Stuck in the Time of COVID-19

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Or, All the Things I Hate About This Stupid Pandemic

We’ve been in Costa Rica for almost six weeks now and in our chosen “shelter-in-place” home in Playas del Coco for two weeks. Here’s a link to my prior post about how we ended up here.

We don’t regret our decision to remain in Costa Rica and still feel that this place on the Pacific Coast meets our needs. We extended our Airbnb rental here through the end of April and our hosts were kind enough to negotiate a pretty good rate on it. There are several things about this apartment that make it a good fit – the bikes, the laundry, a great kitchen with hot water, nice workspace for Chad, outdoor seating by the closed pool that is just for us since the complex is nearly empty. But, it is very hot here, so I use the A/C more than I’d like, and we can really only get out in the early morning or early evening when the temps quickly drop about 15 degrees to bearable.

A New Routine

The beaches are closed. The pools are closed. Anything requiring a ticket or entry fee is closed. Bars and movie theaters and malls are closed (not that Coco has any malls or movie theaters). The restaurants are take out/delivery only (for all intents and purposes, and I certainly wouldn’t want to eat out right now anyway). So there’s not a lot to do but stay in and work, which in some ways has been good for us. And, because I like planning and scheduling and strategizing, we’ve incorporated a few traditions into a nice routine here.

  • Early to bed and early to rise: we’re generally sipping coffee by 5 a.m. and in bed for the night between 8 and 9 p.m.
  • Start and end the day with a walk – usually at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., but sometimes one or the other is replaced with a bike ride (and sometimes we only get out once).
  • Participate in the weekly food drive in town on Friday or Saturday. 
  • Grocery shopping on Tuesday morning and Friday afternoon.
  • Friday is date night (except this week, it was Thursday due to the new curfew on driving for Holy Week), which means cocktails on the patio and take out or delivery from a restaurant.
  • Saturday mornings we do a long bike ride and brunch.
  • Zoom events – Sunday morning church followed by a video call with my parents. Tuesday morning I have a prayer group and Thursday afternoon a nomad hangout. Plus more calls with friends.

All these things I really like. They help make this whole situation just a little bit better, and sometimes a lot better.

But, This is Really Hard

Although much of this stuff is really petty, so many things are less than ideal in this situation, I’m just going to take a moment to vent. Here are just a few of the things I hate about our situation right now:

  • It is so hot here.
  • We haven’t visited the secret beach much because I can’t really enjoy it in these circumstances (it feels weird to break rules in a time of crisis, which makes it hard to relax and enjoy).
  • Our wifi is really slow (but at least consistent!) and our cell phones don’t work in our complex.
  • One grocery store, Auto Mercado, is nice, but also really expensive and is now limiting only one shopper per family. Because we have to bike there, we really both need to go and not being able to go in together makes shopping take twice as long. (Side note follow up to my last post: Auto Mercado sells wine, even though there is a dry law in effect; apparently the rumor that wine is exempt was true, it was just that the other two stores we visited weren’t choosing to sell wine. We probably wouldn’t have gone all the way to Liberia Walmart if we’d known that, but I’m glad we did so we have rum and beer too.)
  • Biking in the heat is really hard and tiring. Really there’s a small window of daylight when it is not unbearably hot that we have to try to do the grocery shopping (either in the late morning after the older adult hours or late afternoon, which interferes with Chad’s run).
  • They’ve really upped the restrictions for Semana Santa (Holy Week). No driving after 5 p.m., which means stores and restaurants may have to close earlier and we may not be able to get date night food delivered.
  • Social media is fairly awful with people admonishing each other to stay home and sharing way too much personal information in silly list games, but I can’t keep myself off it. Same with the news.
  • I want to be productive and there are definitely things I could be doing, but I just don’t feel motivated.
  • We have no idea when commercial flights will resume here.
  • Three different airlines owe us refunds for canceled flights and at least two of them are being difficult about it. I am grateful that Airbnb made things easy to cancel, but we’ll see what the second half of the year brings.
  • There’s so much uncertainty. I have no idea what the economic situation is going to do to my business. Or Chad’s. Or our ability to keep traveling.

I realize that I should be practicing gratitude for our blessings (of which there are many, not the least of which is our health). But I just don’t feel very grateful. I feel mad and sad and scared. Occasionally those emotions seesaw in the other direction to have moments of calm/acceptance/normalcy or even, I admit, gratitude/joy/engagement. But overall, this whole thing – people’s health at risk, job losses, markets down, borders closed, travel stopped, horrible political rhetoric, misinformation – really, really sucks. 

I think part of what I’m feeling is regret. I feel like we just got our ideal life figured out – seeing the world, growing rewarding businesses, systematically saving for the future, prioritizing time with each other on the road and time with family and friends at home. We were thriving. And with COVID-19, it all came to a screeching halt, for who knows how long. A month, a year, more? We just don’t know.

I Hate Uncertainty

One thing that I love about our travel lifestyle is planning our destinations months (sometimes over a year!) in advance. But now, we have no idea how long we’ll be in Costa Rica, how long we’ll have at home, whether we’ll be able to go to Europe in July as planned or keep any of our other well-made plans through the end of the year. 

We don’t know when we’ll get to do Peru, which I was really looking forward to. We don’t know when we’ll see our families and friends in person again. We don’t know if it will still be easy to find affordable flights and Airbnb accommodation after all this, or if the travel landscape will have completely changed. We don’t know if our whole livelihoods and lifestyle will have to change. We just don’t know. And that’s the hardest part.

Normally I’d try to summarize a blog post like this on a lighter note, but at this point, I just don’t have it any me. But part of the point of doing this travel blog was to document our actual experiences of life on the road, and this is what I’m actually feeling right now. 

The tagline for this website is “A blog about travel and freedom.” There is very little of either of those things in the time of COVID-19.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Lynda says:

    Thinking of you! My prayer is that you will remain strong and positive ! We will make it thru this ordeal and it will make us a better person — we will appreciate the simple things: friendship, family health and the ability to be mobile
    May God watch over you…
    Lynda Baumgartner

    1. Jaime says:

      Thank you, Lynda, for the kind words and prayer. I agree with you – this is certainly making us stronger. I’m doing my best to stay positive but also trying to give myself grace when I’m not positive. I think kindness is the key to getting through this. Take care and be well!

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