DATELINE April 4, 2020, Medellín, Colombia.

We’re feeling a little more downbeat this week.

There’s been a lot of gloomy COVID-19 pandemic news lately: By some estimates, a third of humanity is now under some type of movement restriction. The global food supply chain is holding up for now but is on shaky ground. It’s been hard to shake the horrifying images from Guayaquil, Ecuador, a city that has been completely overwhelmed by the coronavirus. It seems an anomaly, since the rest of Ecuador and most other South American cities and countries are managing the crisis reasonably well.

meme Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: It's Getting Real Colombia COVID-19 The Expat Life
Another meme that caught my eye. Why does this STILL have to be spelled out for people?

And the U.S. . . . oy vey. How is it possible, during a global COVID-19 pandemic, that the governor of New York has to beg and plead for lifesaving equipment? That getting federal help seems to depend on how much your governor has kowtowed to POTUS? That some states have STILL not mandated shelter-in-place or other critical measures? How is it possible that one governor is so ignorant as to claim he “didn’t know” people without symptoms could carry the virus? (I call BS on that one – methinks he was just trying to cover his behind.)

As one popular Facebook meme says, “Having some states lock down and others not lock down is like having a peeing section in the swimming pool.”

Meanwhile in Colombia: In one week, official case numbers have jumped from 608 to 1,406, and from 6 to 32 sad deaths.

Most of the new fatalities are men and women over age 50. I’d wager many of them are abuelos and abuelas, beloved by their children and grandchildren. Hopefully none of them died alone, with no loved ones to mourn or remember them. There are also numerous younger people, including a 19-year-old from Barranquilla. People who had hopes and dreams, with their whole lives ahead of them. May they all rest in peace and their friends and families find comfort.

One glimmer of hope in the COVID-19 pandemic is that Colombia seems to be keeping its curve relatively flat, compared to other countries and the hockey stick that is the U.S. Here’s an informal chart I found that compares the rise of cases in a select group of countries (the huge caveat, of course, is that these are KNOWN cases and based on the countries’ reporting accuracy). Colombia is the blue line at the bottom:

covid-graph Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: It's Getting Real Colombia COVID-19 The Expat Life

Here in Medellín, the city is continuing to mobilize its hospitals and healthcare resources for a coming avalanche of cases. Two stories in today’s news:

Oh, and there’s one more positive development that’s making life a lot easier here: the rainy season finally arrived and the air quality has improved immensely!

DECADB5E-75FC-4CBF-89B6-398E76A23A6A_1_201_a-1024x768 Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: It's Getting Real Colombia COVID-19 The Expat Life
Ahhh, fresh air!

25C53BA4-8EE1-449E-A92A-7907F7749EAB_1_201_a-804x1024 Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: It's Getting Real Colombia COVID-19 The Expat Life Shopping has gotten more interesting here.

Just this week, the city of Medellín finally implemented its “Pico y Cédula” program, which restricts shopping to twice a week per individual, based on the last number of your cédula (national ID card). Only one person is allowed to enter a store at a time, and queued people must leave at least a one-meter distance between each other (most stores have lines on the floor to make it easy).

Yesterday was my day for Pico y Cédula, but only one of the three stores I visited looked at my cédula. Also, the lady behind me in the check-out line wasn’t wearing a mask and was standing right behind me, instead of standing on her line. Maybe it needs a few days to catch on. . .

These measures are designed to limit the numbers of people inside the stores at one time, but so far we’ve encountered no lines and relatively empty stores. With the exception of one store and a few items, supplies seem pretty good. Wheat flour, honey, and rubbing alcohol are in short supply, however. During this COVID-19 pandemic there are absolutely no masks to be found, so we’ve been using the improvised bandana method.

