Coronavirus & living on Roatan
We’ve been trying to write about Coronavirus on the island of Roatan in the Honduran Bay Islands for some time now, but it’s hard. It’s almost like we need a new language to even begin thinking about what the world is going to be like now and for the foreseeable future. Speaking and writing in this new world isn’t easy. Like lots of folk around the world, we’ve been paralyzed, creatively shut down, blocked and unable to write much more than a few words at a time, even though we’ve been on complete lockdown for thirteen days now.
The local government here, working in conjunction with state and the federal government on the mainland of Honduras has done a great job of attempting to contain the Covid-19 virus. All traffic to the island has been completely shut down since March 16th. Only cargo ships are still allowed on the island, and none of the employees are allowed off. There are only empty planes landing at the airport to fly citizens back to Canada, the USA, Spain, Czech Republic, France, Italy, and other destinations. They’re letting anyone that wants off the island a chance to get back to their respective homes.
The response of the local level government, from the Governor Dino Silvestri to the Mayors and Congresspeople working with him here on Roatan and on the mainland of Honduras has been nothing short of exemplary. Dino has been the example, staying home, wearing protective equipment when out and working relentlessly to get foreigners, tourists and residents back to their many different homes, among many other responsibilities. His daily Facebook Group live meetings are interactive and highlight just how smart, funny, and passionately motivated Dino is to keep people informed about what is happening in the Covid Crisis today. He’s an example, not just to those who seek to run things in the Bay Islands or in Honduras, but to those exPats residing on Roatan and the Bay Islands who still cast absentee ballots back home. Imagine if Governor Cuomo answered questions live on Facebook from home on his couch? Imagine if Trudeau was that responsive. Regardless, Dino and Cuomo and their teams are doing a great job cutting through the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) clogging the airwaves non-stop.
Things are by and large good here on Roatan with loads of available food for delivery from grocery shops and some restaurants open for takeout and delivery. Gasoline, diesel and natural gas are all readily available, and there is no evidence of the kind of hoarding that's left shelves empty back home. Hopefully once the initial ABSOLUTE QUARANTINE order (14 days in the Bay Islands) expires in a few days on March 30th, the local government should be able to let some local businesses open up again (assuming there are still zero cases of Covid-19 detected on Roatan or the Bay Islands). Lifting the absolute quarantine would be huge and would allow the semi-normal operation of some businesses shuttered by the State of Emergency, meaning people would be able to go out and keep working on construction sites, and they’d be able to keep fixing the road and working on the new municipal center and it would let dive shops open up again and let fishermen go back out, and it would let grocery stores open and restaurants serve their customers again. And some parts of the island would get back to a slow season type of operation, and some businesses would be able to start generating revenue again.
Tourism will only return when the authorities deem it safe to open up the borders again and that is, at best, some number of weeks away. Dino says 30 days at least but we suspect it's more likely that we’re talking months of island isolation. There are many stranded on the mainland who want to return to their families in the Bay Islands, as well as foreigners trapped in places all over the world who want to come back to their homes on Roatan. When they can return is uncertain. All we know is that for now, we’ve got to make sure that we take care of each other, those of us who remain on Roatan, because no one else is going to get here for a while. So let’s make the most of our time in solitude.
Steve has a novel to finish (the "cult" novel) and another one that he has to finish a rough edit on (the "island" novel) and he’s got a lot of work that needs to get done on City Dogs like changing the oil, changing the coolant, changing filters for the water maker and more. Andrea is trying out all kinds of new recipes. She’s making a new kind of bread right now.
We can’t wait to try it out. Fozzie is recovered from his rabies shot and back to being a salty island schnoodle again, happily slurping up momma’s chicken soup over his dry food in the morning and playing all day long with the ball and the rope and all his other toys. Mischa is still trying to figure out how to get down off the deck so she can chase the guatusas.
We just finished The Tiger King on Netflix. It was as good as everyone is saying. Just superb television. Truth is stranger than fiction in action. No one could make up a character like Joe Exotic. Probably going to delve into Succession season two next. The first season was such an amazing ride, we’re hesitant to jump right into the next one. Anyone have any suggestions? Hit us up in the comments below or on Instagram with what you’ve been watching during the Coronavirus Quarantine.