A few years ago I took one of the last of the Princess “Small Ships” on its final voyage around South America before the ship was sold to another cruise line. One of the big surprizes for me was a city that was new to me, Guayaquil, Ecuador. I was particularly drawn to the old part of the city, filled with art galleries, on the water, yet side-by-side with very modern office and apartment buildings.
The people were warm and welcoming, and I came back to Panama thinking, “Now I could live there!” And many ex-pats have chosen to live in Equador, usually up in the mountains and not along the coast. But I thought it was a charming city.
Now all of that has changed due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Ecuador has been hard-hit and Guayaquil is one of the hardest hit cities in the world with both the country and city unprepared and unable to deal with the crisis. So many people are dying … dying, not just testing positive … dying from the disease, that public authorities and private funeral homes cannot deal with the avalanche of dead bodies. As the bodies start to deteriorate and smell, people can no longer keep them in their houses, so they are put on the street waiting for someone to pick them up. The government is talking about mass graves. Now this once beautiful city has been all but forgotten, consigned to the pit of hell.
I realize the whole world is going through tough times right now, but when you kind of fell in love with a place, and then to see all this misery and tragedy …
Panama, although faced with it’s own challenges, has reached out in neighborly love to Ecuador and sent a planeload of masks, equipment, and even some of our infectious disease specialists and front line medical people to help out our neighbors in need. Countries CAN do that you know.
We will survive, but the sad reality is that not all of us will survive. But as a world family, we will somehow get through this. I’m reminded of what Robert Schuller used to say, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” Ecuador quite literally is at the center of the world and it will survive. I only hope and pray that once-beautiful Guayaquil will make it.