Playing football with a REAL boy

In its ongoing battle to stave off Covid 19, Panama has imposed one of the strictest lock downs in the world. Since the middle of March, children have not been allowed out on the streets at all until last week, where they had 6 days of limited freedom. Today we are back to total quarantine. Here’s how we are faring!

First, I should say we are very, very lucky. I live in a residential community of about 90 houses in an area called Costa del Este. Inside these gates, right through this period we have been able to walk, run, cycle, like rats in a maze, around and round and round. And my husband and I have. Sometimes twice a day. Alone, with each other, more recently with neighbours we are only now slowly beginning to meet. Sometimes we drag the children around with us, though they just don’t see the point. It’s been an absolute life saver. All around us, huge apartment blocks tower into the sky where people, and more distressingly, children have now been confined for months and months.

Just within the last two weeks – after about 10 weeks of not being allowed go – our children have been going to the little playground in the square in the middle of our community. The first day we went, the girls and I took a scrubbing brush and a bucket of suds and we gave all the equipment a wash, mainly to get off all the leaves and bird poop. They were over the moon to be able to climb and swing again.

At the beginning, I stayed hovering close by with the kids’ masks in case other people were wearing theirs (it is compulsory in Panama to wear them on the streets), but as the days go past it seems more and more kids are coming without them. And the boys have started playing football again on the little astro turf pitch. After weeks of me reluctantly playing the sweatiest football of my life, the other day my son came home and said the magic words, ‘I was playing football with a REAL boy!’

When we chose the house, we never could have imagined just how much time we would be spending in it, and we are so grateful every day for our garden and a small pool. Yesterday I did a tethered swim for about 20 minutes which felt like a microcosm of our whole situation. Swimming on the spot. Stuck in our little patch of luxury, going nowhere. Trying our best to stay fit and sane but for every stroke you make forwards, you’re relentlessly pulled back.  Knowing we can’t complain, knowing how lucky we are in comparison to so many others, but this just isn’t what living in a country as interesting as Panama was supposed to be!

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