Terrifying March -2020

What a difference a month makes! Although we know that this Coronavirus was already in China and might make an appearance here and there – I dont think anyone truly realized

what was really to come! We were NOT non-chalant here in Panama- we were taking it very seriously and starting to distance ourselves and staying away from unnecessary functions and even dinners out. However, the very first week in March saw a few of us celebrating some happy occasion. On March 2, our own Chef Pascal was celebrating a birthday!. Don’t think he knew that anyone knew it was his special day but we got a cake for him and celebrated at what was to be the last Monday Nite Dinner down at our Beach Restaurant.

Chef Pascal blowing out the Candles

Chef Pascal blowing out the Candles

Chef Pascal with a bunch of us!

Chef Pascal with a bunch of us!

A few night’s later, Leslie, along with her good friend Marg who was visiting here from Canada, and I went to Las Bovedas, our other great restaurant at the resort next door to us. What a fun night we had along with a great meal.

Marg and her Frozen Margarita

Marg and her Frozen Margarita

Phyllis , Marg, and Leslie

Phyllis , Marg, and Leslie

Then BOOM!!!!!! The President of Panama announced his quarantine for the entire country of Panama. People not living hereĀ  permanently had to leave and people who were away had to get back and they needed to self quarantine at home for 14 days – this was all mandatory! Pretty severe, but it is turning out to be a prudent step. Then Panama City could NOT come to the beaches and w at the beaches could not go to Panama City! This was only the beginning. At this point I decided to “self isolate” and stay home and be safe! Slowly, but surely word came out that we could no longer travel to cities that were only 40-45 minutes away from us. That meant no El Valle and not even Chorrea where our closes PriceSmart (Costco in U.S.) is located. Now that was truly devastating!. With that, on March 23, came the quarantine edict regarding hours as well as the hours we could be out! Yes- Quarantined and we were allowed specified hours according to our passports for the ex-pats and Cedulas for Panamanians. We were given a specified HOUR, with 30 minutes on each end for travel time, but this hour was for groceries or medications only. EVERYTHING else was shuttered. No businesses open, no restaurants, NADA!!! Since I am a senior citizen, they gave seniors the time of 11-1pm TOTAL. Better be off the streets by 1. I do know that I am also more susceptible, so I decided I would only venture out once a week to be even safer. Now I don’t even go out- I use delivery service. Yes, they shop and bring to your residence. A new business grew! But I only use 1 favorite store. It is smaller and has products I like plus if they are out of something or don’t have, they can bring it in from the bigger stores in the city and they always do for me. So at least I am getting what I need. I also do wear a mask and gloves if out. That was my “safe” choice, but as of yesterday, it became mandatory that if you are out, even if only in your car, you must have a mask on and if you enter a store , the gloves must be on. I used them to be safe in touching things, and when I left, I would peel off the gloves and put directly into a garbage container. I did take my mask off as well when outside, but you cannot do that anymore. The mask MUST be on at all times while you are out!.
And today came a NEW edict. As of April 1 (isnt that supposed to be a joke, fool’s or something) you are still allowed your time slot BUT women only out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and men out only on Tuesday Thursday and Saturday. NO ONE OUT ON SUNDAY!!!! I am not upset over men and women not being out together. It is amazing the seniors (which here are 60 and up) that must go shopping together, which does take up space in the stores where only 50 are allowed in at one time regardless of store size, and these rules are very much enforced!!!! So they will eliminate lots of people together who really do not have to be.
These times are not fun, but I have adjusted and have accepted what it has to be. I am grateful that I am in this country right now and feel very well protected by this government. The last few days, cases have dropped and that could be a very good sign!. We are truly hopeful. I think the worst thing is absolutley NO LIQUOR SALES anywhere. That is totally locked up. You cannot buy anywhere. And so this goes and for how long is anyone’s guess.
I have been in communication with so many old friends in the states. They call me, I have reached out to them. New contacts thru Facebook. I have found the time to READ again as well as watch some movies on TV!. Ihave had to become a maid again as no one can come to work in these Condo buildings, and you dont want them to be near you just in case. I only had a girl come for 3 hours once a week but now I am doing it all. I get to one room at a time and then the damned ’tile” floors that have to be mopped!!! Thank heavens I have a swiffer jet. Did not realize how wonderful they really are!. At least i am not mopping. You should see me try to lif the mattress on the bed to put back clean bed linens. Can hardly lift. Not funny when you realize the things you can no longer do that was nothing just a mere 5 years ago!!!!Oh well.
The laundry is unreal as when you do leave to go out, and I try to walk on the grounds here 4-5 times a week. Must exercise and I do go sit out in the sun 3-4 times a week as the hot sun and Vitamin D also help with this virus. When I come back from a walk or the sun, you do need to strip down and put your clothing ito the laundry. So- there is more laundry. But I dont mind that at all.
Forgot to tell you that we do have a curfew here. WE must be home by 5pm and cannot leave until 5am. The fines are $50,000 for a first offense and I heard there have been a lot. People are finally waking up. Yes, the Panamanians are hard to tame, but they will realize that lives are being saved.
I am watching the U. S. daily and I shudder at what is going on in our wonderful country of the US with Governor’s not taking a harder stance. They are truly learning the hard way. All we can do together is Pray for this to end soon and hopefully we will all come out smarter and stronger in the end. We have certainly learned how to be a family again and I think we have learned what is truly important in life. It has become a strange wake -up call.
I pray that you are all well and safe. I had posted a letter on FaceBook quite a few weeks ago and heard from so many people and at least I knew they were well and safe. It was so nice, especially receiving so many messages. Please do continue to keep in touch so we know we are all well.
To all of you celebrating Passover or Easter next week, I am sure this will be a different time for all of us but know my love and good wishes go to all of you for the best kind of a holiday you can have. With all of our restrictions, I will be celebrating Seder for One!
I know we can all do this and weather the storm out there. WE Seniors may not be around too long, but our Children and our Grandchildren will never forget this part of our history and lessons learned will long be remembered. Bless us all and let’s keep believing. My love to all and until next month………………………………………………….

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Category: Dispatches
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