DATELINE May 3, 2020, Medellín, Colombia.

man spraying bicycles during COVID-19 pandemic
The Enclicla public bikes were getting a disinfecting yesterday morning. Medellín has reopened the bike system to help authorized people get to their jobs.
These updates are getting harder to write.

It’s clear that this pandemic is not going to end soon, and any real resolution – whether it’s brought about by effective treatments, vaccines, or some other unforeseen factor – is going to take many months, if not years, to pan out. And, being an impatient species that’s used to getting its way with the planet, we humans are chomping at the bit to get back to our “normal lives.”

It’s been difficult to watch the protests against mandated social distancing in our home country, including the (relatively small) gangs of armed thugs making threats to state officials. Especially since social distancing seems to be the ONLY somewhat effective approach to containing this thing.

Which brings me back to why these pandemic posts are getting harder to write. 

We’re beginning to realize just what a big uphill battle the pandemic is going to be for the entire world. There are two big things the scientific community seems to agree on right now: 1) We are just in the very beginning stages, and 2) We really don’t know much at all about this virus, how it behaves, and what the long-term implications are. This  is an entity that really has no concern at all for us petty little humans – our lifestyles, our travels, our livelihoods, our families, our “freedoms.” Coronavirus is in the driver’s seat, and anyone who thinks that our lives will even remotely resemble the ones we had pre-COVID is deeply mistaken. There’s going to be a new normal, but it’s anyone’s guess what that will look like.

I came across this article in The Tyee, an independent news magazine out of Vancouver BC, Canada, that brings some of these issues into focus. It’s worth a read. Here are the money quotes:

man spraying bicycles during COVID-19 pandemic

“The virus will continue to illuminate our weaknesses. Whenever and wherever we let down our guard, this virus will almost certainly explode with a bang.”

“Therefore easing restrictions before nations have developed disciplined protocols for testing, contact tracing and isolation of the infected will result in more pandemonium, and a longer emergency.”

“But the real danger will not come just from the haphazard easing of restrictions, but from the psychology of crowds and leaders who pander to their surging emotions for short-term political gain.”

Here in Colombia, it’s clear we haven’t hit the coronavirus peak yet.

As of today, there are 7,285 documented cases – quite a significant jump from last week’s figure of 4881. That might be a reflection of the country-wide testing rate, which finally is starting to accelerate. Here in Antioquia province, the numbers are holding more steady: 477 cases today, only about 30 more than last week, and only six deaths total. There’s still only about 20 people in Antioquian hospitals. But here’s the really encouraging number: 329 people in our province have recovered, more than two thirds of the documented cases. That’s way above the national average.

Other stuff that caught our eye this week

  • World Central Kitchen, lead by celebrity chef José Andrés, reached a huge milestone this week: they’ve now served well over three million meals to needy families. This amazing team is now active in dozens of American cities, providing nearly 200,000 fresh meals every day.


  • And finally, we’ll leave you this week with this little gem. “Hindsight’s 2020.” Let’s hope this pandemic really does result in a “Great Realisation.”

It’s going to be a long haul, but we can’t lose hope. Stay safe, be happy, and keep looking for the silver linings!


  1. I agree and have been giving much thought to the idea that life as we knew it will never again be the same, especially here in the US for obvious reasons aside from the pandemic. People are adapting to new ways of daily life born out of health concerns, I don’t think those new ways are just going to disappear whenever this crisis ends. We will come out of this with a different perspective on life in general. And, with any luck a competent administration to guide the country and get us back on track with the rest of the world.

    So much truth in this statement:

    “But the real danger will not come just from the haphazard easing of restrictions, but from the psychology of crowds and leaders who pander to their surging emotions for short-term political gain.”

    Take care and stay safe.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      The whole article was filled with truth, but especially that statement. I share your hope that the US might soon get leaders who will provide real leadership, wisdom, and compassion. And my hope is that those new ways of living will be more to the benefit of all, rather than the me-me-me attitude of so many now. Hope you also are well and safe!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      The construction workers on the new building across from us are finally back today, a whole week after they were allowed to return. We get the feeling that workers might be afraid to come back? And the big park project still has no work going on. I think this “reopening” of certain sectors is going to take a lot longer than people think.

  2. Thank you again for your ongoing reports. You are a wonderful writer and my husband and I really appreciate your informative posts. We are so impressed by how the Colombian government is handling this crisis. We are more and more eager to get to Medellin…we are planning our two week visit in mid July and then our permanent move in October or November.
    A question on an unrelated topic: How do you receive packages from Amazon or other online sellers? I have an online store https://www.thesavvysenior and if people in Colombia want to order products from my store (or I want to receive packages) what is the best way to make that happen?
    Thank you.
    Jofannie and Mark

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ah, thank you!! So glad the blog’s helpful. It’s really hard to say what things will be like here in July and what our “new normal” will be. Hopefully you’ll still be able to get the experience and info you need to help with your move.

      Regarding shipping (I like your store, BTW!), we use Caribbean Shipper to have packages shipped here from the U.S. They offer excellent, reasonable service. We haven’t used them to ship anything the other way, but I assume they offer that. Another option for receiving packages: Amazon has recently started shipping direct to Colombia. We haven’t done that yet, but apparently it works well. All of this has a COVID caveat, BTW. Not sure how any of these services has been affected by the pandemic.

