161 Days of Quarantine in a Different Country
Back in 2016, I decided that I wanted a complete change of scenery, so I moved to Panama from Canada. It was great. I loved it! The change in culture, climate, and scenery was exactly what I needed and was looking for. Everything was perfect until Covid-19 hit in early 2020. Like most people, I thought it was going to be something that would only last for a short period of time. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I had no idea I was in for the biggest mental battle of my life!
Panama’s Covid cases ended up being really, really bad, based on the percentage of cases to people. Pretty early on Panama went into full lockdown. And when I say full lockdown, I mean really strict. Everyone, with the exception of essential workers, were meant to stay home at all times, except for two days a week where you were allowed to go to the grocery store and back home within a 2 hour window. The only problem with this was that they were cautioning people (especially foreigners) of being out because of the vulnerability with mugging and other crimes. Because of this, I wasn’t taking any chances. I stayed in my apartment with my dog for 161 days straight. I was in a beautiful country that I love but ended up being scared, lonely, deprived, and depressed while being alone for so long.
On top of everything, I was going through a divorce. Luckily, her and I had a very mutual separation, but divorces are never easy. This was someone I spent nearly a decade with so it was still a big adjustment. And divorce papers are never fun. And getting out of Panama was far from easy, too. They were only doing humanitarian flights once a month or so, and they were booking up immediately. I was finally able to get on a flight with my dog on August 7th, 2020 back to Canada. It was finally the end of my 161 days of quarantine.
Although this experience was something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, I did learn a lot about myself and what’s really important in life.
The Importance of Family
Never take your family for granted. I’ve always been a family guy but I’ve never missed my family as much in my life as I did when I was alone in quarantine. The highlight of every day was being able to Skype them. It was the only sort of human contact I had. I tried to appear strong for them because they were really worried for me, but on some nights when those Skype calls ended I would sit there and cry. It was so hard being away from them, especially since there was no way of getting home until flights opened up. I’ve never felt so out of control in all my life.
If you haven’t seen your family in a while, go see them. If you’re in a fight with someone in your family, it’s not worth it. Don’t waste any moment of your precious life with anger towards someone you love. It’s never worth it. Life’s way too short.
You’re Tougher Than You Think
As humans, we’re meant to persevere. We’re all going through something tough in life, and it’s okay to be sad or angry. But, whatever it is that you’re facing, know that you’re always stronger. Keep pushing through because things will get better.
I really surprised myself while being in lockdown. Maybe it’s because I had no choice, but I really felt tougher when I was finally done with it. And I was really proud of myself for holding it together while going through it. And, when I say “holding it together” I don’t mean that I wasn’t sad or anything. Believe me, I broke down many times over my 161 days. But, I was always able to pull myself back up and think positively. I would take each day at a time.
Hug Your Friends and Family, A LOT!
I think physical contact with people was the thing I missed most. People aren’t designed to be alone and without contact. We’re meant to hug and be affectionate with one another. When you hug someone, endorphins are released throughout your body giving you a happy and fulfilled feeling. When you’re not hugging and having types of physical contact, you’re literally depriving yourself. The pros of hugging are endless. Make sure to hug your friends and family as much as you can, not only because you love them, but because it’s good for you as well.
We Don’t Need Much To Live A Happy Life
During the lockdown I was with my dog, Harper. She’s a little rescue dog from Panama who I ended up getting about a year before Covid hit. She was everything to me during those 161 days. Dogs (or any animals of any kind) are so pure and require so little. They’re so happy just to be with you. Every single day she would put a smile on my face. I think I’m very lucky to have her.
She taught me that I only need a few simple things in life to really be happy. Besides your health, family, and true friends, there’s really nothing else that comes even close. I wouldn’t trade one of those things for all of the money in the world. We focus way too much on what’s not important (or what we don’t have), rather than what we do.
If I could give any advice from what I learned about being alone for so long, it’s that you should never take for granted what you do have. Never sweat the small stuff when it comes to family or friends (your animals, too) because they’re your everything. At the end of the day there’s really nothing else that matters.
Do you agree? What are your thoughts?