Friday, June 12 – Hoping For Change

By Josette BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Dear world,

Well – almost three months of “strict” quarantine…and counting.
They say that the quarantine may continue until September (yep, you heard it right – six months of quarantine) in order to “skip” winter.
Sadly, it’s true – the coming of the chillier weather has brought a spike in cases. Yet certain activities are being made flexible anyway? How does that work? This past week, the government decided to allow running and walking in local parks (not more than five blocks from your home, but it’s not like they check) from 8 pm-8 am. So, what does that look like?

This.

Apparently, there were thousands of people that took to the parks to get some exercise. I’m sure most people use it as an excuse not to have to be at home for a little bit.
I’ve been thinking about going for a walk at least, but I’m not gonna lie – the idea of having to avoid this many people while trying to do something that is supposed to relax me really doesn’t appeal to me. If walking four blocks to go to the bank machine stresses me out, I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel trying to walk a few times around the park and avoid people.
The other issue: Dengue.
So dengue has now arrived in neighboring neighborhoods. The mosquitoes are really bad. They are biting like crazy, and I have super sweet blood. I literally was outside my building for 10 minutes, and I was bitten three times. Everyone is talking about coronavirus and forgetting that dengue is also carrying its own death toll. There is not enough mosquito repellant in the world to prevent me from getting bitten – perhaps if I had a hazmat suit….

There is so much more dog poop on the streets these days. While it being a general characteristic of Buenos Aires city in general, it appears that the quarantine has amplified people’s laziness in cleaning up after their pets. You can imagine what an obstacle course it is, especially in autumn…
Your challenge: is it just a leaf? Or is it a leaf with a surprise underneath? Keep your head up, so you don’t come to close to other people when walking. But, also keep your head down so you don’t step in anything you shouldn’t. Complicated.

The President is contemplating taking us back to phase 1 – absolute quarantine – given that yesterday there were over 1200 new cases in one day. This is the highest number of cases in a day so far. Yet, there has been some relaxation of measures. Yesterday, when I went to the bank machine, I saw clothing stores and shoe stores open now (not like I want to go in there). And, as I mentioned earlier, the running and walking in the parks now. Shut it all down!

Quarantine? What quarantine? Look at all the people in the above photo.

I have seen so much violence on the news lately – both here and in the world. Aside from the world movement against racism, there are other issues that are closer to home. Petty crimes here are becoming violent. Given that everyone is in quarantine and “at home,” you have to be even more diligent if you arrive home at certain hours as the risk of someone surprising you at your front door is quite high. People are stealing car batteries since people aren’t using their cars. People are being robbed returning from grocery stores. One woman was dragged by her hair on a motorcycle because the guy tried to rob her, and she fell, and her hair got caught in the wheel. Horrible!

I am continuing onward with my search for a different place to live. While moving during quarantine is really not boding well for my anxiety, I seriously don’t think I can make it where I am until September. The new neighbor next door has been torturing me using blenders at 7:30 am on Sunday mornings and screaming at her child at midnight. I am busy with organizing (purging 10.5 years of stuff), working, and cooking. This week, I made chickpea curry for the first time. Man, was that tasty:

It’s hard knowing that a lot of the world is establishing its new normal while, here, even though the quarantine happened early and it was strict, it’s going to end up being the longest. And it’s not about being able to go out and see friends and be social. In my case, I just want to be able to have the freedom again to change the air I’m breathing (i.e., take my work to a café). I never realized how much changing my atmosphere affected my productivity. I have moments where anything can happen just to shut me down.
A friend from Spain told me that at first, it’s hard going outside again and going to places because you get used to being at home and being by yourself. She explained to me the crippling anxiety that she has, but promised me it gets better.
I am still scared to go outside, really. Today, for the first time in 3 months, I am going to walk to go and see an apartment. It will be a 4km walk in total. I’m looking forward to it and also extremely nervous. The positive thing is that I can keep to residential streets, which isn’t so bad.
I worry about my family and friends in other places – but maybe I need to worry about myself a little bit.

Be okay.

Josette