Saturday, March 14, 2020 – Boquete, Panama
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. For I, the Lord your God will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ Isaiah 41:10, 13 NKJV
The dear Lord is graciously healing me of the fever and diarrhea. This morning my kind cleaning lady, June, has made it her mission to help me with my Spanish. She told me and her husband who lives with her at the hostel, “We only speak Spanish with Pamela! No English!” After breakfast, I asked her to point me to the beautiful town library which I passed yesterday. She said, “Don’t worry, I will walk with you there.” She locked the hostel door and we walked briskly down the busy street past grocery stores, the clinic, barbershop, and hardware store. She introduced me to several of her friends along the way.
The next block became more residential with some higher-end hotels. Whenever we passed flowers, she told me the name of them and I repeated it 5 times to help me remember. We turned the corner and she pointed to the library and bid me goodby. I thanked her for her time.
I entered the spacious colorful ground floor and asked the librarian if I could use one of the computers since I couldn’t connect to the wifi in the hostel. He said, “Yes, for one hour.” After checking my emails, I wrote a summary of my first week to friends. Then I found the bathroom and washed my hands thoroughly. I took the elevator to the third floor and looked at the photographs on display from a local talented person. A lady teaching a class to a handful of young adults welcomed me to the library. On the second floor, I browsed through books, noting about half were in English and half in Spanish. Many of them appeared to be donated.
I especially enjoyed looking at the 1976 World Book Encyclopedia that reminded me of the set we had as a child. With fondness, I recalled the hours I spent reading through the volumes looking at the color photos of exotic places wishing I could see them someday. Little did I know that God would give me the desire of my heart and allow me to visit about 30 countries as an adult.
After a couple hours, I went across the street and ordered lunch from the restaurant where our tour group ate the previous Thursday. But now it was sadly empty except for me. The cooks and waitress all wore masks because of coronavirus.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
The Lord gave me a pleasant quiet day. The pastor of the local English church emailed me and the other members a podcast of his message with prayer requests for the congregation. Thankfully, I finally connected to the wifi at the hostel and can read emails and ebooks on my kindle. I sat in the sun in the small backyard of the hostel and listened to the birds as I read. I thanked God for this little refuge.
At noon, I decided to take a walk and find a place for lunch and look more closely at the town flower gardens by the river. After a couple of blocks, nothing looked familiar. I asked directions from some local teens following me and walked another block. It still didn’t seem right so I pulled out my phone and entered Boulder 54 restaurant near the gardens on Google walking maps. Sure enough, I had gone the wrong way and turned around.
Twenty minutes later I arrived at the empty restaurant, the site of our fun cooking class on Thursday. I greeted our waiter from Thursday who sat alone at a table reading his phone messages. He jumped up and said they were open and seated me overlooking the gardens. I enjoyed a delicious vegan lunch while listening to the pleasant classical music. I chatted a little with the waiter, paid my bill and left. I later learned they closed the restaurant that evening because of the virus and switched over to take out only.
As I arrived at the garden gate, it began to sprinkle and the wind picked up. I decided to walk back to the hostel and wait to visit the gardens another day. Now I regret that decision because there was no time later to return.
I arrived back at the hostel and looked at the tour’s private Facebook page. The tour owner said the President of Panama ended all flights to and from Europe last night at midnight and that all flights to the USA would be stopped this coming week. As of tomorrow, no one will be permitted to enter Panama except their citizens and those who hold a permanent visa. If anyone wants to leave early, they should reschedule their flights as soon as possible. The airlines are waiving change fees. All who stay here must quarantine in place for the next 2 weeks. All hotels, restaurants, and beaches are closing.
I asked the Lord to make it clear if I should leave now or stay until April 2nd as originally planned. My telephone just quit working. I put my USA chip back in but it still doesn’t work. I downloaded the Delta app on my iPad, but it’s crashing. I downloaded the Air BNB and VRBO apps on my iPad to look for a place where I can isolate in my own kitchen if I can’t get a flight. And my fever is back up to 99.7 F. I don’t think anyone will let me on a plane with a fever. After hours of searching, I found a place for rent for the next 3 weeks that will cost me about $1000, but I would rather quarantine in my own home in the USA if my fever goes away. I committed everything to the Lord and finally fell asleep at 1 a.m.
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5 NKJV