Panama has taken the Corona virus pandemic seriously from the start immediately laying out a plan of concentric circles of isolation to limit spread of the disease. First thing they did, pulled I believe from the US Canal Zone playbook, was to make the country dry – no liquor of any kind. I have no idea what that knee-jerk reaction inspired by Panama’s colonial “masters” has to do with anything, particularly since the former President and his brother own Varela Brothers, Panama’s largest producer of rum and one of the most powerful businessmen in the country is Felipe Motta who controls most of Panama’s wine and liquor distribution. But anyway – no country has figured out the prefect response.
But Panama by early on closing the schools, limiting public assembly to five persons, creating “sanitary fences” throughout the country, closing parks and beaches, and requiring people to remain in their homes except for controlled and designated times to go to grocery stores and pharmacies – all of this has been important and helped. Most important has been the cooperative attitude of most of the people. It’s been a little challenging in Panama City, but out in the “Interior” where we live, everyone coperates, except for the bitching about no alcohol to drink.
I hate to say this, but off the record, Nikki and I are actually enjoying the lock down. Nikki’s found lots of stuff that needs cleaned out and organized and I’ve found projects around the farm that have needed to be done. We’re enjoying our home, sharing breakfast and sunrises on the front porch, and dinner and sunsets on the back porch, although last night I finished off the last bottle of wine. When I’m home I’ve very happy to be home, but Nikki’s a little more social than I am and misses her “girls” (her word, not mine) breakfasts, the Tuesday Market, and some concerts at the library that were on the schedule but of course now, like everything else, cancelled.
Our local mayor seems to be on top of the issue, enforcing the stay at home edicts, keeping people informed and in general remaining positive. All the edicts are in Spanish, but expats who speak Spanish quickly translate stuff and almost instantly it is on the Coconut Telegraph, the modern version of which is the Internet.
But everyone agrees, if, and when you do go to town, it is eerie and spooky with hardly anyone in sight … except for the long line in front of the grocery store … all at socially appropriate distances. Assuming the last number on your identity card or passport matches the schedule, 15 to 25 people at a time are left inside the store. In some of the big-box type stores you’ve got 20 minutes or one shopping cart full, and in smaller stores you’ve got 15 minutes to shop.
So we celebrated Easter by joining our family together, we in Boquete, Panama, my daughter Noelle and her family in Seattle, and my other daughter Rebecca in the Bay Area, and we shared together Andrea Bocelli’s mini-concert from the cathedral in Milan, Italy. It was eerie seeing some of the places we love totally empty.
Our Easter dinner were some slices of spiral ham we had a while back that were languishing in our dying freezer … a worthless, but expensive piece of junk, made by Frigidaire. One of the joys of living in Panama is you buy this stuff and there is no one knowledgeable or reliable to fix it. Same problem with my spa. And me without a freezer to keep my Haagen Daz, no working spa, and now no wine or rum, but who am I to bitch if that’s my only problems?
We’re grateful for our family and for the people we’ve come to know around the world, and for all those who are suffering, grieving, and with very little. Maybe this day can serve as a “reboot” for 2020.