If you’re going to be locked down anywhere there may be fewer more interesting places to choose than Peru – but lock-down is lock-down, no matter how breathtaking the scenery and charismatic the people.
I have been watching with interest the journey of drummer and musician Aaron Meli on facebook in recent days.
He is a frequent traveller in the Andes and man of great charm.
He speaks with huge fondness for the Peruvian people and the welcome they generally extend.
But fear is gripping the country and it’s having its effect.
Writing on DAY 9 of the Peruvian lockdown Aaron said that a normally friendly country had become quite hostile.
“Today I cycled from Pisac to Lamay,” he wrote, “which is a 14 km ride one way.
“I sneezed whilst riding my bike and got the stinkeye from the a local couple who started to question where my mask was (it was in my pocket whilst I was riding).”
Then when he got back to town, having done his shopping he sat on the riverbank drinking water and eating cacao as the police walked by.
“We were shouted at by a local couple peering over the fence,” he said, “‘ get out of here, we don’t want your virus’ they hollered.
“I’ve always found Peruvian people very friendly but I’m starting to feel the heat of being a gringo here right now.”
And he’s not alone.
A recent article in the Boston Herald told the story of two 28 year olds, also stuck in Peru.
Nick Terzian and his friend Stephen Loder are reporting a strict curfew where the police are raiding hostels and confiscating alcohol.
“We all would like to be home and be near our loved ones,” Terzian told the Herald in a series of email exchanges from his hotel in Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes.
“This country, I think, made one of the more aggressive moves quickly.” Terzian told the Herald in a series of emails from his hotel in Cusco. “It went from bars and restaurants open to having the military/police in the street not allowing people outside.” It’s an approach that has kept the virus’ impact on the country very small so far.
“We’re not on vacation here anymore — we’re just stuck inside the same way a huge portion of the world population is at this exact moment. The biggest difference is that we’re quarantined 4,000 miles from home, without a clear idea of how or when we’ll get back,” said Loder.
Of course, we will come through the pandemic. What is not yet clear os what will have changed.
Some things will have altered for the good. Maybe we will be more reserved and conservative.
But even in the midst of the the biggest social and health challenge in living memory we are still finding some joy. Picture the pleasure behind the photograph of Aaron Melismas, on the back of a Lama with a fellow musician… bizarre, and heart-warming!
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