Normalcy in the Time of COVID-19

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My last post was pretty bleak, so I’ll start by saying, I feel much better. We’re still here in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, but things have gotten easier, as they tend to do. We’ve gotten used to this “new normal” of home-all-time, limited-grocery-shopping, daily-Zoom-calls, takeout-once-a-week, only-go-out-for-walks during the global pandemic. Being able to get used to most circumstances is a very human thing. 

There’s actually a lot that’s going well for us here. Our apartment continues to be comfortable and we’ve come to terms with using the A/C all the time. Even Chad is using it in the afternoons downstairs because his computer was overheating. Chad’s work is going well, which always puts him in a good mood. My work is keeping me very busy and I can tell I’m bringing value to the clients I have right now and succeeding in keeping my online students engaged. I’m a little worried about whether I’ll be able to attract any more new clients this year, but I’m taking proactive steps for my marketing. These are all things that are part of normal worries and concerns, so I think the fact that work has pretty well consumed these last two weeks shows that we’ve leaned into accepting our current circumstances.

Costa Rica continues to maintain a pretty flat curve and has increased its number of identified COVID cases by less than 20 per day in 14 of the last 15 days. For that past two days, the number of active cases here has gone down as the recoveries are slightly outnumbering the new cases identified. And there have been only four deaths here. Costa Rica seems to be one of the best places to be during this time and their government seems to be handling the crisis well. Also, still no shortages of things like toilet paper or cleaning supplies. I hear from people at home that they still can’t always find what they’re looking for.

Post-Easter and in light of the slow continued spread, the restrictions here have lightened up some, including the end of the ley seca (dry law). We still have two weeks remaining of our original six-week “alco-haul” supply mentioned in my prior post so our estimates were spot-on. But we splurged on a couple of local IPAs at the grocery store Friday since that was a beverage we hadn’t included in our stocking up. They were great!

Some restaurants are also starting to do eat-in business again here, though we still got delivery for date night last night (delicious lasagna and shrimp pasta from an Italian restaurant). The beaches and national parks and (most importantly) borders here are still closed until the end of the month, but as of this weekend, it feels like the end is in sight. Based on social media, that appears to be true in Missouri as well, though the statewide stay-at-home has been extended until May 3 and the urban areas have chosen mid-May. 

So, we’re starting to look at traveling home. There’s already been one repatriation flight from Costa Rica and two more scheduled. They’ve been selling out, so we hope that if regular commercial air travel doesn’t start up at least they’ll continue offering those periodically (we hope; of course demand could dry up once the initial three flights leave, but we hope there are enough Americans here that this isn’t the case). 

Our current hope is for a mid-May flight home, and that we’ll still be able to keep our second half of 2020 plans. Basically, we’re not going to cancel anything. If July rolls around and we find we can’t fly to England, we’ll reroute or cancel based on the circumstances then, but we’re not going to try to out-guess this pandemic. We’ll just deal with every step of our plans as they come.

Video of the howler monkeys down by Playa Ocotal

In the meantime, we’re enjoying our time here in Costa Rica. We continue to have wonderful daily walks and epic Saturday hikes (6 miles last weekend, which took us nearly three hours because of the incline involved) and cook and eat good food. We’re sleeping very well on our early-to-bed-early-to-rise schedule. We see the howler monkeys a couple of times a week and get at least a peek at the waves and beautiful coastline almost every day. We watched all of that Tiger King show and I binged the series Big Little Lies last weekend and we’re even watching documentaries again. 

I don’t have any more answers than I did when I wrote my post two weeks ago, but I’ve made peace with it. So much so that I’ll be posting next about our first four weeks in Costa Rica, when we had plenty of activities to enjoy and were first discovering its wildlife and beauty. Though I don’t see us returning to Costa Rica anytime soon once we’re able to leave, there is quite a lot to love here.

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