Monthly Archives: July 2020

Dairy: El Cajón de Grecia, July 21, 2020

We spent the whole of last week holed up at home, as the last digit of our license plate meant that we couldn’t drive. Driving restrictions is the tool the government is applying to keep people from going out and getting together in public, in groups. Those who had license plates that allowed them to drive – one week day and one weekend day – had to be off the road by 5:00 pm. and stay off until 5 the next morning. Most businesses were closed. For those essential businesses that were allowed to remain open,  wearing of masks remained mandatory and hand sanitizer application stations were placed at the entrances.

We hope this strategy works. The numbers last week were terrible, averaging ~500 new cases per day in a country of not quite 6 million people. This week restrictions are loosened up a little bit – we will have a total five days out of seven that we can be on the road between 5:00 am and 5:00 pm. Here, the alternating of strict and slightly less strict rules is called “the hammer and dance.” The Danse Macabre, maybe. That which, in the end, unites us all.

Our wi-fi went squirrelly last Saturday and then finally quit completely. No repair service over the weekend, so no internet, no email, no music. We’ve weaned ourselves off TV, so that didn’t matter. But our routines were disrupted. A couple or three days of not surfing the web, not checking the news. Funny to find that you can do without, you soon don’t miss it, fill the time with other things. The news isn’t news, really. Miss couple or few days, turn it back on, it’s the same old same old, giving you indigestion.

The other day a friend of ours called the ambulance thinking she might be having a stroke. Thankfully, it turned out to be real but not serious. She was rushed to the hospital. A little which later she called Irina saying she was already feeling better. Her speech was no longer slurred speech and she could feel and move her fingers again. The doctors did some tests and decided it would be best if they sent her to the bigger hospital in Alajuela where they did some more extensive tests and kept her for observation for a few days.

Folks in the States might find this hard to believe: nobody asked about insurance or where the money for hospitalization and treatment would come from. She will leave the hospital with no bill, no payment, no nothing except her health back. The hospital doesn’t even have a billing department.

Bless Costa Rica. Now if they can just manage to get the number of new coronavirus cases back down into the single digits. The number has been falling a bit so far this week, but there’s a long way to go.

¡Pura vida!



Diary: El Cajón de Grecia, July 11 2020: Locked Down Again

The coronavirus has  been raging in Costa Rica this past week, averaging almost 400 new cases daily with one day peaking at 649. Something had to be done if the country was to be able to trace contacts and test for infections.

So the government once again is locking the country down, hard. At least parts of it, areas where the new cases have been erupting, the “orange alert” cantons, which includes ours. All non-essential businesses are to be closed, the government has issued a list of those businesses it has deemed to be essential and able to operate, the list more restricted on weekends than on during the week. Driving is restricted based on the last number of vehicle license plates and allowed only two days a week, one weekend day and one week day. Trips are permitted solely to visit the specified essential services, and only between 5 in the morning to 5 in the evening. In “yellow alert” cantons, the rules are a bit less restrictive. Everywhere, face masks are required to be worn in public places.

Friday morning we drove to the feria. Safety precautions are in effect.  Early in the morning, a time set aside exclusively for old folks like us, I drop Irina off to enter at the exit, as only one person per car is allowed. I drive around to the entrance to the parking area where Eddie, who lives across from us in El Cajón, is manning the entrance and takes my temperature as I drive in. I put on my mandatory mask and wash my hands before entering the open air but covered market. Followed the arrows directing foot traffic, one way only, I make my rounds, people respectfully keeping their distance. Irina meets me at the car and we drive out. A young man is at the exit where we usually pay our five hundred colones parking fee, but he’s busy with incoming people and waves us through.

We stop at Rosvil on the way home for grocery shopping. Wash hands on the way in. A man standing at the door takes our temperature one by one, sprays hands with sanitizer, sanitizes the cart handle. Shopping done, stand in the check-out line a meter and a half apart. Our checker speaks English, explains he married an American woman, his father-in-law lives in Portland. Biggest city in Oregon, I say, he smiles. Small world.

Driving home from the feria and grocery shopping – which we won’t be able to do next Friday – we are reminded of how thankful we are to be here. Up the road to Cajón cars flash their lights or honk, and wave as they go by. We mostly doen’t know if we should know who they are, it hard to see through a glaring windshield. People walk along the street, stand at the bus stops, , talking to each other, wearing masks but smiling with their eyes. We stop at the Granja to pick up a dozen eggs, still chicken-warm, then at La Pacifica where customers wear masks and sanitize their hands  on the way in, no fuss. Workers at construction sites – lots of new houses going up in Cajón – look up and wave as we pass. Many people out and about that we recognize smile and wave without fail. During these trying times, we are blessed to be living in such a warm and friendly place

Next Friday we’ll take the bus down and a taxi back up the hill. We’ll find a way.

Pura vida.