I Went OUT!

Ordinarily this wouldn’t be anything remarkable, but these are not ordinary times. We have not left the house since March 23rd, so I only knew what to expect from asking others. My goal was Pricesmart (like Costco), El Rey (supermarket), and the bank.

So, my day, (written yesterday, Wednesday) – Traffic was light around town which made driving much easier. I was alone because only women are allowed out on M-W-F. (Men go out on Tu-Th, and nobody goes out on Sa-Sun.) Most people are allowed an hour (with 30 min travel time on either side) but I’m in the over 60 crowd so I’m allowed 2 hours, 11am-1pm.

I started at the bank. It’s open some mornings and other afternoons, and today was an afternoon day so it wouldn’t open until 1pm. I got what I needed from the ATM in the lobby though.

Next was Pricesmart. It’s usually a hectic drive through the most congested parts of the Panamerican highway, but today it was easy. There was parking available and no waiting to get in. There were guards at the door, however, to make sure it was your legal shopping time. The gal in from of me was obviously young, but she had something on her phone that the guards read and let her in. Apparently my gray hair was enough for me. There were only a few things on my list that weren’t available, but there was definitely plenty to stock a house and a kitchen with a variety of meal options.

Everyone was wearing masks. EVERYONE. I saw some people driving in their cars without masks, but everyone outside had on masks, which I believe is a requirement now. We were squirted with hand sanitizer at the Pricesmart door, and everyone was staying the required distance apart. It’s harder to tell if someone is smiling though when you can only see their eyes. Usually smiles and greetings are normal when passing someone in the aisle, but there was a minimal amount of that yesterday. I hope we don’t lose our social closeness along with our physical closeness.

I drove by the supermarket on the way home but there was a line, so I went home so Joel could unload the car and get the frozen stuff put away. Next – the supermarket. There was a line and though it wasn’t long, it was probably a half hour wait to get in. But, I eventually made it to the door, had my temperature taken, was sprayed up and down with alcohol, and well sprayed on my hands. Again, the store was quite well stocked but it still involved a few phone calls home… they don’t have that, do you want to substitute with this? By the time I was done I was really tired, and it was past 1pm.

Since the bank opened at 1pm, I went over there to make a payment by sending money to another bank account. Unfortunately they wouldn’t send money to another bank, and the only open branch for the other bank was downtown, where I didn’t want to go and I was also out of time. So, I called it a day and headed home to collapse in my chair with a big pitcher of iced tea.

I don’t enjoy shopping on a good day, and this was especially stressful not knowing what to expect, and wanting to get it done within my allowed time, and in the daytime heat and with a mask. You also think a lot more about everything you touch. Who touched that shopping cart before you? Do you want to put your purse in the cart or keep it hanging on your shoulder? Are you touching everything, and then touching your glasses so you can see the shopping list on your phone? You touched your credit card and so did the check out lady, and then do you want to put it back in your wallet? What have the stock boys and bag boys touched before they touched your groceries?

There is just no way to be 100% protected, so you do the best you can and use your hand sanitizer a lot. When I got home the clothes went directly into the washing machine, and I went directly to the shower. I disinfected my glasses, phone, and keys also.

I also forgot how hot it is to wear a mask. I have a lot of hospital experience with masks, but that was years ago and not in the hot Panamanian midday sun. If you want to get a taste of coronavirus shortness of breath, wear a mask in a hot parking lot, and make a quick trip across the parking lot pushing a loaded cart. ha! But, I slowed down and got everything in the car without incident.

But, all in all, it was a successful day and the house is stocked for another month.

In general, nobody knows when things will change. There are hints, like a possible peak of the curve in mid May, and Copa Airlines talking about resuming limited flights on June 1st. But for now, this is life as we know it.

The wildlife is totally oblivious to the recent changes though, except maybe they are enjoying the extra quiet. This dove is sitting on a nest in our orange tree, probably good spot because we are careful not to disturb her, and there is a pan of fresh water out every day for her and all the birds.

Look at the brown spot in the sunlight to the right of the photo. That’s her back, and her head is to the right.

I’m very thankful that we have everything we need, and are happy indefinitely at home. It’s getting harder and harder for other people though, especially those who have lost their income and government help is not enough and too slow in coming. Hopefully we can all help a bit wherever we can so we can all get through this and come out OK.


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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12 Responses to I Went OUT!

  1. oldsalt1942 says:

    Back here in La La Land all those “Prepper” morons who built “shelters” and stocked them with enough non-perishable food, guns and ammunition so they could last at least a year when the government collapsed are having fits and screaming that making them stay home is a violation of their Constitutional Rights and demand that everything be opened up after being in lockdown for just a couple of weeks.

    Here in Manatee County, Florida, the County Commissioners voted 4-3 to reopen the boat ramps so, no kidding, “poor people could go out fishing and feed their families.” I’m anchored by one of the busiest boat ramps on Anna Maria Island. Last weekend there a couple dozen jet skis launched and guess what? NOT ONE of them was run by a poor person and NONE had fishing rods.

    Call me a horrible person if you want, but I hope all those people get sick and drown in their own juices!!! Honestly, I DO!


    • Sometimes I wonder if the “Prepper” people just want to look large and in charge with a big gun. You’re right, they aren’t doing well with inconvenience at the moment. But, if they want to end lockdown and go “fishing”, I suppose… ok then. It will all get sorted out one way or another. I just hope they don’t infect a lot of sensible people in the process.
      About the fishing, do people really use their boat as a necessity to feed the family? I think it’s sport and it would be cheaper to sell the boat and go to the supermarket. Nobody on jet skis was fishing? Hmm, imagine that.


  2. carole says:

    You only shop once a month, after 2 weeks need things again. They are not so stocked here, I can go in 1hr before everyone else (senior). Today we snorkelef for 2 hrs, beaches were opened, we where the only ones snorkeling with a few bathers not close.


    • Our veggie guy comes by every week, and we have a good size freezer so we’re able to shop once a month. Otherwise we’d be shopping more often too. Nice about the snorkeling, sounds lovely!


      • Kristi N Lyman says:

        LOL a good sized freezer is an understatement Kris. If you didn’t have so much frozen bananas and mangos in there you could hide a body. I have been trapped in my house for over a month now but have been keeping myself busy with Tai Chi and oil painting. I keep looking to see when they are going to open the borders so I can make the move. I bought my plane ticket a few weeks ago when the bottom fell out of the airline prices. $91.00 for my ticket I could not believe it. I reserved my flight for July 16th hopefully it will be safe for me to fly there without worrying about bringing any nasty bugs with me.


        • Copa is talking about resuming flights on June 1st, but only a small fraction of their former schedule. I think it’s going to be a while, but I hope your plans work out. That’s some time away yet. I might have to check on those prices myself. wow.
          ha, true about the freezer 😀 Take care and hang in there!


  3. eswini says:

    Well done:) Sounds like a successful day. I totally share your views on shopping- didn’t enjoy in normal times. Now it’s just torture. One of the things that led to a rant today:) https://helpincoronatimes.wordpress.com/


  4. oldsalt1942 says:

    Looking at your post again I noticed a common error most gringos make when referring to the supermarkets there in Panama. It’s NOT “El” Rey. It’s simply REY. It’s also the “Grupo Rey” which includes the Romero supermarkets.


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