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  • Day82

    Covid-19 Quarantine - Week 2

    March 25 in Ecuador ⋅ ☀️ 75 °F

    This post may be a tad dry, but it's my daily notes on what's going on here at Izhcayluma Hostal in Vilcabamba while we are quarantined during the Covid-19 crisis. I figure I'll enjoy reading this years from now. We are safe and consider ourselves VERY lucky, especially since we were considering hunkering down in Guayas province, where 80% of the Ecuadorian cases are.

    All photos and vids are here.

    Friday March 20

    43 Spanish nurses and doctors are trapped in Guayaquil since the mayor blocked their plane out.

    260 infected and 4 dead in Ecuador as of last night.

    Loja province, ours, has 4 cases.

    It’s our 4th day here and nobody has any symptoms. I’m taking my temperature daily just to have a baseline.

    It’s 1:40 pm and I just found the Ecuadorian Health Dept. website with up to date stats at El Ministerio de Salud Pública del Ecuador (MSP) informa: Situación coronavirus 24-03-2020  Now there are 367 cases and 5 dead. 74% are in Guayas province.

    Saturday March 21

    426 infected, 7 dead

    Hostel is moving to 2 meals a day since the curfew in town is shortened to 7 pm to 5 am. That means they need to leave by 6:30. But the bar will be open since the bartender will be sleeping on the property. Whew!

    After 10 am today, the totals are 506 and 7 deaths.

    Sunday March 21

    Totals are 532 and 7 as of 5:00 yesterday. They are posting updated stats at 10 am and about 5 pm each day. Guayas still has 75% of the cases.

    Some Dutch and Americans are planning on leaving soon. They need to coordinate getting to Quito and then booking a charter flight with their embassy. We have ZERO intention of leaving.

    After 5 days here for us, nobody here has any symptoms.

    There have been roadblocks put up by some villages/towns. They were literally putting logs in the road to prevent traffic. The military was called out to remove those and they and local police are manning the roadblocks.  As of yesterday pm, the roads are all under government control. You need a pass to get through. Peter had a pass to drive the 35 minutes to Loja and went through 3 roadblocks and it took over an hour to get there. At least one cop had to call the chief of police of Vilcabamba to verify.

    The Ecuadorian Health Secretary just resigned. So did the Labor Secretary. No word on why, but I assume the stress got to the Health Secretary.

    New stats as of 1 pm: 789 and 14 deaths. Not flattening the curve yet, not by a longshot.

    An article in a Guayaqil paper (El Universo) said that in one barrio of Guayaquil, it was like a normal Saturday there, with people out and about, no masks or gloves, shops all open and lots of people walking and talking together. “That’s very Guayaquil” said Peter. The rest of the country seems to be taking it more seriously.

    Monday March 23

    789 and 14 in am

    An american who lives in Cuenca tried to leave to go home. He coordinated papers with a lawyer in Cuenca and hired a driver from there to pick him up. He couldn’t get through Loja yesterday and had to come back, even with legal papers to get him through.

    Several people have booked flights to home (Europe) but they have to figure out how to get to Cuenca.  Most are afraid of going through Quayaquil.

    Curfew in Guayaquil is 4 pm to 5 am, in the rest of the country, it’s 7 pm to 5 am.

    As of 10:30, the new numbers are 981 and 18.

    Tuesday March 24

    1,049 and 27 is the latest number. I don’t think they posted any data on Sunday, so this may be a 2 day jump in numbers.

    President Morena just announced a nationwide curfew of 2 pm to 5 am, starting tomorrow! Ouch. Our staff here that cook for us will have to leave by 1pm so we may have to cook for ourselves now. I’m sure Peter will call a meeting soon to discuss.

    We had an 11:30 am meeting today. Three people made it to Quito for a flight out to Europe.  Also, the German embassy is coordinating evacuating EU citizens on several flights from Quito to Frankfurt.  Alas, Brits are not eligible now. No real word from the US embassy for Tim and Denise, who are dying to get back to Madison.

    Peter said to expect to stay here for a couple months if you don’t get out now.

    We paid our first weekly bill. All food, drinks, lodging, and yoga was $610/week for both of us. That’s about $87/day. We consider it a huge bargain because we’ve had several drinks in the bar and the occasional bottle of wine with dinner. Peter is not charging for yoga or breakfast even though there’s no reason not too. Peter and Raik are so good to us.

    Not sure how dinner is going to work now. There is PLENTY of food here and in the markets; no run on anything in the country. However, staff need to be home by curfew. The fines for being out after curfew are huge, like one month’s wage for a 2nd offense. Recidivists face jail time.

    I took my first yoga class today at 7 am with Deanne. It wasn’t as hard as I thought.  It was a good hour of stretching and I enjoyed it. They offer yoga twice a day but I’ll try to stick to the am session for now.

    I’ve been doing laps at the pool and pushups and situps. What else am I going to do?

    On that note, I’ve been reading a LOT of novels since we are no longer traveling.  One of our two e-readers broke though. It was a little wonky after I left it in the rain at Yellowstone last year. After Deanne left it in the hot sun for a couple hours here, it was DOA.  We’ll share our one good ereader and Deanne has also found a small library here with real books.

    Thank god I bought a new Chromebook when in New Orleans. It’s super fast and we have several movies/TV shows we can watch. Even though there’s a big TV in the bar with Satellite TV, I don’t feel like hanging out with a group of people each night.

    It’s been 8+ days with the same people and no symptoms with anyone!

    Colin, the Irishman, and an American woman are still in isolation here since they passed through Guayaquil last week. 7 more days to go for them.

    Wednesday March 25

    1562 and 28 deaths as of 10:30

    Peter held a meeting last night and said he got permission from the police to get an exemption from the 2 pm curfew for his cooks. The police will drive them to their houses when the dinner shift is over. It only costs 2 six packs of Corona and some chairs, which oddly, the police station is short of!

    We said our goodbyes to Stina from Denmark, Chris from the US who lives in Cuenca but is going to the US to visit his mother, and an older German woman who wants to stay, but needs to get back to her 92 year old mother. They leave this morning for Cuenca and will try to get to Quito tomorrow during the short non-curfew hours.

    The US embassy sent all US citizens in Ecuador an email saying they are coordinating evacuation flights tomorrow and Friday. Flights are from Quito to Miami and should cost the average price before the virus hit. They are making people sign promissory notes to pay the US government back. No credit cards or cash accepted!  This is different than the German flights which seem to be costing a lot more and payments must be made up front. However, the US is not coordinating land travel to the airport in Quito. Roadblocks could still be a problem, even if you have a pass. In rural areas, locals are putting boulders, logs, etc. in the roads to block traffic, despite local police and military policies. Peter said this is a normal type of reaction in Ecuador.  Again, we are staying put and are happy to be here, even if it’s for a couple months.

    Ecuador has a slightly higher population than Illinois. I’m comparing Ecuador’s cases and deaths with them now.  The confirmed cases is about the same, but the death rate is much higher here, for now. The US is still not taking drastic measures, and instead seems to be taking baby steps.  I think it’s going to get pretty bad there, but I hope I’m wrong. If you want to know what it will be like in the US 2 weeks from now, look at what’s happening in Italy and Spain now. A friend of ours just flew into Chicago from Ethiopia and Somaliland and passed right through customs and immigration - no questions asked, no temperature readings, nothing.  This is a problem.

    It’s day 2 of yoga for me, and it feels great. Alas, we’re not studying Spanish as everyone here except the staff are speaking English. The staff are too busy to converse with, except maybe the bartender but we’re trying not to spend too much time there.
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