There’s been quite a lot going on here lately! We were starting to feel alive and it was great. Numbers were stable, not dropping as much as one would hope, but stable is good.
Starting May 3rd, live music was permitted for a performing group of 6 or less as long as biosecurity measures were followed. We went to the Boquete Brewery to celebrate the first live music in 14 months, not quieter acoustic music but real rock music, real drums, real volume and it was fantastic. Hashtag was playing, friends of ours and one of our favorite bands. We saw friends that we hadn’t seen since before the Pandemic. The Brewery was being very careful, reservations only, spaces between tables, masks required when not in your seat, etc. and the terrace is outdoors with a good breeze, so we felt safe.
And, we know our vaccines were coming this week, so we made a start date for our band – June 4th. That would give us 2-3 weeks after our first dose of vaccine, not full protection but considering the safety measures at the Brewery, we felt good about this plan. So, we came home very happy and excited, and we started putting set lists together for our first couple gigs and planning practices.
Then… there were steps backwards. Within a few days numbers were going up, and the worst of it was in Chiriqui. https://www.prensa.com/sociedad/mayoria-de-casos-activos-de-la-covid-19-se-registran-en-la-provincia-de-chiriqui/ The article says 42% of the cases are in Chiriqui, a province of 450K+ in a country of about 4 million, or a province with maybe +/- 12% of the population. A friend said our proximity to Costa Rica isn’t helping because they have a lot of cases and there is so much travel back and forth. The border is a very strange one with no barrier between the two countries, and there is a very popular shopping area there. One can very easily wander from one country to another as you wander from store to store, so the two populations mix a lot. No one would even know you crossed a border without going through customs and immigration until you were caught at the checkpoints well down the road. So there’s that, and people are just plain tired of all the hassles, and not seeing their friends and family as they wish, and with everything opening up it feels almost like old times.
So, when statistics and numbers change, the authorities make changes.
This says that starting tomorrow, we have a curfew from 8PM – 4AM every day, and all day Sunday. So much for live music. But when we went to Boquete we saw that every restaurant had business, parking spots were full, and the town was very active with people out enjoying themselves. And most Panamanians work Mon-Sat so Sunday is for getting together with family and friends, and generally having fun in ways that may not be advisable right now. So, as difficult as it is, especially for bars, restaurants, and businesses with a lot of evening activities, I understand the reasoning. Word is that the situation will be reevaluated in 2 weeks but moving the numbers is not a fast process, so I’m not counting on anything changing right away.
But, it’s not all bad news. Vaccinations started today in Chiriqui for people over 60, pregnant women and teachers! I’m not too excited… ha! ~~hopping up and down~~ The system worked as expected. We registered weeks and weeks ago, and were told that we could look for our appointments on Monday. Sure enough, I was up early, logged on to the website, and there it was! Tuesday, I also got an email with my appointment time and place, and instructions.
On Tuesday, our vaccines arrived. I also read that 1000+ people came here from the Panama City area, people who were working in the vaccination clinics over there who will be now working in the clinics here.
There doesn’t seem to be rhyme and reason for why you get sent to one site instead of another, but who cares. We are happy! Joel is at one place on Saturday, I’m going to another on Sunday (allowed even during curfew). My neighbors are also scattered in different places and days, but we’re all going to get our shots! Word is the clinics all started today and will run through Sunday, and they expect to give around 3oK shots in that time. Of course I will report on how it goes.
We are really happy, especially now with the more worrisome situation in our province. But, the biggest thing of all is that my family and I will feel ok with me traveling, and by late June I expect to be in the USA with my family.
So, that’s the main news around here. Otherwise life is going on. The city is active. We’re getting lots of rain. We’re thankful to be here, and very sorry to hear about the terrible problems in other parts of the world. We feel very fortunate!
As always, take care of yourselves and each other.