Viajero (Traveller) In Panama #QuedateEnCasa (#ShelterInPlace)
After living in hotel suite number 304 for thirty four days, the logistics I am to follow in order to move to a new apartment this afternoon involve a detailed coordination, a somewhat complex operation, that consists of protective gear, a Panamanian concierge, a taxi driver, perhaps various checkpoints, and the allocated day and time I’m allowed to go outside (which is only for going to the supermarket or the pharmacy). Certainly not a straightforward move as when changing hotels during normal times.
After thirty four days of mental, physical, and spiritual toughness have passed while living in voluntary isolation in this small and modern hotel executive suite, which is a true testament to human stamina during an abnormal Twilight Zone like time, all in the name of #QuedateEnCasa (#ShelterInPlace), how trivial are my concerns now about Panama’s rubbish problem I so ardently wrote about in my previous journal entry?
Thirty four days ago the question was: Due to the rubbish issue, should I stay in Panama? But immediately thereafter the question changed to: Due to COVID-19, should I stay in Panama, go back to Texas, or go back to New Zealand? After considering a multitude of interconnected options within multiple periods of time and across different geographic domains, we decided to protect ourselves against the pathogen’s contagion by minimising exposure to other people as much as possible. So here we are in Panama. So here I am in Panama.
Governments the world over, impaired by the pathogen’s disastrous and hazardous consequences, locked down society to protect society.
Here in Panama the lockdown process started on Monday, March 16th.
Since the lockdown began, the Covid-19 pathogen has put at risk normality as I know it. Or, perhaps, the pathogen has already ended normality as I know it. Within three days after settling in this small and modern hotel suite, a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew expanded to a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that was then augmented a week later with implementing a regiment for everyone of only two hours of ‘outside’ time (for going only to a supermarket and or pharmacy), to be decided by the last digit of the identity document: for Panamanians their cedula and for me my passport. Thereafter, the restrictions expanded to women only allowed to go out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and men only allowed to go out on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. But wait, there is more… Then, second weekend into our stay, an all day and night curfew was mandated for Saturday and Sunday, which is still in effect, thus reducing the allocated time for me to go to the supermarket and pharmacy from 6 hours a week to 4 hours a week. Ouch!
Consequently, for thirty fours days, little by little, as if I was back in school, I apprenticed myself to study coronoviruses (origin and evolution), pandemics of the past (Black Plague, Spanish Flu, Yellow Fever), viral respiratory illnesses (SARS, MERS), infectious diseases (Influenza, Dengue fever), epidemiology (fatality rate, infection rate), immunology (cytokine, antibodies, vaccines), pharmaceuticals (Remdesivir, Azithromycin, Favipiravir), ecology (industrial agriculture), genetics (genomes, DNA and RNA)… Instead of avoiding the subject matter I took the challenge of ignorance head on to strengthen my self-defense and studied the topics from one to another, at times overwhelmed by the information. I learned in the course of my study new insights, new to me anyway, that led to on the one hand incongruity and on the other shock. For instance, incongruity from the apocryphal stories concerning the history of the pathogen’s origin (natural or man made?) and shock from the cruelty COVID-19 can perpetrate (cytokine storm) upon some humans but not others.
Although COVID-19 has radically transmuted the pathways along which we had normally travelled in, today we evolve by moving to where the grass is greener by breaking the lockdown rules. The COVID-19 pathogen, whether engineered in a lab or transferred from animal to human, has in a short span of time changed the intricate cultural and social world humans have developed and built. But as extras in this bizarre real-life movie, we volunteer to not play by the lockdown rules today. We venture to act with our own volition. We venture to execute agency. By virtue of our our personal power, our personal force, we venture to advance.
(Click on photograph to enlarge.)
But most importantly, within the physical and social environment we find ourselves in, within the context of staying in Panama, we venture to continue to stay healthy, be safe, and remain productive and buoyant.