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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/journal/2020/5/6/blog-de-cuarentena/

A quarantine blog

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I took a selfie to post on my Facebook. I wanted to let my blog followers know that I'm fine, since days before, I was “bothering” them with my questions about quarantine.

Until May 10, Peru will remain in quarantine. I was anxiously waiting for it to end on April 26 as scheduled, but the virus is still on the streets. As soon as this confinement ends, the first thing I'm going to do is go to the shopping center, eat in a restaurant and everything that we can't do now. But what I want most is to see people without masks and now hiding their faces. It is not the same as seeing another person through a screen. In my house, there is no one except me, and when I go out, all I see are people with masks.

For some time now, I have lived alone; Well, my two pets accompany me: a dog and a cat. But I didn't decide it that way, it's a temporary situation. Until the family is reunited again, separated by distance, I have to live like this. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you how I'm spending quarantine in Lima, Peru.

The day they announced the quarantine here in Peru, I found out from a neighbor. I was working on the laptop when I heard the neighbor yell at her house: “Quarantine! what do we do now?!". His reaction made me more nervous than the news itself. I started checking the news, to see if it was true. I had no one to ask. I started to feel anxious and to calm myself down, I opened my “emergency” pack. I don't usually smoke, but when I do it's because it happens, it makes me very nervous and that something was this quarantine. I was already imagining what it would be like. The police and military would be in the streets and we would all be like in the time of terrorism in Peru (80s and 90s); although now it was because of a virus. But that was the only day I smoked, because I took refuge in my other vice: writing on Jiritsu , which is my blog and which I update via Facebook.

Did I feel alone having breakfast? I would take a photo of my breakfast and upload it to Facebook. With the comments and likes of my followers, I already felt supported. I ran out of masks and didn't know where to buy them? I asked “Face” directly and many people advised me, even better than my own friends would have done. And that's how I made my blog a relief from my quarantine loneliness. Any doubts, concerns or fears I had, I shared with the people who followed me on Facebook, who were mostly people I didn't know. Really, social networks have been my best company in these days of confinement and uncertainty. How paradoxical! Several years ago, I had created that blog to talk about Nikkei history and culture and now, it had become a blog of a Nikkei in quarantine.

This is one of the breakfasts I shared on Facebook. Since flour has been scarce (because many people are now preparing cakes at home to distract themselves from the quarantine) and I no longer had any bread left, that day I made pan oatmeal cookies.

This is how I have been communicating with family and friends, whether known or virtual: through the internet and social networks. These days, we have exchanged messages on WhatsApp and Facebook, between friends and people from the “ sonjin ” [association that brings together the Nikkei according to their prefecture of origin. If you have Okinawan ancestry, it would be according to your shi-cho-son ]. But they were not greetings, but rather vital information for these days: notices from the stores that are now closed but offer their products via delivery, the new opening hours of the Nikkei savings cooperatives... I have even received “online” obituaries of people who have died these days, but due to social isolation they did not have wakes. Now condolences are made virtually. I think that now each of us belongs to a WhatsApp group, be it work, sonjin , club, etc.

It's a photo from my Facebook. I wanted to let those who read me know that I was “going on a trip”, in the middle of quarantine. That day, it was time to go to the supermarket, my “only destination” these days. With this stroller, I brought my bags from the airport when I returned from Nihon ; but now, I'm using it to bring food from the supermarket.

In these 40 days of quarantine, I think I have gone out once a week, just to buy food or masks. I've only been to the bank once, but I've already made all payments online, just like I do with my job. Here in Peru, until before the coronavirus, many of us preferred to go to the bank in person. So, due to this emergency situation, the cell phone and laptop have become our work tools, our wallet, our means of communicating and our best company, for those of us who live alone (or are bloggers ).

Now, I don't see as many police officers on the street as before. I haven't seen any military either. Before, I was afraid to go out because they told us that there were no longer any guarantees and any police or soldier could stop you on the street and ask you to identify yourself and say where you are going. But now, I see more cars driving, even though there is a quarantine and then, from 6 pm to 4 am, curfew.

And, how did I avoid smoking again, especially these days, as I am an anxious person? Well, I was taking magnesium+zinc effervescents, by a happy mistake. I usually take vitamin C every day to keep my defenses high, but because I let myself be convinced by the pharmacist, I ended up buying a new product. I thought it was “vitamin C,” but it was actually “magnesium+zinc with orange flavor.” Googling , I found out that magnesium and zinc have several properties and one of them is to reduce anxiety. Ugh! Yes, I was very lucky in this quarantine. I have felt calm in these 40 days of confinement, which will continue until May 10. I have felt accompanied, even if it is virtually. Furthermore, I have taken care of my health, because I stopped smoking.

This is me, with one of my pets.

But yes, I feel more tired, especially when I return from the street. I have to disinfect everything: the door handle, my clothes, my wallet, the products I bought, my eye protection, even my cell phone and keys! And when I'm already bathed, I can only greet those who are waiting for me at home, in my case, they are my pets.

Many times, it crosses my mind: “What are the old people doing?” In the Nikkei community, there are many older adults who live alone. I don't think everyone follows this routine: disinfecting yourself and everything you've touched and brought into the house, before sitting down to rest. If that is done for too long, I think it would become exhausting, physically and mentally. And, furthermore, I can't imagine how these days of quarantine are going, especially those old people who don't know how to use cell phones or social networks.

© 2020 Milagros Tsukayama Shinzato

bloggers blogs COVID-19 Peru quarantines social media
About this series

In Japanese, kizuna means strong emotional bonds. In 2011, we invited our global Nikkei community to contribute to a special series about how Nikkei communities reacted to and supported Japan following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Now, we would like to bring together stories about how Nikkei families and communities are being impacted by, and responding and adjusting to this world crisis.

If you would like to participate, please see our submission guidelines. We welcome submissions in English, Japanese, Spanish, and/or Portuguese, and are seeking diverse stories from around the world. We hope that these stories will help to connect us, creating a time capsule of responses and perspectives from our global Nima-kai community for the future.

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Although many events around the world have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have noticed that many new online only events are being organized. Since they are online, anyone can participate from anywhere in the world. If your Nikkei organization is planning a virtual event, please post it on Discover Nikkei’s Events section! We will also share the events via Twitter @discovernikkei. Hopefully, it will help to connect us in new ways, even as we are all isolated in our homes.

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About the Author

Sansei whose paternal and maternal grandparents were from the town of Yonabaru, Okinawa. She now works as a freelance translator (English/Spanish) and blogger at Jiritsu, where she shares personal stories and research on Japanese immigration to Peru and related topics.

Updated December 2017

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