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Corona in Panama

gepost op: 12-May-20

Hoe het coronavirus hier in Nederland het dagelijks leven beïnvloed daar zijn wij wel bekend mee. Ook van onze Europese buurlanden zien we veel voorbijkomen in het nieuws. Maar hoe is dat in landen in Latijns-Amerika? We vroegen onze lokale agent in Panama Schoschana naar de situatie daar en zij vertelde het volgende:

˶Life is not easy in Panama, and sadly the country is not providing enough food to the poor people. It is getting difficult. As the last President used the emergency fonds for himself and some corrupt things happened (often not only in Panama) and the new President as well forgets about the poor. It is not easy, but we try to help and assist and share wherever we can as do many others. And then from one day to the other we live not anymore the Caribbean life, but “the la Vida Lockdown”. Here in Panama we are not as lucky as in Europe. Our President decided to more or less a lockdown.

There are simple but clear rules. And if you do not obey you will go to prison, as the fines are so high only rich people can pay. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s women are allowed to do shopping for two hours. Men only on Tuesday and Thursday. On Saturday and Sunday right now, no one is allowed to leave. The hours depend on your ID number. Only supermarkets and pharmacies are open. It is not allowed to buy or drink any sort of alcohol as well not in your home. Here in Panama we call it 'dry law' (ley seco). This is normally only on Good Friday and Flag Day.

In our country the government is not paying the companies who right now really cannot work. They do give out basic food: rice beans and oil but if there is no money, one cannot buy the gas to cook. People start to make wood fires again, which can be dangerous. Do not forget, mostly houses are built from wood.
We as Shana Travel try to work from home but as most of the hotels and B&B's are closed down, so it is difficult to reach people. We do our absolute best, but it is difficult. In the meantime I assist on a helpline for domestic violence as this like in many other countries in the world is a much bigger issue than normal. Normally here men are in their free time out and about, and the people are dancing in the local bars playing at the beach. All this is now not possible. People are not even allowed to go fishing. ‘La Vida Lockdown’ is something very difficult to handle for central American spirit of life.
For my daughter it is as well difficult. Our school years are starting in March to December, so they did not have school at all yet and the Minister of Education did not decide yet if this year will not be existing. So, every pupil misses a year or if they will start in July and then no big holiday in January and February. Until now it is all still in the air.

On the bright side: on the island of Bocas del Toro until now are no cases of Corona. The indigenous community of Ngoebe Bugle, the Embera and Wounaan Guna Yalas, who right away locked themselves off as well, have no cases of Corona. Though we do have Corona in the main country, although infection is going down.
For nature it is nice: the turtle laying their eggs without any disturbance. But the dolphin researcher from the Smithsonian institute says the dolphins in Dolphin Bay are getting a bit bored and it looks like they miss the tourists. As there is no fishing allowed anymore more and more fishes are coming closer to shore. My house is built on the water and for the first time in 20 years there was a shark swimming under my house.
Another community thing Bocas island accomplished in this times all over the village someone made dog feeding posts, so the street dogs who are normally having a happy well fed life with the tourist do not starve.

We hope once it is possible to travel again, people will choose our small beautiful country the Isthmus connection between central and south America. Latest news of our President this week: we will have a total lockdown for another 30 days and then it is open again. Let us hope in June everything turns back to the normal Vida Loca in Panama. Until then: Caribbean greetings, take care of yourself, your family and people less fortunate then you and most important: do not forget to laugh and sometimes just listen to some good salsa from our Ruben Blades to enjoy.

With happy carribean greetings, Schoschana"
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