The New Normal
As the world deals with the global pandemic with varying degrees of success, everyone questions what will it be like on the other side?
In Panama, since the first case was diagnosed, the government began rolling out restrictions on the daily lives of its citizens. As the virus spread, stricter measures were enacted, businesses, public facilities, and gatherings, stay at home edicts with minimal allowance for shopping, beaches closed, sanitary fences between communities, personal face mask requirements but nothing seemed to impact the ex-pat communities more than the alcohol ban.
Through it all, the government pledged to act based on scientific data and the wellbeing of its citizens. A multi-step plan was enacted to report, test, treat and trace patients. The medical system was not overwhelmed as social distancing worked to flatten the curve.
Grocery stores remained stocked, electricity bills are discounted, many financial and administrative burdens eased, and aid was provided via food packages and a small stipend of cash to those in need.
The alcohol ban was lifted though purchases limited. This lightened the mood for many.
As the first step to move towards removing restrictions, the online tone shifted as folks could now foresee a glimmer of hope. At the beaches, we got our first real rainfall of the season. New blossoms appear daily, nature continues on its course.
Some reflections on living the lockdown in Panama Pacific beach areas:
Many friends live in condo developments on the beach and seeing, hearing, smelling the ocean without being able to access is a major issue.
As time passes, many forget we as ex-pats are guests here and the rights and freedoms from back home do not apply.
Introverts and hobbyists seem to cope better with the lockdown.
Many in the community have stepped up, working tirelessly to provide assistance to the outlying communities.
The list is long but we want to send a special thank you to the following folks:
Dorothee Aufderkirche and Melissa Van Staden Coertse, who collect donations, shop, package and coordinate delivery to families in need. Sandbar who acted as a local repository for donations.
Beth McGuyton, who delivers food packages to 25 families in her area.
Sylvie & Michel Trouillat preparing hot meals for local families while keeping Picasso open for delivery orders.
The local non-profit organizations, Rotary Club and Coronado Bible Church, preparing food bags for those in need.
Karyn Saunders for her daily updates on the government conference calls, stats, and kind words.
All of the generous ex-pats who have contributed time, effort, and cash.
All of these people have reinforced our hope for the future, what many are touting the “new normal.”
Perhaps now is the time to reflect on your own experience in these times. How have you coped, physically, mentally, emotionally? What changes will you bring forward? What will fall away?
We have very little insight into the future and uncertainty is the only constant.
Someone said we are all in our own individual boats as we ride out the global storm. Each of us has their own experience. We cannot judge others based on our perspective.
When we all meet again, things will definitely be different. Just go online to see all the new ideas people are creating to adjust to social distancing. People need social interaction, our hugs and handshakes are no longer acts of connection. Perhaps wearing masks will become considered our gift to others and not a personal attack on freedom. Each of us is responsible for how we emerge from this pandemic, let’s remain a warm, giving, friendly community as we rebuild our lives.
Each day brings us closer to lifting of restrictions and we all play a part. Let’s open up based on intelligent consideration of health and economy and stay patient as we move forward.