D7628114-E940-45E0-A9C5-CE63737DA66A_1_201_a-1024x907 Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: It's Getting Real Colombia COVID-19 The Expat Life
John toes the line in the supermarket. Note: the bandana mask trick using hair ties works!
20B73608-D84B-4B5C-9F7E-016322D82648_1_201_a-1024x937 Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: It's Getting Real Colombia COVID-19 The Expat Life
We’re so glad we can support our little corner grocery. They have a great selection of produce, and today, a bonus – WHEAT FLOUR! Stay tuned for the great bread-baking experiment.

For us, Monday will be a full month of social isolation with no end in sight.

It all felt a bit novel at first, but now the longer-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are sinking in. What will the world be like when this finally blows over? How many millions of people will die, and how many billions of others will have their lives irreversibly altered? Will countries and governments learn from the horrific mistakes being made now, or will they fall back into the same old patterns?

On a more personal level, will our friends and family survive this unscathed? We already know several people with friends and family members who have taken ill and – sadly – died. On a social level, will we ever get back to a place where we can hug our friends or shake someone’s hand without cringing? Carry on an unmasked conversation without worrying? Will we ever feel truly safe again, or will we always be subconsciously wondering when the next big threat will hit?

Here’s another meme I spied on Facebook today. This was posted by blogging friend Luna Mariposa (check out her lovely blog here). John and I avoided most of the pitfalls of the fear zone (panic buying, hoarding) and we fall somewhere between the learning zone and the growth zone. I think there’s plenty of wisdom here for anyone that’s struggling with the “new normal” that the COVID1-9 pandemic has imposed on us.

648D5B8A-21E0-45AF-90BB-898CE31CD499 Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: It's Getting Real Colombia COVID-19 The Expat Life

Until next week, amigos: stay home, wash your hands, and be safe!

28 Comments

  1. Good to know that you’re healthy and doing well, and that Columbia is working to keep people safe. I won’t even start on what’s happening here in the US, suffice it to say with the current leadership it’s going to be a very long slog until we come out the other side of this. We are fortunate in that we live in Maryland, with a very proactive governor who isn’t afraid to fight for his state. We are on day 21 of “stay at home” but we are allowed to get exercise, so there are a lot of long walks.

    I agree in that our lives, and the world as we know it, will never again be the same.

    Take care

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I could write a whole post on the situation in the U.S., and how frustrating it is to be watching it all from afar. And feel utterly powerless to do anything about it (except vote in November). Glad your governor is taking things seriously. Isn’t it a shame that governors in the “United” States have to fight for what they need to keep their people safe? What happened to the “unity” part of “United?”

      Anyway, glad you’re able to exercise outside. We miss being able to walk more than 20 minutes at a time (on our dog walks). But this too shall pass.

  2. You are so correct about the mixed bag that passes for leadership in the United States (at both the federal and state level. I love the Corona Virus zone and plan to use it with attributions (of course.) I like reading other countries views on this pandemic.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks! When we started this, it was more for us to keep a record of these extraordinary times, so we can look back in a couple of years and say – OMG, remember when that happened? But we’re glad it’s interesting and hopefully an inspiration to others as well. Hope you’re staying safe and healthy!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I’ve tried to trace it to the original source without much success. It’s making the rounds on social media right now, being passed from one person to another – it’s gone viral (so to speak). I guess you could just say “original source unknown” and maybe ask for your readers to provide it if anyone knows. Come to think of it, maybe I should do that!

  3. Good to see both of you, wrapped up, safe and shopping by schedule. Take care of yourselves, and stay in the GROWTH outer circle if you can.. I’m there most days! (but there are certainly moments…)

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We all have our moments! But we’re all getting by best we can, and hopefully learning a lot from this experience. Take care of yourself, too 🙂

  4. That’s the second bandana mask video I’ve seen – they’re very similar, and I’ll be making a bunch tomorrow.
    I love that about Korea helping. And China has been sending medical supplies to Italy. Meanwhile Trump has ordered 3M to stop sending N95 masks to Canada. 🙁
    I was horrified to read about Guayaquil. I had no idea. 🙁 it sounds Medieval 🙁
    Good to hear you guys continue to do well despite the isolation. Don and I had our first outdoor expedition today – a 5km forest hike close to home. It felt so good after 14 days of indoor quarantine.
    I think the universe has pushed the reset button. Unsettling at best and terrifying at worst, but much needed I think.
    Stay safe
    Alison

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      A 5km hike sounds heavenly! Of everything we miss, connecting with nature is high on the list. Our 20 minute dog walks will have to do. Glad you two are getting out and getting some air. Be safe yourself 🙂

      PS no comment on Trump mask order, except to say we’re terribly ashamed.

