March 9, was the first case of the virus in Panama. In the space of 3-4 weeks, life has gone from fairly normal to this different existence. Now we are allowed out for 2 hours, which hours are designated by ID numbers, for essentials only (food, pharmacy, gas, bank, health care), women on M-W-F and men Tu-Th-Sa. It is Sunday today so nobody at all is allowed out (except essential workers).
But, how quickly do we adapt? After days and days at home it feels almost normal to us except for the constant barrage of news, steadily increasing number of cases and deaths, and the much worse news coming from the US and around the world. Everyone wonders what the future holds, how long is this going to last, and will life ever get back to normal and when it does, what will our new normal look like?
I am learning new words. I can spell quarantine without spell check, and I can converse about la cuarantena, el virus, and other words I wish I didn’t know like fallicidos (deaths) and cuidado intensive (intensive care). My social circle has been reduced to the neighbors I can talk with across fences, but I’m on the internet more. We’ve been doing almost daily group video chat with my older daughter, the other grandparents, and I, while the kids have snacks and read books. This takes a lot of the sting out of not being able to be with them in person. My other daughter has called me more too, and we’re going to see if we can get her family in on reading circle time as well so the cousins can see each other.
I had a great chat with my older daughter today while her son was at a birthday party. The kids did it all on line playing Minecraft, all together in the same game from their homes. Their teachers are also using technology for virtual class times to supplement the work being sent home. I know it means a lot to the kids to be able to see their teachers and classmates. I’m also hearing about cooking, gardening, and other skills not taught in school, and more time with parents even though they are all juggling working from home while taking care of housebound kids. I’m really proud of how well they are all doing in these difficult circumstances!
We’ve also settled into something of a routine here. There is checking the news (try to keep that to a minimum), correspondence, my audio book addiction (yes, I have ebooks too), music practice, cooking, laundry and the normal house chores, and I’ve been cleaning more seriously so depending on how long this goes on, I’m going to have the cleanest house ever! I’ve been scrubbing the textured floor tiles with a scrub brush, sorting some of the piles that tend to accumulate in catch all spots and cleaning shelves, walls, and other things. Maybe one of these days we’ll even tackle that scary place under the kitchen sink!
I miss biking the most, the physical activity, fresh air, and social interactions. I know there are exercise videos and other opportunities but yuck, that is so not my thing so I’m trying to stay active with yard and house work. I’m not hauling band equipment either, but I’ve enjoyed this down time to work on my skills and new material. Someone posted a video of one of the other bands at our usual venue though, which reminded me of what we are missing – the music, the comradery with the other musicians, the employees, and the audience. I know someday we will be back but there is no telling when. And since tourists make up a large part of the audience and clientele of the venue, who knows when they will start coming back.
But all in all, we have nothing to complain about. We are SO fortunate. And I feel so much for people not only sick, but suffering from loss of work, loss of income, business shut downs, separations from friends and families, and the unknown of an uncertain future.
But hey, at least the beaches in Georgia are open again. Here in Chiriqui the local authorities posted a beautiful video to thank the trash collectors for their very important work in keeping the country clean.