Quarantine seems to have a very different meaning for people in the United States vs here in Chile. In the U.S. it’s seen as a general avoidance of other people, not going to any stores but still walking around outside freely, and certainly no one is going to come check on you.

Chile is different: quarantine means staying at home, period. Last year at the beginning of the pandemic, one of my friends was just returning from a holiday in Europe and had to do a 14-day quarantine in her home. She literally had to send her live location via WhatsApp to the authorities, and had someone come knock on her door once or twice as well to make sure she wasn’t out and about.

The city that I live in, La Serena, is … not doing well. Both new daily coronavirus cases as well as the total number of active cases in the region are higher now than they have been at any other time during the pandemic. That means we’re back in total quarantine: no leaving your place of residence without a permit, and everyone gets two 2-hour permits per week (to grocery shop and such). Like I said, not great.

The other way to get a permit is to work for a company that has been authorized to continue in-person work, so I’m incredibly lucky that I’m still allowed to go to the observatory once or twice a week. Progress is a little slow with fewer people onsite, but this test refrigeration system should be up and running any day week month now!

Condor coworkers that like to snack on the foam that seals the cover of our environmental monitor
Our hardware may be a hot mess but the toolbox is not and that, my friends, is how you stay sane when sh*t doesn’t work

More importantly, since the fútbol team that I play for is technically a professional team (although I definitely would not call myself a professional player), we have permits to continue practicing. We’re currently in preseason and those three hours in the sun every weekday are a lifesaver, even if my legs are dying. Games were supposed to start mid-April, but will probably get pushed back a week or two because Chile things.

The photos below were taken during a practice when we didn’t have colored pinnies to designate teams so used colored armbands instead and it was exactly as chaotic as you’d expect. We’re also currently wearing the old men’s team home game uniforms as our practice uniforms until new ones come in, hence the awkward white on white on white.

So the real key to surviving Chilean quarantine is to work on a remote mountaintop or to be on a professional athletic team, or preferably both. I am so very thankful for the privileges I have and very excited to hopefully soon be able to buy toilet paper and avocados as soon as I run out instead of calculating when I’m allowed to go to the store.