A naked city and a creative lockdown

April 19, 2020

 

As a part of my job and the activities inside Lima’s municipality, I had the chance of circulating amongst streets and avenues of my native city, having complete freedom in times of curfew and social distancing. I consider important to mention that in Lima, as well as in all the country, the authorities had chosen one of the most drastic measures in all Latin America. This, as a strategy to flatten the curve of COVID 19. 

This is why, when I walked the streets, I appreciated the scenario around me and thought of it as a ghost town. This is quite curious because, in general, Lima has a lot of movement, it is full of noise, cars, odors, and above all, unpleasant feelings because of citizen insecurity. For the first time in 30 years, I was able to feel the energy of a city I thought I knew. A naked city perceived for the first time completely different. 

I understood that the “everyday Lima” was pushed to show itself and behave violent and insecure, but Lima is a city in which you can walk to the horizon and feel no limits in your steps. In which is possible to walk without worries, feel like home and contemplate something you haven’t experienced before.

On the other hand, people were joining this experience from the innermost of their houses: windows, balconies, stairs, rooftops. The human factor was missing in the city equation. From time to time, people were stretching their necks to watch us and try to discover the reason of our visit, curious and afraid at the same time. Once again, an upside-down image popped into my head. An image of Lima, naked as it can, and all their people in lockdown. This allows such a unique level of observation, understanding how much this situation affects us. 

Before I left, ending my mapping duties, I perceived little silhouettes moving in the sky, just like threads going up from the top of the houses. Those were kites! I counted approximately thirty of them with different shapes and colors. Lots of them were homemade. The smile and concentration in people’s faces were quite contagious. For a moment there, it felt as if no crises or viruses could make us vulnerable. I realized people’s amount of creativity and adaptation: the ability to use another public stage to distract and interact with other neighbors “using the sky as a canvas”. This reaffirms the importance of relationships between people and their natural environment. 

COVID 19 is bringing out different kinds of feelings in all of us, such as new learnings and ways to think about our future: where and how do we want to live. It is a powerful chance to interact nicely, to catch up. Hopefully with the agenda that we’ve been postponing since the start of our lockdown. Returning home, I started looking for the kite I was keeping on a shelf. Something was motivating me to use my rooftop. I was touched by what I felt “out there”.

 

BArch. Walter Soto B.

Lima, Perú