      • Here’s a little bit or irony – apparently the special paper/pulp that’s used to make N95 masks comes from Canada. Anyway Don says he think it got sorted.

  5. Fascinating tale of what’s its like on the other side of the world to us. In fact pretty much the same. The whole world has been affected hasn’t it and who knows when it will all end. I fear that it will be longer rather than shorter, but only if people take notice of instructions and act sensibly. Keep safe and positive.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You too, Jonno! Hope you and yours are doing well.

  6. I realized today that somewhere this week, I’d lost a day when I compared the date on my computer and my desk calendar. It’s disorienting to have the days melt into one another but I feel fortunate that I’m able to find plenty of things to occupy my time although I spend far too much time watching the US & world news hoping for some good news between all the grim and heartrending reports. Thanks for sharing Debbie’s “Who do I choose do be …” during this time. I find it especially helpful to keep adding to my gratitude chart everyday as there is so much to be thankful. Even occasional boredom is a luxury when compared to the exhaustion of those medical & emergency personnel who are fighting the war for us all. Stay well and safe my friends! Anita

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha, we know the feeling! The only thing that’s keeping me somewhat connected to the days of the week is my work, and even that is starting to run together. And you are so right about gratitude. We are so grateful to be safe, healthy, housed, and fed, unlike so many others. And our hearts go out to the emergency workers, the real heroes. A virtual hug to you, Anita!

  7. Good stuff, you two. Keep toeing that line, distancing, and washing your hands! We’re right on the itty-bitty edge of learning & growth.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      It’s a razor edge, isn’t it? And sometimes we even feel ourselves creeping back to that fear zone. Part of the process, I guess. Waving to you both from up and across the river!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Indah! Stay safe yourself 🙂

  8. Pingback: Live in the Time of Coronavus, Pt 8–In the Zone – e-Quips

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you for visiting! Hope you’re staying safe 🙂

  9. Adriana Gutierrez Reply

    Both of your graphics struck home. 2 months ago, with our house sold and closing scheduled for April 6, we had planned to wrap up business and relocate to Colombia in early May. Boy does life happen! Now, decompressing from an arduous 6 weeks of disposing of our life’s possessions and Colombia plans delayed we are riding out the pandemic in a cabin next to North Georgia trout stream. Life is good. Recently had to gently explain No Means No to dear friends who wanted to visit from the city, 150 miles roundtrip to bring us a housewarming gift. Meantime, settling in to our new temporary digs, thinking of others, volunteering at the local foodbank and continuing first responder activities one county over. Otherwise, staying home!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Yes, life does have a way of interefering with plans sometimes, doesn’t it? Of course, this is an extreme version! But I love your attitude, and your cabin on the trout stream sounds like a lovely place to hunker down. And don’t worry, Colombia will be waiting for you when all this blows over. In the meantime, stay safe! And thanks for visiting our blog 🙂

  10. Great post. Love these updates. Miss Colombia. John is adorable. Happy to report that I am trending toward the most outward edge on your graphic with the exception of helping others. The only things I am doing in that regard are staying home and trying to play nice. I could probably do more.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I think you two are doing exactly what you need to be doing – hunkering down and figuring out your next best moves aboard Amandla. It’s all about staying safe and keeping a positive outlook, which you have in spades! Hang in there, chica – this too shall pass. And I know you’ll be back in Colombia someday. 🙂

Your comments light up our day!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: