"Teatro in Time of Plague – 60

While we were distracted by the hurricane, the number of cases topped a hundred thousand. (That is of course the official number; the real number is undoubtedly much higher). We have water. Shout it to the rooftops. The phone signal and internet signal come and go. Today was sunny: a drying out day. The work continues of rescuing people from rooftops, especially in the zone to the north of Progreso. There is a tremendous outburst of solidarity among the pueblo. The government is only looking for how to steal international donations that come with this; the people are doing the government’s job to help those in need. People making meals for the shelters, people donating clothes. It’s touching to see. Our friend Eta pounded Cuba today and is headed for Miami.

Monday, November 9, 2020 - 100, 507 cases, 2, 751 deaths.

A sunny day, not too hot. A kind of take stock morning in the teatro. The streets around are a mess, but the only visible damage on our property is one tree down. The building itself is on slightly higher ground, and is on stilts on top of that, so it was dry enough. When I arrived the actors were in a session with Edy, brain storming about what they can do. Luis came up with the idea of doing a sort of video of a song from Los Pobres with images of people rescued from roofs. He already has the song recorded. Seems to me an obvious choice to get something relevant in the air. Let’s see if he can come up with something. The Red Cross (mostly volunteer) and the Fireman are leading the rescue efforts. There are still a lot of people on roofs, especially to the north of Progreso in what were banana camps. The rescuers have set up beneath the Democracia Bridge; there are about 20 small boats that are doing continuous back and forth trips. There is no presence of the government in the rescue efforts. On the other hand, the government of El Salvador has sent a large caravan of trucks with aid of all sorts.

Lizeth prepared a barbeque for all – something that had been planned for last Monday and postponed from there. There’s no passage from here to San Pedro Sula, except for big tractor-trailers and such like. The waters have begun to recede in some areas, but the whole valley remains flooded. Half of the banana crop has been lost.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - The official statistics page hasn’t been updated.

Another sunny day that didn’t get too hot. The sun was busy drying things out. Downtown was jammed again. I went to Café Esperanza with my friend Cristian, a young barber whose job disappeared with the pandemic. His family lost almost everything – they have the good luck that some clothes survived. They (he, his mother, his sister) are jammed into the house of his brother. One of the hardest hit areas is the airport and La Lima y Ciudad Planeta which surround it. The waters have receded somewhat, leaving tons of mud everywhere. The main area of the airport terminal had 2 meters of water. It’s going to take time and money to replace all the computers and other machines that they use. Any help from the government at any level is conspicuous for its absence.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020 - 100, 804 cases, 2, 780 deaths.

Another sunny, drying-out and taking stock day. The water has receded enough that passage to San Pedro was restored today. (The road is built up and is at a considerably higher level than the surrounding areas). People are camped out on the median strip, with tents improvised from sheets of plastic. Most areas that have flooded still have a couple of feet of water. I have the impression (without any evidence to back it up) that there are not too many houses that were washed away. But a massive amount of houses where all the contents were destroyed or washed away: refrigerator, stove, mattresses, clothes. The waters leave knee-deep mud everywhere. Once the waters recede, the cleaning job in every house is huge. There is another storm gathering which seems to be a copy-cat, following the same path of Eta. Just what we need is some more rain.

We almost forget that this is taking place in the context of the pandemic. There is going to be a huge spike of new cases in a few days. Yesterday the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, sent a whole caravan of trucks full of emergency supplies. Our own government has sent nothing. There is much desire to interchange presidents.

Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 101, 169 cases, 2, 797 deaths.

There are two more storms churning about the Atlantic and Caribbean that may be km headed our way. What will be Iota if it reaches tropical storm level is just 1,100 to the east of Honduras; already named Theta is in the mid Atlantic. Both are heading this way, although it is possible they detour somewhere else. Just what we need is more rain. (Eta was pounding Florida yesterday and today). I went to the office today, and to the bank. They were fixing the street: the main street to the entrance to the teatro (not paved) had a huge hole in it that a big plough fixed. (I don’t know what you call those big tractors that fix the streets). The zones to the north of Progreso remain flooded, and rescue operations continue for people stranded on rooftops. Luis spent most of the day looking for shots to do a video to one of the Roberto Sosa poem songs. He seems quite satisfied with what he got. The Gran Hotel Sula, the hotel on the main plaza of San Pedro Sula (between the Cathedral and City Hall), just announced it is closing definitively this Sunday. They say it’s because of the Covid crisis. That makes me sad: it is kind of the symbol of the city. But I imagine hotels everywhere are having problems.

Friday, November 13, 2020 - 101, 468 cases, 2, 804 deaths.

Tropical depression Iota has become tropical storm Iota and is heading straight for us, so far following the path of Eta last week. There is a tremendous tension in the air, waiting to see what Iota brings us. The ground is already soaked and the levees have all already burst: even a moderate rain will strike much more disaster. The whole city of La Lima is being evacuated in the face of the Iota threat. According the present indications, it should be here Sunday night or Monday morning. I don’t know where they are going to put all the people from Lima (Lima is where the airport is located). La Prensa says there are 61 shelters in Progreso. I haven’t seen any other figure to dispute that. The waters have receded here, leaving mud behind. There are still people on their rooftops to the north of Progreso. We had a meeting of everybody in the teatro in the morning. We basically decided there is really nothing we can do until we know what’s going on with Iota. So we are set in on a tense wait.

Saturday, November 14, 2020 - The official statistics page has not been updated.

A day of tense waiting. Everything depends on what happens to Iota. There are some indications that it might go more to the south, pounding Tegucigalpa and Choluteca but leaving us relatively untouched. But the rain surrounding these storms is always heavy, and even a moderate rainfall will be devastating given the state of the earth – soaked – and the state of levees – destroyed by Eta. Panic buying filled downtown. Supermarkets jammed. All low-level areas have been evacuated (including the whole of La Lima). I heard from two different people that yesterday it took them four hours to get to San Pedro Sula – in normal times it’s about 45 minutes.

Sunday, November 15, 2020 - The official statistics page has not been updated.

Another day of excruciating tension as we await the arrival de Iota. They are warning us that rains could start tonight or tomorrow morning. It has already risen to a Category 1 Hurricane, and will probably become Category 4 tomorrow. Evacuations are in process from all the zones that were flooded with Eta. And as if we didn’t have enough to worry about, there is another one forming, Kappa, following the same trajectory as Eta and Iota. The government remains conspicuously absent. What has taken its place is the people: Solo el pueblo salva al pueblo. As one example, our maintenance guy in the teatro and his wife are making and distributing in the shelters 150 hot meals per day. The response of the pueblo has been very moving. And needless to say, we are going to have a huge spike in Covid cases because of this.

Keep safe and wash your hands,





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