Today is Day 70 of isolation here in Loja, Ecuador. Like most of the world, Loja is beginning to open up, slowly. Yesterday, our restriction status went from red (strict restrictions) to yellow (relaxed restrictions) and a later curfew from 2:00pm to 9:00pm. Everyone is still required to wear a mask when outside and gloves for entry into supermarkets and banks. In the news the fixation has been on Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca, the larger cities. Smaller cities and those not dependent upon tourism have fared better than most others in Ecuador.
I remember during the HIV crises of the eighties everyone had to be more conscious of sexual partners as we were not only having sex with one person but with everyone they had had sex with during the last six months. It took thousands of deaths for this reality to strike home. Aids was looked upon as an African or homosexual disease until it started entering the homes of middle class white Americans. Like so many others, I was surprised by the rapid spread to those models of society, movie stars, musicians, artists, and the family next door and spread it did. The difference between Aids and CoVid-19 was in our degree of choice. With Aids most individuals had a choice to engage in sex, or protected sex, or to abstain altogether. This was true except for the many spouses who believed their partners were sexually faithful only to learn they were closet homosexuals, kept a regular schedule with those in the sex trades or were having an affair. They had no choice.
The choices we have with the CoVid-19 virus are similar and different. We must remain conscious of the fact we are engaging not only with every person in front of us, next to us, behind us, or sharing the same space as us but also every person they have been in contact with over the last two weeks. And, more importantly, there is no way of knowing this information before hand. Many of the carriers of the CoVid-19 virus are asymptomatic. We only know after the fact. With Aids, questions about ones sexual history became a common opening conversation piece. We cannot know beforehand if an individual is asymptomatic or not. In most cases they themselves do not know.
So two long months ago I gave up my three daily walks. Now I do maybe one or two a week to include the bank and groceries. As I put on my latex gloves, pull and tie my face mask over my nose and mouth, I ask myself one very important question. Is this trip worth dying for? In order for me to go out that door I must accept possible infection as a possible consequence of my action. It’s hard being human sometimes especially when you are a Black male over 70 human who loves this life he is living. So bucking the odds but fully conscious of the possibilities, I open the door and step out…
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing I can do—
determined to save
the only life I can save.