Reality as we knew it just a few days ago is standing on its head, as we all look around like deer in headlights to decipher our responses.
Puerto Rico’s response has been more drastic than that of the States, for good reason, and the last 24 hours has been a wild ride.
Yesterday, in one fell swoop, we were put on mandatory curfew and restricted movement. Every business that is not essential was ordered to close starting at 6 pm, and penalties have been laid out for non-compliance. This executive order from the Governor was sent out to schools and businesses yesterday morning, in Spanish. The only place I could find info about it in English was via Twitter and David Begnaud‘s twitter feed (he’s a CBS reporter who has been my main source of WTH is going on here). I never thought I’d be using Twitter as my main source of news, but it’s the best place for information in the Upside Down – who knew? Needless to say, my understandings of the new reality came piece by piece, and it made for a wild roller coaster ride of a day.
First, I understood that we would be under curfew from 9 pm – 5 am, island wide. I took this to be helpful in that the partying in close quarters would have to stop by 9 pm – reasonable, I guessed.
A little while later, I learned via tweet that non-essential businesses were to be shut down starting at 6 pm every day. So, we wouldn’t be able to get a pizza and the yunguns wouldn’t be able to spend the evenings at bars and restaurants partying and mingling and coughing on each other. Made sense.
Later in the day, Brooks informed me that the non-essential businesses were to be shut down COMPLETELY, starting at 6 pm that day. I lost that tidbit in the Twitter translation. When I understood it, I was like – whoa. OK.
So . . . at this point, I understood that the kids would not be going to school, and we wouldn’t be able to walk up the hill and order an empanadilla, or get a rum punch at the beach bar before the sunset for the next two weeks minimum. Alright.
I went out to walk the beach before the sun went down, and my phone was blasted with:
Through the evening, I was trying to process what this meant for us, and talking to B about what that looked like for our family, while trying not to say anything freaky in front of the kids. We were mostly just a bit stunned when we went to bed. Then, as I was trying to shut these thoughts out and fall asleep, I read this:
I did what David said and read the English version, and of course he was right: we are not allowed to go outside at all for any reason other than to acquire essential items or in the case of an emergency. No going to the beach, or even out for a walk. No one can leave the house. The penalties for insubordination are steep and costly. Here is the gist in those last two pages if you care to read it:
I fell asleep like someone hit me over the head. And here we are this morning, wondering what to do, and how long to wait to decide? I’m concerned that if we wait too long, we won’t have a choice to make.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the regulations are wise, considering how fast this thing spreads and how terribly this little island could be overrun by an outbreak. The medical system here is already challenged (to put it nicely), and everyone knows that once we’re at capacity, no help will come from anywhere. Once we’re out of ICU/critical care beds, there will be no where else to go. Once the oxygen/intubation supplies are gone, they’re gone and we will get no more. The people here have been in the situation of need many times, and been chronically ignored. So, of course, drastic measures need to be taken to stop the spread on this tiny island. Just think, in one month, the spread in Italy went from 3 cases to over 15,000.
If this level of spread happened in Puerto Rico, people would probably be dying in the streets. Don’t get me started on the fact that the government here was letting cruise ships full of tourists dock in San Juan and run around town up until two days ago – which means we’re definitely having an outbreak. Nevertheless, smart decisions are being made now, and the island is moving forward.
That brings us back to what to do for our little family? Current random thoughts:
- Staying here if there is an inflation of infections will be bad. Puerto Rico is not the place to be during an emergency, and even if it were – I, personally, want to be with my people during times of crisis and tumult.
- If we wait too long to try to leave – the government might say we can’t travel, and we won’t be able to go. Not to mention the fact that traveling on an airplane/Petri dish of infections is probably a terrible idea. As this thing grows and spreads, would it be safer to travel now, or later? (Assuming travel is an option).
- If we tried to go home, then what? Where would we live? There are people renting our house, and although I don’t think they’ll be renting for much longer (they’ve already had trouble paying bills on time), we won’t have a home for a while. We have parents, friends, and sisters to stay with (thankfully). But how long can that last if we all end up quarantined in one house? Do we want to put ourselves in the position of possibly being quarantined in a house with the kids in someone else’s space? I know it’s better than the alternative, but that will be a special kind of fun.
- I don’t want to get stuck here.
- Does anyone back home have enough toilet paper for us?
It’s a crazy world in a crazy time, and it will change by the time I post this. Yet, I know it’s a luxury for me to be able to make these decisions in health, and I am grateful.
With all the love on the little Island of Puerto Rico . . . be well.
P.S. We just decided to try to come home. More info soon.