It’s been 6 months since quarantines and restrictions have been placed on us due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We had no idea then what we would be facing and how long it would be. I long for pre-Covid19 days of hanging out with friends, celebrations, freedom to come & go as we please, traveling throughout Panama and other countries, etc. This is not to say we haven’t endured and gone with the flow of things. I am grateful that God has protected Mikkel and I from the virus. I am grateful that we live in Pedasí and the Province of Los Santos where there have been fewer cases of Covid-19 than other provinces in Panama.
Panama now has a plan in place to slowly open up more this month and next. Depending on what province or area, the curfew is now 11pm to 5am every day. After 6 months of quarantines and longer curfews, it was strange at first to be out after 7pm. Some restaurants are now opening up for limited dine-in service. Last Friday, we ate dinner at Smiley’s and saw several friends we haven’t even seen for the past 6 months. Still could’t have live music, but streamed music was okay.
We have eaten a few times at our favorite breakfast spot, Mama Fefa’s fonda. We are able to travel throughout Panama more now without the sanitary checkpoints or a salvo-conducto pass. So Mikkel wanted a certain item at a PriceSmart which was supposedly available in Costa Verde, west of Panama City. So we took a day trip, although the item he wanted wasn’t there. But it was a nice trip anyway in our new car.
Yes, we bought a new car, a Hyundai Kona Sport Model with all the bells & whistles. Many businesses are being allowed to open up including car dealers. The Toyota Yaris we have is a good car, but we wanted something with more ground clearance and easier for Mikkel to fit behind the wheel. So soon after the car dealers were open, we went from dealer to dealer in Chitré, comparing different models & prices. We were a little leery about having to deal with car salesman, but we must admit it was some of the best experiences we have had when buying a new car from a dealer. No hassle or haggling, no pushy remarks that we must buy today; just welcoming words and showing the type of cars we were seeking with the facts of what each car had to offer, and letting us check out the cars for ourselves. After going home and researching online, we decided on the Kona for comfort, features, & price. A few days later, we returned to the Hyundai dealer, took a test drive, and then purchased the model and color we wanted. It took about 2 weeks to finally take possession; had to first wait for the bank wire transfer of payment, then delivering the car of our color and other features from Panama City. The price included tax, registration of title in Pedasí, and license plate. Our car salesman Luis arranged to have an English-speaking insurance representative come to the dealership to quote and purchase the car insurance as well. We are really happy with this new car and are still discovering all the features it provides. In the meantime, we have had the Toyota Yaris detailed inside and out and have posted it on several sites to sell.
Slowly more businesses, large and small are being given permission to open this month, as long as they follow certain health-guidelines & restrictions set up by the government. We all still have to wear masks while in public. When entering a store, business, or restaurant, our temperature is taken, there is a wet mat soaked with a disinfectant we must step on to clean the bottom of our shoes, and hand sanitizer to clean our hands. Also social-distancing is maintained throughout. All this protocol has become normal to us and will probably stay in place for a long time, if not permanently. Here in Pedasí, people seem to be getting a little more relaxed; there are a few home parties with loud music especially on the weekends when friends & family members are allowed to visit more. We visit our friends more to swim in their pool and/or just hangout. And heaven-forbid, we even hug our friends as we used to when greeting them. There are still not as many people out, walking around town, sitting in the park, etc. as before. And unfortunately, many businesses have closed permanently, an economic product of the Covid-19 pandemic. And yet, some new businesses have opened.
International travel will not open up until October 12th (unless the government extends the date again). Hotels and tourist attractions will be allowed to open then as well. But there is no date set for schools and certain other businesses such as movie theaters, carnivals, and fairs to open or be scheduled. Students, Kindergarten through College, are still having to attend classes online or through an educational tv program provided by the Ministerio de Educación. For many without internet, tv, and/or parental supervision and encouragement, their education has decreased or ceased for now. Hopefully by the next school year, starting March 2021, schools will open again, although many children will have fallen behind.
We don’t have any plans to visit our families in the U.S. soon. We were going to visit last May, but obviously that was cancelled. Probably won’t go until next April or May, 2021. And now our destinations have changed; Mikkel’s daughter and family have moved from San Jose, California to Lake Oswego, Oregon just outside of Portland; another family in the Los Angeles area are moving to Texas, outside of Dallas this November. Mikkel may be going to Houston, TX for an additional VA disability claim appointment late November, early December if things open up more. We now have tentative plans to visit Columbia next March. We have not made plane reservations for any of these plans yet, waiting to see what will happen concerning the pandemic and the lifting of country restrictions.
So we stay put for now, with occasional small day shopping trips or visits to local friends, beaches, restaurants, and other opened businesses. We continue to work on several projects around the house: painting, repairing, planting, cleaning, crafting, etc. It’s still the rainy or green season, so it seems to be a little cooler some days, especially when it rains. So our third life in Pedasí continues. Until next time, stay healthy and safe.