Flying Across the Pond

We just returned from a European tour. Of course, the first part of such a trip is to get over there.

We took a Copa flight in the morning to Tucomen (the Panama City international airport) and caught out flight to Frankfurt and then Paris in the afternoon.

Tucomen is a typical airport in most ways, but this was definitely a splash of local color, a very noisy band and dancer making their way around the airport.

Everything went according to plan on the trip over. It’s just looooong!  11 hours from Panama to Frankfurt, a few hours wait, then another 1 1/2 hours or so to Paris. And when you arrive, the time is 6 hours ahead of when you left so your body and head are all confused. We left on Wednesday afternoon, and by the time we arrived it was Thursday evening!

We went a lot of places on this trip – Paris, Zurich, not Milan (coronavirus shutdown!) Venice, Florence, and Rome so I have tons of photos to sort through and research. I’ll post them little by little as I get to it.

Speaking of coronavirus, we got super lucky that our trip happened in just the nick of time! The first we heard of problems was when we were in Paris, and word was that Milan and some nearby towns had been closed. We were scheduled to visit but instead, we went driving right on by and didn’t even stop at a bathroom. Nothing else was affected at that time and everywhere we went, it looked like business as usual.

Now though, just days later, there is much more concern about Italy as cases there and precautions increase. In Paris, the Louvre museum has been closed and according to the news, any gatherings over 5000 people are cancelled. If we had traveled even a week later, we would have been able to do less, we would have been much more worried about going anywhere, and worried about picking up the virus somewhere and bringing it home with us.

When we returned, Panama was very concerned about people arriving from Italy and China. We were all taken aside as soon as we arrived at the airport, and we were greeted/questioned by health care workers in gloves, gowns, masks, thermometers, and googles (on foreheads, but ready). They took all our info, names, passport numbers, local address, phone numbers, etc. and let us go on. Then, a surprise, when we landed in David the next morning, we were again taken aside along with the other couple who travelled with us. Again, info was written down, though this time the guy was just in ordinary clothes without gloves/gowns/masks etc.

Now we are getting daily calls from the health department to make sure we are showing no signs of illness. I questioned the nice lady today – she is calling from Panama City. If we show any signs of illness, they will find a doctor to come to our house. They don’t want us out and about and especially not if we might be infected. I’m a bit confused about staying home though, since our neighbors/travel companions said they specifically asked about that and were told they could be out if they are feeling fine. She is a teacher and went back to work on Monday. It’s not a problem for us. We’re still very jet lagged and tired and very happy to stay home, but I’ll have to verify and ask more questions because it doesn’t make sense to me.

But, we are feeling fine, and I think the chances we caught something are low. But we are definitely being careful though. With so much of the population here using public transportation and being generally very social, I can see the virus spreading like wildfire if it takes hold. I also see a serious lack of education about infection control (which is why I wrote that post on it recently). Wearing masks does NOT protect you, and wetting your fingers in the water is NOT adequate hand washing. People need to be educated on transmission, and how to prevent the virus from getting on your hands, and then to the face.

But, we can only do what we can in our small circle of influence. Now my next concern is visiting family in the USA. I’m supposed to leave for northern California in 2 weeks, and then spend more time in the Seattle area. Except for traveling I don’t expect to be out and about much and I’m not worried for me. But, what if I have trouble getting back in to Panama, or heaven forbid bring something with me?? The kids say life there seems normal, though the news says things quite different. *sigh*. I’m still on the fence.


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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10 Responses to Flying Across the Pond

  1. Warren R. Johnson says:

    Yes, I’m also on the fence. I’m scheduled to arrive in Panama May 1 and hopefully return later to stay. I don’t know about the flying and now wonder if Panama, like so many other places, will succumb to the virus. Please keep us informed of the local situation. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Robert&Helen says:

    There are more criminal violent scary people on this planet than virusses. Unfortunately you did not visit Spain. Direct flight daily to Madrid. Staying there 2 days, then to Barcelona and San Sebastian. Best food of the world in San Sebastian. I lived and worked there 13 years. Watch San Sebastian on Youtube.


    • There are a ton of things that kill people, many at the hands of other people, or many preventable causes but since this is the freak out topic at the moment, and I want to be able to come back to Panama, this is my immediate concern.


  3. Edie C Baxter says:

    We left for the U.S. (Spokane, WA) December 28th and were due to return home on February 24th but we are stuck here without passports since we sent ours in for renewal. Apparently, the passport office is swamped from a new law that was made requiring an enhanced driver’s license or passport by October 1st to be able to board a plane, even national flights.
    There have been 6 deaths in WA, purportedly from Coronavirus but the news media does not tell you the prior health of any one who has died so we don’t know if the 5 who died in Seattle were all from the same retirement home or any other details. The other death was in Snohomish so nothing on my side of the state yet.
    Best advice is to keep your very clean hands away from your face. I’ve become very aware of how often I touch my face! Trying to do better……


    • Oh sheesh, sorry about the passport thing.
      I think the Seattle deaths were folks from the nursing home, but a surprising number of first responders are now infected. They are people who know about infection control so that’s concerning.
      My daughter says she is going to start wearing more makeup and fancy lipstick, and maybe that will help her not touch her face!


  4. catfriend99 says:

    Things are not normal at all in the Seattle area. It’s stupid. MS, Amazon, F5, and who knows how many other corporations have eliminated all “nonessential” employee travel. MS has cancelled their MVP conference. Google employees are now working from home. REI has now closed 3 of their campuses. The new F5 tower closed down for a day for cleaning. Lots of schools are closed. One closed merely because one student had a relative who knew someone who had potentially been exposed. Ridiculous. Numerous events of all stripes have been cancelled. It’s absurd.

    I went to Costco yesterday for some cat food and tortilla chips. I swear I was the only shopper there whose cart was not overflowing with water and toilet paper. Clearly there is misinformation out there as to what end coronavirus symptoms emit from!

    As of right now there have been a total of 27 people who have tested positive. All but one of the 9 deaths was an elderly resident of the Life Care Center (nursing home) in Kirkland. The other was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions.

    Being aware and prepared is one thing. But all these schools and companies are being ridiculous.


    • Wow, thanks so much for the news from Seattle. It does sound pretty crazy. I’ll talk to my MS employee daughter tonight and see what she says, and what is going on with school and daycare for her kids. It was a few days ago that she said things were fairly normal. What I read is what you said about the nursing home residents, and a number of the infected were people who went there to transport them to the hospital.
      What a thing! My CA daughter was supposed to have a Swedish exchange student arriving in a couple weeks, and that is now cancelled.

      Yeah, I was wondering what’s up with all the toilet paper too. Maybe cheaper than Kleenex? Ha It seems like there is so much misinformation and ignorance everywhere and like you said, needless freaking out. Good luck with it all, and thanks for the comment.



    It is all a gross exaggeration !
    Thousands die every year from the flu , from hunger , from cold , from automobile accidents ,from the perpetual USA wars in Afghanistan, Iraq , Syria, Iran, Etc. and nobody seems to care .
    Now we have Coronavirus , with a death rate of less than 3% of those infected , and everybody is scared out of their wits. I don’t understand what is happening at all !!!!!!!!!!


    • Yes, I hear what you are saying. We put so much focus on one thing and ignore much bigger problems. Everyone is freaking out, fears are fanned by the media. Can you imagine if all this effort was focused on drug overdoses, wars, accidents, gun violence… we could make a really big list! Oh well… this too shall pass..


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