What are the shelter-in-place conditions like in Cotacachi in April 2020?
I am very concerned about the way some of the main stream press is portraying the conditions in Ecuador showing dead bodies on the streets, and claiming Ecuador is in very bad shape. I can say that from our personal experience we are not suffering here. It is important to note that Funeral Homes in Guayaquil have been closed so provisions for picking up bodies were initially not established. Please read the comments of the Foreign Minister of Ecuador in this article. https://cuencahighlife.com/the-tragedy-of-guayaquil-and-what-it-tells-us-about-the-coronavirus-pandemic/
I obviously can’t travel around the country but I can say that the conditions in Cotacachi are not distressing. As far as I know there have been only 2 confirmed cases of the virus in Cotacachi. You can find updates on cases in Cotacachi at http://cotahealth.org/covid19/ We have friends in Cuenca who also report that the situation there is calm and there are no problems with safety or availability of food. My husband went to Ibarra last week and the large chain supermarket there was well stocked. Before entering the store he was sprayed with disinfectant and his shoes were also disinfected. A limited number of people were allowed inside at one time. There were 4 checkpoints that he went through along the Panamerican Highway between Cotacachi and Ibarra, where his car was sprayed. Coming back into Cotacachi there was a checkpoint at the entrance to town where the car got sprayed down yet again.
Food is plentiful
The local grocery store is open, the number of people in the store is limited and before going inside people are sprayed down with disinfectant. In our community of Cotacachi there are also deliveries from our local merchants. We can order fresh organic meat products, bread, organic vegetables, and fruit from the Mercado delivered several days a week right to our gate. The farmers who are delivering to us are from the local organic vegetable farms and also merchants I have written about in the past. You can read about them here and here.
The delivery system has been very advantageous since it has made it possible for the people that we usually buy our food from are able to sell their products during the restrictions. It has been a win/win for all of us and it helps us feel connected to our community. It has made me very aware of how grateful I am for the people who grow my food and for the relationship that I have with them. When I compare this to my shopping experience in the US at a large grocery store chain it almost makes me tear up because the experience here in Cotacachi is so very personal and mutually appreciated.
Just as in other countries, everyday living is regulated by various rules that define how social interaction can occur.
Currently we have a system that allows for going out for necessities such as food, medicine, medical appointments, and paying bills or going to the bank. The system is based on the last number of the national ID card or pass port. There is also a different rule regulating driving. Cars are permitted on the road for necessary trips based on the last digit of the car license plate. When one ventures out in the Cotacachi canton you are required to wear a face mask and gloves and of course, stay 6 feet away from others. The hours that people and cars are able to circulate are from 5 AM until 2 PM. These rules are enforced by police officers and one can be fined for disobeying these curfew hours.
Currently there is no face to face work allowed except for the banks and the larger grocery stores and pharmacies. However, that rule is gradually being relaxed based on the nature of the work and the work setting. For example, if workers have outside work and they choose to work they can work during the hours designated. The people who work for us have begun returning to work since they work outdoors. They must be home again by 2 PM.
Some of the small tiendas will open by special arrangement. For example, tomorrow, my day out, I will go to the Natural products store and purchase organic oils and other products I use from my friend who owns the store. Although there have been restrictions on work, employees have not been terminated during the lock down and they have been able to receive pay if the employer was able to pay them. Some employees were able to use vacation pay to extend their incomes while businesses have been closed. They are guaranteed to have their jobs waiting for them when normal working conditions resume.
Since the requirement is that when out in public everyone is required to wear a face mask, industrious people have made masks and offered them for sale to the public. So far there is no firm regulation on how the masks are made. In general people are going along with the guidelines and the streets are very empty after 2 PM. In the local enclosed neighborhoods such as ours we move about without masks and visit with each other since we do not go out into the public much and no one has been sick. The Indigenous communities have also closed their roads so no through traffic is allowed and I understand that within the communities they do not wear masks. We feel very fortunate that we have nice grounds to walk around in which has helped us to feel less confined.
Ecuador closed its borders to all international travel on March 15 but we feel safe here.
Since that date there have been no commercial airlines flying into or out of Ecuador other than the flights that the Ecuadorian government arranged for citizens and residents to return home and the flights arranged by other foreign Embassies to fly their citizens back to their home countries.
As of this date (April 20) there are still no international flights out of Quito or Guayaquil. This has resulted in a surreal feeling of being cut off from the outside world and it has been alarming to many people who have friends and families in other countries. A sad illustration of this is my neighbor’s brother died in Canada and he is not able to travel there for the funeral and to grieve with the family. This is quite a strong dose of confinement that none of us have ever experienced in the past and is for me the worst aspect of dealing with the lock down.
Should we stay or should we go?
Having the borders closed and dealing with the restrictions on travel around the country made us reconsider whether we wanted to stay in Ecuador. Being separated from friends and families in other countries has been very sobering and actually kind of frightening. This feels like too much restriction, although the reasons for it are understood, as Ecuador is trying to protect its citizens and the somewhat fragile health care system. Other countries have imposed similar restrictions so Ecuador is not unique in this.
The shock of the restrictions forced us to review the reasons that we made the choice to move here and to determine whether we will stay once the borders are open again. We evaluated whether the restrictions here are really any more severe than elsewhere. Our decision to move here was based on many concerns about life in the US among them the cost of living, the condition of the economy and the erosion of the rule of law. We were looking for a place where there was abundant food, a climate that allowed for growing food all year, a low cost and very simple way of life, a culture that functioned well with limited personal debt, and a culture that had a history of living through difficult times because of resilience and a well grounded knowledge of how to live in harmony with the earth. Those factors are still in place and the reasons that we have decided to stay for now. In comparison we have been reading articles about possible food shortages in other parts of the world as well as in the US.
We really don’t know what the future of this lock down will be in Ecuador or elsewhere. What is most concerning to us is the possibility that we would not be able to travel again. We hope that international flights will resume so we can travel freely. We are disturbed by the erosion of personal freedoms around the world and the calls for requirements of vaccines that would involve something like ID2020 in order to travel. Such a requirement is being proposed by governments and the WHO and the person who would benefit financially from it, Bill Gates. It would be heart breaking to be prevented from traveling to visit friends and family. We are very opposed to vaccines for multiple reasons some of which are identified by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in this article exposing Gates and the history of vaccine injuries read more here and here about ID2020.
We have read that Denmark passed a law that would allow the government to force people to get a COVID 19 vaccine. We hope that enough people will stand up and reject a vaccine requirement as it is frightening and an over the top invasion of freedom. We don’t know what Ecuador or the US will do.
So, in summary I would say that I feel safe in Ecuador currently. I am comfortable, I have plenty of food and I live in a beautiful tranquil community. I miss my family and friends in the US and I am hopeful that we will all be free again soon.