I tell you that until that rule was established, there were too many people, especially elderly people, wandering around without them. I, like a good member of society, started wearing a mask even before the quarantine was declared to protect others from me more than anything else (I am also a ball of allergies). I remember how people would stare at me. 

I have to say that despite the rule being established on mandatory face masks, one person out of every ten still wanders around without wearing anything. “Oh, the police aren’t going to catch me,” they say, or, “I’m not going very far,” or even, “nothing’s going to happen to me.” Not to mention that for some reason, wearing face masks means “oh, we are all safer now since I’m wearing a mask, and you’re wearing a mask, so I’ll come to stand beside you or directly behind you anyway.” The lack of social distancing makes me extremely uncomfortable, what are they thinking? “Let me pass directly beside you on the sidewalk while you’re waiting in line,” or “look at me lowering my mask with my hands to smoke a cigarette or talk on the phone.” Oh, isn’t it nice to be so relaxed about it? The fine is now 80,000 pesos for not wearing a mask (that’s about $1,700 CAD).

No social distancing here

This brings me back to the beginning of this rant. Being asthmatic and seeing that even though we all have to wear face masks – IT’S NOT HELPING!

I was in the little supermarket when an elderly man rushed past me (right next to me as the aisles are very narrow) instead of going around by way of another aisle. I said to him, “excuse me, but you cut in line, and you are too close to me.” I realized that it would have been too late, and I would have been infected anyway. He then proceeded to try and make it up to me when he realized he was in the wrong by asking me about the white flour he had in his hands and if it was the right flour to make pizza. Really? It is not the time to butter me up.

Example of a little supermarket (narrow aisles)

In that same little supermarket, there is a greengrocer, so I picked up some veggies. A woman came and stood directly behind me, and I literally turned around and said to her, “could you back up please and keep your distance? I’m asthmatic,” to which she immediately understood and backed up.

My point is: Do I have to wear a sign around my neck that says, “respect social distancing”? Do I have to tell everyone that I’m asthmatic? You never know who around you can have a respiratory issue – respect social distancing. So, what am I supposed to do? As the season has changed and it is now autumn, it’s prime time for me to have a bronchial flare-up. I usually get bronchitis or something similar around this time.

So, this happened two days ago, and how am I doing?

Well, I am down to the last of my food and have no money, so I desperately need to go out – but cannot do it. I’m too scared (delivery…you might be wondering…that’s a bit complicated for me here, and that will have to be detailed at a later moment).

I know that in other places, there are tributes to health service workers and professionals and different authoritative positions that are trying to help diffuse this pandemic. Here too. Every night at 9pm, everyone stands on their balconies and claps. A wonderful thing to be a part of – I used to be a part of it. The negative side? Well – those who do not want those health service professionals coming home to their apartments at night. They leave notes for them not to come back – a doctor who contracted the virus had her car torched by her neighbors, encouraging her not to come home. She wasn’t wanted there. 

By the way, remember how a couple of weeks ago, there was this issue with all the elderly people going to the banks to get their pensions and retiree benefits, etc.? They broke quarantine, did not respect social distancing rules, and weren’t wearing personal protective items? Well, the virus is now sweeping through nursing homes and residences. Just yesterday alone, 19 people in one old-age residence tested positive for the virus. It’s so unfortunate that the government did not anticipate this issue.

Non-violent prisoners shall be sent home to avoid COVID-19 outbreaks in jail

Additionally, they have been trying to remove prisoners from prisons and place them under house arrest – and in other prisons, there are protests where they have not taken the same action. COVID-19 would have a hay day in the prison system. I hope they do something soon for these people.

Argentina has always been unstable economically-speaking. A time of pandemic that affects the whole world (and here I thought the Olympics was the only thing that really united us) and the inflation has skyrocketed. The blue dollar has returned (the black-market dollar), which has a difference of over 40 cents between this blue and the official. Since there is no control over inflation, merchants can charge what they want. At least the rents can’t be raised for now – they made sure to put a damper on that possibility early.

Josette – Quarantine Sessions – What day is it?

Every country will have its pros and cons. The good and the bad and the ugly. It’s wonderful to see the measures that ARE being taken. In essence, centers being established with beds and supplies for the anticipation of peak times or the fact that no one is rushing to end the quarantine quickly as the health of people here is more important. So, there are positive notes. But I feel like this thing has brought a lot of “true colors” in terms of people and their behavior, helping your fellow man and whatnot. 

My friend is doing some volunteer work where she has offered to pick up groceries for senior citizens and call them to check up on them. I can’t imagine how it must be for people who are alone during all of this – I’m alone too, but I do have my cat.

I can only hope that at some point, the seriousness of the matter kicks in, and people realize that they HAVE to stay at home; they HAVE to protect themselves. Or this may just continue – the future is so uncertain. Are you waving at the future? I am.