Funny thing the human mind. We miss our family and friends at least twice as hard now that they can meet each other as our home countries have started opening up. It’s more than 3 months since we bought our one-way ticket to the Philippines and it might be that our longest ever adventure has made us home-sick or we are just suffering from a classic case of fear of missing out.
It is coronavirus quarantine day 73. As a comparison, Wuhan was closed for a total of 75 days. We are now on general community quarantine (GCQ) which is somewhat more relaxed than earlier enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) when we got stranded, at least on paper. In reality, we are required to follow pretty much the same rules and since the government has ordered all municipalities to allow the return of residents few confirmed positive coronavirus cases have reached our province of Bohol.
After the arrivals of remotely working Filipinos started and seclusion of the first coronavirus patient was reported some measures were intensified. When crossing a checkpoint with a car all passengers are required to step outside to walk over a disinfection liquid soaked mat before the regular temperature check is attended. This results in a growing line of checkpoint visitors waiting with a strict 2-meter distance from each other. Once all passengers are cleared the vehicle is sprayed to avoid the virus entering the area. At least now the checkpoints are manned by medical workers instead of military. The growth of polite conversation and lessening of visible assault rifles reduces tensions.
The kids are now allowed to leave the house twice a week. We enjoyed visiting the beach together for the first time in 2 months that one time until our home quarantine passes got invalidated. The local municipality governments realized that giving rights to everyone asking will not reduce the number of people moving around the island and started recording them to enforce the limit of one per household. I am the only one in my residence with a valid movement license.
Coronavirus situation will have a prolonged effect on families and especially the younger generation. The restricted movement, lack of community connection, and human interactions might cause a chain of problems for many of us. Our kid is used to be outgoing and meet lots of people every day. Now she is limited to neighborhood freedivers coming over to train with dad in our pool and the babysitter visiting. Luckily her caretaker’s kid comes over to play once or twice a week. It is very heart-warming to see them meet and hug with elevated energy levels.
Meribel had not left the house for a long time when more businesses were allowed to open. This made me feel so sorry for her that the toy stores returning to operations were able to sell us stuff our minimalist family normally avoids. As a positive result of the coronavirus, our kid is now eager to wash hands with great thoroughness.
We are eagerly waiting for the news for the next month. Will the quarantine be eased or lifted? Will the movement be resumed? Can we visit other parts of Bohol or even neighboring islands before departure? Can freediving schools operate again? When will international flights return? We are not making any plans before getting extra information. If we were keen on returning immediately there would probably be options that are not the most convenient when traveling with a toddler. Lots of testing, queueing, waiting in the airports with way too many extra stopovers. Our lockdown villa life is still comfortable and fun.