The Mariners Hotel, Arons Vale, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, July 2021
The second attempt of travelling to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, an archipelago in the eastern part of the Caribbeans has proved to be successful. After transferring through Miami (see a gallery of pictures from Miami here), I am now at my hotel in the place called Arons Vale, just outside of Kingstown, the country's capital.
As we know, however, life is never perfect, and some frustrations remain. Although I managed to get to the country, before I am allowed to start working, I have to complete 7 days of quarantine. I think, it is still a considerably small and an understandable nuisance. The authorities do not want to take chances, when it comes to spread of COVID, given the limited resources the country has to support its health infrastructure. And frankly, my view (see the picture above) from my quarantine hotel makes things as pleasant as humanly possible. When you add good food, and friendly staff, then there is really nothing to complain about. Except lack of physical activities, which is a bit boring, I am not actually complaining of having nothing to do. I carry on working, catching up with working reports and reading details of the project that I am going to visit (as you may remember, this is a project related to the response to the powerful volcano explosion, which took place around a month ago).
If my second COVID test gets negative, I should be out of the quarantine this coming Saturday. I will then start moving around the island and will report to you what I will have managed to experience (both in and out of work). Until that happens, stay safe and well!
Approaching the Tocumen International Airport, Panama City, June 2021
After the unsuccessful attempt of the mission to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), I have been dealing with the consequences of the 'false negative' COVID test (mainly forced self-isolation), and trying to re-arrange the trip from the scratch.
Now, after writing dozens of emails back and forward, additional new COVID tests (all negative), I am set to try travelling again on Friday.
Not all of the obstacles are out of the way yet. Before boarding the plane, I will need to carry another COVID test on Wednesday. I am a bit worried of it, given that experience shows that the laboratories can mess-up, and indeed, if it happened once, it may happen again!
However, if all goes according to plans, I will be in Miami on Friday, stay there for an afternoon and the night, and then continue travelling to Kingstown, the capital of SVG on Saturday.
Then, I will be in the country for 2 weeks, before returning to Panama. I will write about the mission more, already from the country, if I get to reach my destination! Wish me luck!
My flat in Casco Viejo, Panama, July 2021
I have decided to modernise the look of my website a bit, so that it is (hopefully) nicer to look at, but more importantly easier to navigate and use. While, the desktop/laptop version should be very similar to what you are used to, I believe that there will be substantial improvements when using the site on your mobile devices (as it is designed to fit the mobile phones better).
On other news, I am getting absolutely distressed and depressed about news coming from Poland. The ongoing attacks on free press, undermining the institutions meant to guard the rule of low steadily take place in the country. Despite some clear good work that the present government has managed to do, when it comes to development of infrastructure of economy, it is so sad to see how much the country has regressed on freedoms and human rights values.
Finally, on a more cheerful note, I have restarted my preparations for travelling to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, after the cancellation following my false positive test on COVID-19. If all goes according to plan, I should be travelling on 23rd July. Keep your fingers crossed, so this time around, the trip will be surprise free!
As it seems, the mystery of the COVID-19 infection is solved. I run to additional tests for COVID-19 infection, the following day, after my initial test returned positive, just to find out that I have no COVID, and that there is no infection in my body (this included PCR test, as well as the blood test). In the same time, the blood test confirmed that I have very high level of anti-bodies, which suggests that I am responding well to the vaccines that I had received (here is good news).
The doctor believes that my initial test was a 'false positive', due to potential mistakes that had been done while taking my samples/carrying out the initial test.
Whatever the reason, the consequences are substantial: cancelled (important) humanitarian mission (as I could not board the plane), costs of tickets, costs of cancelling the hotels, frustration on a part of my hosts (UN, IFRC, and the host authorities), temporary closure of our office in Panama, panic of my mother, a major uspet on my side.
Not only the above, it seems like, even if the authorities of Panama recognise that I am negative (and the initial test was most likely 'false positive'), I am under the obligatory quarantine of 14 days, and it is unlikely to be lifted.
I will spare you from bad language, but you can only imagine how upset I am not to mention the disappointment…
The positive is that the situation trains my patience, teaches a bit of humility, as it forces you to deal with stuff that you have absolutely no influence over. And yes, it is good to know that I am healthy and it was a false alarm, after all!
Sunset from the rooftop of my flat, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama, June 2021
Really bad news today, which made me upset and extremely frustrated!
As I was packing and getting ready for my trip to Kingstown in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the results for the PCR test for COVID-19 returned to me, and disturbingly, with a mark: DETECTED, meaning that I am potentially carrying a COVID-19 virus.
The news is ever more disturbing, as I have already had COVID-19 last year (quite severe, as some of you may remember), and more so, I have received two doses of anti-coronavirus vaccine, with the second dose being administered a little over a month ago (thus technically, it should have created the antibodies). Then, I am also feeling really well, and I have no symptoms whatsoever… thus being even more unsuspecting… All in all, I had to cancel the trip and deal with the potential infection - meaning that I will be under quarantine again.
My doctor here in Panama, tells me that it is unusual to get reinfected, and wants to pass new tests tomorrow, including the PCR test, to make sure that the today's result is not 'false positive', which allegedly happens occasionally. Whatever the result, I am clearly stuck for at least some days, and very distressed and frustrated that I can't carry on with my work.
In case, I am genuinely reinfected, I am very grateful that I got my vaccines working on me and protecting me - clearly preventing me from suffering physically (as I mentioned, I am really feeling well).
So the lesson is: do get your jabs, if you have a chance! You are likely to be better off, in case of infection, and clearly, the more of us having it, the quicker we manage to reduce the numbers of the sick people, and return to some sort of normality.
Get your jabs, avoid crowds, and stay well!