Today, some exciting news! I have just booked my flight to Mexico City. I am going there in a week and will stay there for a week. All became possible, as I still have some holidays that I should use, and I am going to be receive my second dose of the anti-COVID vaccine in some days (which clears my schedule to travel), and finally as both Mexico and Panama seem to be on each other's green lists when it comes to COVID quarantine restrictions!
I am really excited to be travelling there for a number of reasons. First of all, when in Mexico, for a substantial part, I will be hosted by my friends whom I met in Thailand years ago. They live in Aguascalientes, and agreed to show me their place and look after me, when in the country. Then, it is also my first ever trip to Mexico, which makes it even more exciting. I look forward to discover a bit of the country's sites, history, food (!!!) and nature. Finally, it is needless to say that I have already got 'itchy feet' and I am so keen to travel again! All in all, I am very, very excited!
Panama City, Panama, May 2021
The uncertainty over how COVID-19 pandemics plays out in the world, as well as a relative slow roll-out of vaccines make all of us to be 'on hold', at least to some extent. This is also true for me. While I should be travelling around for my humanitarian missions, I am in a waiting mode. Although, I have already received my first does of the vaccine, there is still no news on when I may expect the second one to be administered, and this in itself puts most of my plans in jeopardy, or at least on hold. I just can't afford to leave Panama, knowing that they may call me to get the shot when I am far away. Also, as the countries keep on changing their biosecurity measures every now and then, it is really difficult to plan my work. There is a huge difference, when it comes to plans, if I am allowed to travel without long quarantines, or whether I would need to take them into consideration. I guess, there is not much that I can do about it, but being patient.
While stuck, I am trying to enjoy my prolonged stay in Panama City. Recently, I restarted my Portuguese lessons, so that I can separate my Spanish from Portuguese, or in other words, stop using 'Portughnol' (a phenomena, where people mix the two of these languages). The lessons are fun, and I am enjoying them a lot.
I am also trying to make new friends in the city. Somehow, I have managed to meet some new people recently, which is exciting and interesting.
If things go well (depending on receiving the date for the second vaccination), I might decide to go for a short break at the end of May. I do have a potential one week off to be taken, and consider visiting some parts of western Panama, or alternatively visit my friends in Mexico. I guess, I will be deciding in a last moment, and will not fail to let you know on this blog.
Family in Poland and Canada are all well. Great news that Mum, my brother and his wife, as well as Tahir are all vaccinated against COVID-19 (fully, or after the first dose). This somehow puts me at ease a little bit more!
Like many of us, I am following with a great concern the recent increase of tensions between Palestine and Israel. I know that reaching any kind of meaningful solution that would satisfy everyone is next to impossible at the moment, but somehow I hope that those in power will manage to back-off with unreasonable demands and start talking. The innocent people do not need to suffer the way they are doing now!
Closer to Panama, we are all very worried about the situation in Colombia too. The violent protests do not seem to be easing at all, and there is an urgent need to deescalate as well. As Colombia is within the region, where I work, the situation there, directly puts pressure on our own work, as a humanitarian agency, so that we are able to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable there.
Casco Viejo, Panama, May 2021
A month of May marks a number of holidays (international ones, as well as some which are specific to particular countries). Just to name a few: 1st Constitution of Europe Day in Lithuania and in Poland (used to be the Commonwealth of Lithuania and Poland), International Labour Day, EU Accession Day for Poland (and 9 other countries of Europe), Europe Day (also known as the Schuman Day). Multitude of holidays and celebrations have resulted with additional days off, and/or longer weekends. In 2021, celebrations of May, at least here in Panama, appear to be quite special. After 15 months of COVID-19 misery (health and economic), there are some very modest signs that we may be passing the point, after which, things may start stabilising and getting back to normality.
Vaccination campaign gather speed in many countries of the world, and although there are still some very dramatic examples of COVID-19's might (Brazil, India, Nepal, Sweden, or Mongolia), there is also some encouraging news. In general, many countries appear to have started controlling the spread of the disease, and the vaccines that are being administered globally genuinely help curbing the epidemic, and protect people from getting very sick. This makes me slightly more optimistic and a bit happier about the future.
I recognise that may optimism may derive from a fact that I have just received my first dose of the anti-COVID shot, and soon should be getting the second one? Not sure, but as I said, after a long time of doom and gloom, somehow I feel a bit more enthusiastic about months to come.
On Saturday, for example, I went out to a street bar, just next to my flat and sat at the open-air table with some friends, sipping a glass of red wine. All of the sudden, they started playing some Colombian music, and people started clapping and some began dancing on the street. All was very spontaneous, genuine and happy. We all clapped, we all appeared to enjoy it… just the moment of happiness after months of personal (on whatever level) miseries.
Today, I read news that more and more countries start considering easing travel restrictions too. Okay, all appears slow and careful, but the EU, USA mentioned possibilities for opening up to non-essential travels, if some conditions are met. Same goes to a number of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America… No, we are not where I would like us to be, but I am glad to be reading that at least we start talking of going back to normal. I miss meeting people that I love and I care for, and I desperately look for signs allowing me hope that I will be able to see my family and friends sooner rather than later.
Talking of travels… I should be on the road soon, as I prepare for travelling to Honduras, Barbados, and the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for work related missions (visiting humanitarian projects that we support in these countries). Also, later in the year, I should be travelling to Portugal (and perhaps to Poland) and Argentina (for work as well). I am still waiting for news when Canada may open its borders, as I am desperate to visit Tahir the soonest possible!