So far the quarantine had been rather relaxing. We had anchored at 4 different locations in the three weeks that we were “quarantined”. We swam, snorkeled the reefs and enjoyed being with our friends on Nilaya. We had limited internet, so were pretty much in our own world.
On April 3, we received a message from a fellow cruiser. They had changed the quarantine to one location only. This meant that we were no longer free to anchor, snorkel and enjoy the islands of Bocas del Toro. Where we were would dictate our existance over the course of the stay at home order. We were currently in the isolated Dolphin Bay. If we were to remain, we would have no access to groceries or other services (of which there were few). AND…..we had zero time to make up our minds! If we were moving, we needed to go.
We had battled a leaky water heater for several weeks. I know, it sounds like we always have maintenance issues! Many times we have heard that cruising is “repairing your boat in exotic places”. So, it’s not just us, although it certainly feels like it! Being in the heat, humidity and salt environment is very hard on both the boat and her equipment. So here we were needing to make a decision. Do we go to an anchorage that was near a small tienda (store) or go back to Bocas Marina where we can order parts to repair our water heater leak and have access to the several grocery stores in town. The leak was small, but annoying and used up our precious water while at anchor. We decided to get the issue fixed while we were waiting for the quarantine order to lift. Back to the marina we hurried, saying goodbye to our friends on Nilaya, who chose to continue anchoring near another marina.
The marina is a secure place to be with electricity and water, but we were not able to swim and we were constantly battling the “no-see-ums”. These are like mosquitoes, but very prolific and virtually invisible. So into the marina we went, closed up the boat and put the air conditioner in the companionway so that we could keep bugs out. The coolness is nice, but we are certainly confined to the interior of Slow Dancer.
More restrictions: You are only allowed into town for one hour. This is determined by your passport number. Or, in our case, if you are over 60, you get an extra hour. This includes travel time. From the marina, we would need to take a water taxi into town (15 minutes), shop and water taxi back (15 minutes). Since most of the stores do not have everything that one would need, we must travel the town to include at least two, but more often four of the local grocery stores. No hardware or specialty stores are open. And no alcohol sales.
More restrictions: Women are only allowed into town during their allotted time on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. So we could no longer go to town together. Men were given Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Everyone should remain in their “homes” on Sundays. This lasted one week, then Saturdays were designated as a shelter in place day, the same as Sunday. So men now had just Tuesday and Thursday to go to town.
We took turns running into town to get supplies. Even found a “black market” source for a few beers and a bottle of wine! But no hardware stores to get parts. We did get a temporary fix for our water heater and are now prepared to leave the marina. If we can.
Pamana’s “numbers” are good. And Bocas del Toro’s were 0. During the daily cruiser’s “net” we all log on to find out the latest news. Thinking that since we have been hearing 0 for so long, we were certainly going to be relieved of our restrictions. No such luck. We also watch the news for the countries on the way to Guatemala, which was to be our “hurricane hole” for the summer. No easing of restrictions and closer and closer it gets to summer.