More Life Experiences in a Military Lockdown of Six Months, One Week and Three Days

Nobody but nobody – except perhaps the Chinese – saw Covid-19 coming.

Nobody except donald trump knew what to do. Then he suggested that we inject bleach into our lungs as that would clean them.

Nobody except the 45th knows where it is going. And the 45th changes his mind at least twice a day after assuring the world that the virus would be gone by Easter so that everyone could go to church. Mind you, he didn’t say which year.

The Stages of Lock-Down

When Colombia locked down on 24 March 2020, it was sort of an adventure. The helicopters overhead 15 hours a day, the 19:00 curfew, having to carry identification papers with the right numbers at the end if you were on the street.

The schedules were posted for the week and people could only go out if it was their ‘day.’ Fortunately, I have three passports and a Canadian driver’s license, so there were very few times I actually couldn’t leave the house. Then one day I didn’t have an 8 or a 9 so I used my World Nomad travel card to get into the supermarket.

Only two people were allowed to be together. The helicopters would contact the police and they would break up the ‘group’ of three or four. Trying to have a backyard BBQ with a few friends? Good plan except that the police might kick down the front door.

Facemasks were made mandatory and even the street people wore them when they are sleeping rough. Many also opted for gloves. Only one person per household was allowed to shop. The line-up for the supermarkets was anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes. People had to stay two meters apart.

The police were out in full force and they checked people’s ID. Guards stood at the doors of the supermarkets and nobody could get in without the right number. Then they sprayed the bottoms of shoes, took your temperature, and made you use sanitary gel.

After a week everyone was over it. Then came the first two-week extension. Followed by another and yet another. Six months, three weeks, and one day is a long time. Although the quarantine is officially over, the police and military presence is the same.

Fortunately, I have a great place to live. Oh, and the rent is $300 a month, and that includes utilities and the internet.

Going Military

Then 42 days into the lockdown it was escalated to ‘military’. These are the soldiers with the AK-47/Kalashnikovs. Colombians know they shoot so most people take it seriously. In my bumbling Spanish, I asked if I could have a picture with a soldier and his gun. No problem.

In addition to the increased military presence, nobody was allowed out from 19:00 Friday until 06:00 Monday without a good reason. All public space was blocked off. So much for a jog in the park.

Two days after the military order was lifted on September 8, a few friends in Bogota were sitting outside having a beer – which is legal. The police said they weren’t the required distance apart. Two officers tasered one of them 18 times and he died.

Then the riots started all over the country – Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Santa Elena – immediately

My cell rang at about 19.30. ‘Where are you?’ asked Doña Luz, the woman who owns the hotel where I live, in a slightly hysterical tone.

‘I’m with Alvaro.’

‘You have to come home right now.’

Except for the lockdown and curfews, I don’t remember having to be home by 20:00 since I was about eight.

Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th were designated as official protest days all over the country. My ‘minders’ made sure that I didn’t go more than a couple of blocks away. The barrio is safe so I wasn’t worried. Some tourists seem to think that demonstrations and protests are tourist attractions.

Current Situation

My friend, Alvaro, commented ‘The quarantine is over, but you are still acting like we are in lockdown.’ He is right as I’m an illegal alien with no idea what is going to happen or when there will be a vaccine. Unnerving.

Still, my situation is easier than what a lot of people have to deal with. So I keep reminding myself of that and try not to whine.

Snippets from the Lockdown

Out After Curfew

On Day 50 I sort of lost it. I went to the shop on the corner and asked if I could sit on the little wall outside and drink rum. Andres who owns the place the told me it would be fine.

Ten minutes later two cops on a motorcycle drove up. Great, so there I was breaking all the rules. One guy walked down the street and talked on his cell for half an hour. The other went into the shop. Both totally ignored me. That was certainly an Insha’Allah.

A Sunday Evening Stroll

One Monday morning I woke with quite a decent-sized bruise on my forehead. A bit of a mystery as I didn’t have it when I went to bed.

When I went to the kitchen in the morning Doña Luz was in a total tizz. About 23:30 apparently, I had a little stint of somnambulism, more commonly known as sleepwalking.

Slowly the story pieced together but I had no recollection of it what-so-ever. Apparently, I took my carry-on suitcase from the top of the cupboard, which solves the mystery of the bruise. Then I packed my computer, cords, and a few other things. Next, I put on my zebra coat and went off to see the world.

Somewhere along that ramble I must have taken a tumble as my right hand was black, blue, purple, and about double in size. It has more or less mended with just a few twitches from time to time.

There are 1o stone stairs to the bottom after the platform so it could have been a serious mess. There is a big armchair so now I put it in front to protect another nose-dive.

My baby gate

The hotel has security cameras all over the place and Dona Luz also has them connected to her apartment. She called Liliana and told her to wake me and get me back to bed. The bad part is that I missed my adventure as I can’t remember a thing.

Shopping with Alex

My cousin, Lloyd, sent Alex some money for being such a helpful guide when he visited Medellin. Alex wanted to go to a ‘real’ butcher shop as the cheap stores don’t sell any decent meat. I had the ‘number’ for the day but only one person per household is allowed so I just waved Alex through.

So, I’m was sitting on a stool and the guard came up and said, ‘You’re from Canada. Saskatchewan.’ And he pronounced SK better than many Canadians. The next day I went back to the shop and gave him a Saskatchewan pin.

After I hurt my hand, I asked Luz Dare – the cleaner here — if she could help me lift something. She looked at my purple hand and said, ‘I can clean your room today.’ So I now have a weekly clean for about $12. When I told my mother that Luz Dare only works two days a week, her husband lost his job, and that they have two kids she agreed it was a good idea.

Patrick – an electrical engineer by training – is also a chef. We worked out a deal that I pay for the food and he does everything else. It costs about $6 a day – cough, cough –so we know who is getting the best advantage for that arrangement.

Omar parks his taxi in front of the corner store down the street. He is the kind of guy that would pick you up dead-drunk from some sleazy bar in Communa 13 at 03:15. Too bad I don’t have the stamina for those sorts of antics anymore. Sigh.