Panama, Panama, what are you doing to us? I was so pleased this summer to see how well Panama was dealing with the pandemic. Everyone was wearing masks and practicing social distancing, and cases were going down, from a high of 1200 new cases a day, the numbers fell and were sitting at 200-400 new cases a day. Then something happened. I don't know exactly what prompted the change, whether it was weariness of it all, or because of a series of National holidays in November.
November 3rd was Separation Day, celebrating the independence of Panama from Colombia in 1903.
November 4th was Flag Day
November 5th was Colon Day or the consolidation of the separation from Colombia. The story here is that there were 500 troops stationed in Colon to maintain Colombia's hold on the Panamanian isthmus. The publisher of the newspaper, the mayor of Colon and those with liquor licences conspired to buy up all the liquor in town and deliver it to the soldiers and all the troops got drunk. By the time the sobered up enough to notice, the USS Nashville had landed and US troops were patrolling the streets. The Colombian troops got on a ship and sailed away and Panamanians have celebrated it ever since.
November 10th is Los Santos Uprising Day, the beginning of Panama's struggle for independence from Spain in 1821
November 28th is Independence Day from Spain
December 8th is Mother's Day
Prior to the holidays people were being pretty good. Then the holidays came and more and more people were disregarding the government mandated protocols. Many charter boats were taking large groups out to the islands with no social distancing and no masks. More people were seen out and about without masks and very little regard to social distancing. Then, in December the numbers started to rise.
We are seeing new cases regularly above 3000 a day and still people are out without masks. Family gatherings, charter boats, people exercising spreading the virus. We go for walks in the evening and feel the need to cross to the other side of the road to avoid the crowds or to cut our walks short when both sides of the street are crowded.
Then the new lockdown decrees began.
The Christmas weekend was a total lockdown, New Year's will be as well. Then came the coup de grâce, the final blow.
We are going back to Gender days. Women get Mon,Wed Fri men get only Tues, Thurs and only for groceries, pharmacies, hardware and essential services. In addition, we only get two hours, travel time included, times assigned according to your national ID or passport, unless you are over 60, then you go out in the heat of the day 11-1.
Bob went grocery shopping today, on a men's day and said the grocery store was so packed that they needed traffic cops to guide the flow of the carts in the aisles. This is supposed to stop the spread of the virus, how?
So, we hang on, muddle through, try to get our work done so that we can move on to bluer pastures, holding our collective breaths, hoping that no other wrenches are thrown in our way.