What’s going on in Panama? Nothing much. We have been stalled for weeks with no change in sight. Ever since opening levels 1 and 2 (out of 6 planned levels), the number of cases went up dramatically. I can understand why the authorities are very frustrated and reluctant to open up any further. The daily count of new cases is usually over 1000 now. Hospitals are getting full to capacity. Flags were flown at half mast a couple days ago for the thousand people who have lost their lives to the virus. I know it seems like small numbers compared to the US and other countries but this is a small country, and they really hoped to keep the virus contained and under better control.
Most of the problems are in the Panama City area. Those poor folks have been under very strict quarantine for weeks (only allowed out for a few hours a week) but the numbers aren’t getting better. Here in Chiriqui, our province, the numbers have also gone up. Boquete is closed. You can’t get in without proof that you live there. I hear Cero Punto is also closed, which is understandable. It’s up in the mountains where they grow the vegetables for the whole country and we can’t have the farmers all getting sick.
I’ve heard that the worst problems are in the lower income areas where people tend to live in close quarters, making it easy to share the virus. Some farm workers are also having problems since they often live in close quarters as well. But, these people still need to go to the supermarket and other places where they can share the virus. I’ve also heard about too much socializing, crowded bars, trips to the beach, birthday parties and other gatherings that are dangerous things to do right now. Many say that too many salvo conductos (permission to be out and about) were issued, which encouraged the spread of the virus. But, how do you balance the need to be out and working so you can feed your family, with the need to be staying home to slow the spread of the virus? The government is helping those affected with food and money, but it’s only a small fraction of what is needed to offset the loss of income of too many families.
We went out shopping yesterday and the day before. Things look fairly normal around town, and there was a fair amount of traffic. Most stores seem to be open but with limitations on the number of people inside, so some stores have lines waiting to get in. You will be expected to walk through a pan of alcohol to clean your feet, have your temperature checked, and your hands squirted with hand sanitizer. Everyone, absolutely everyone wears masks at all times. I made a more breathable mask for biking because I feel naked now without a mask, even when I’m not close to anyone. People are jogging, biking, driving cars, and doing yard work, all with masks.
Interesting and creative masks are starting to appear more frequently which is fun. I figure we’ll be wearing masks for a long time so this is good, especially if they are hand made by people trying to support themselves and their families. I still find the masks a bit difficult since it’s harder to understand people with their mouths covered. You can only see eyes and people don’t look the same. But, I’m getting more used to it.
As for us, we continue to be contented at home. Between the freezer and the veggie guy who visits us weekly, we can go more than two months between shopping trips. I go biking about three times a week and it’s easy to pick up a few things from street vendors along the way. My favorites are the sweet gal under the Via Boquete bridge who sells honey, the real deal from her family’s hives, and it’s the best I’ve found here. If I’m out late enough and the seafood guy is out early enough, we can get fresh fish and shrimp from him.
I’ve been doing a lot of yard work at home. It’s rainy season so everything grows like crazy and I enjoy being out. Then of course, there is always the music. We are working on the song list for the next video. But, there are some new songs I want to learn to sing, a slow process for me, so that has diverted me. But, we keep working on material and improving our skills, so whatever happens in the future it’s satisfying to be able to play and sing better.
You all out there…. I have nothing to add what is reported in the news and what I hear from friends. It doesn’t look like much is going to change in the foreseeable future. I know so many are suffering financially and emotionally, and also worry for their health and very lives. Even those who, like my family thank goodness, who are safe and well, it’s so tedious and difficult. Life as we knew it has been pretty much upended.
I hope you all are well and safe, and as sane as possible under the circumstances! This is difficult for everyone. Take good care of yourselves and each other.