  3. Good info, you two. I didn’t realize the recovery rate was so high here. It tells me a lot about Colombian health care, and their perspective on caring for each other. Too bad it’s not like that everywhere.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha, yes. We are so glad to be weathering this here, and we know you are also! I want to believe that recovery rate – it just seems too good to be true. And the low hospitalization rate must mean something. Thanks, amigo!

  4. Well I think you hit the nail on the head with just about everything here. It’s not going away any time soon, and it will change our lives. Portugal is opening up a tiny bit and as part of that has made masks mandatory. Things sound encouraging for you in Antioquia. And here in Vancouver it’s pretty good too, but I do wish they’d make masks mandatory. Maybe they will as more people head out to the beaches in the summer. I’d read the Tyee article before – spot on I think. There’s so much we don’t know at this point. But there’s a lot of good news about the planet recovering which is always lovely to hear.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I might have gotten that Tyee article from you, actually – so thanks 🙂 Yes, the planet does seem to be enjoying this time without humans mucking things up. I hope some of it lasts, but I don’t feel too optimistic. Glad you’re feeling relatively safe there in Vancouver – such a pretty place to weather a crisis!

  5. Thank you for the update from your part of the world. I totally agree with your perspective and the thoughts quoted — we are only at the beginning of this although so many people are expecting to be back to normal in time for summer. Love that optimism but expect the reality will be far from normal for a long, long time. Keep hope alive!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      The people that think things will be normal in time for summer are the ones that scare me. Along with the ones that are shooting store employees for telling them to wear a mask. Or shoving park rangers into a lake for doing the same (saw that one today). These are the people that really don’t grasp just what a long haul we have ahead of us. You’re right, all we can do is keeping hoping that we’ll end up with a better world than the one we had pre-COVID. Have a lovely day!

      • Isn’t it crazy?! I don’t understand how some people don’t have even a tiny bit of fear that they, or someone they love, might be affected by their reckless (and in some cases appalling) behavior. As my brother so astutely noted, we have a unique brand of idiot here in the U.S. — the shooters and the shovers in the midst of the danger. I’ll never understand.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      That one’s so great, isn’t it? I checked TomFoolery out on YouTube and he’s got a lot of others that are just as good.

  6. You are so right about the world having to come to terms with a new way of existing. It’s going to take a long time to even get back to some semblance of normality let alone pre-pandemic lives. We seem to have just passed the peak here in the UK but it is now going to be months and months worth of slow easing of restrictions to keep everyone safe. We don’t seem to have any non-supportive issues with lockdown at all, everyone is fully supportive at the moment.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I’m glad to hear things are going better in the UK, Jonno. Seems your government has done a good job of managing things and keeping people motivated – “Save the NHS” is a good rallying cry! Stay safe and positive 🙂

  7. Great points John and Susan and I fully agree that this pandemic is not going to end soon. We need to accept the new normal for now (i.e. social distancing, masks, small groups) and the uncertainty that exists now regarding international travels, disappointing as that may be. Portugal began a stepped approach to easing stay-at-home restrictions a couple of days ago moving from a “National State of Emergency” to a “State of Calamity.” (IMO “State of Calamity” sounds more dire but that’s just me!) Unlike the US, the people here are fully supportive of the government’s approach and the consensus among people I know is that the majority of us will be to continue to limit outings and stay home while we wait to see how this evolves. It’s going to be a quiet summer … Take care my friends and keep well!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Agreed, Anita – Calamity seems more dire than Emergency! But glad to hear things are improving there in Portugal. People have been pretty supportive of government measures here, too. I think strong leadership and clear messages play a huge role in that – it’s the countries that are lacking that (ahem) that seem to be struggling. Take care yourself – we WILL meet someday! Mark our words 🙂

  8. I also recently read the Tyee article and agree with its sobering message. I worry now that the weather is getting nicer in Vancouver and people have pent up desire to go the beach and parks and to socialize that we will let our guard down. Our numbers are looking encouraging here but I know we are nowhere near out of the woods. I hope caution and good sense will prevail. Thank you for leaving us with that beautiful bedtime story. I too hope that the Great Realization takes place and endures. Take care!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Do you know Alison? Another blogging friend who lives in Vancouver (see her comment above). Such a lovely place in which to be quarantined! I think the nicer weather is going to be challenging for people everywhere who have been cooped up for two months. Let’s hope, as you say, people will be careful. And we also hope for a Great Realization, but the cynic in me is having trouble believing it will happen. Time will tell, I guess. Be safe and enjoy your lovely weather!

      • Yes I know Alison and have enjoyed following her blog for several years. I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting up with her and Don in Vancouver a few times. I love how blogging has introduced me to such interesting people.

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          We love the connections we’ve made in the blogging world, and it’s such a treat when we actually get to meet face to face!

  9. Thanks for your insightful post. Yes, this pandemic will be with us for much longer than we want to bear it. Love the inclusion of the Great Realization video too!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You’re so welcome. The longer this drags on, the more philosophical we get. Let’s hope the Great Realization comes to pass! Stay safe and take care 🙂

  10. Those who pander to surging emotions for short-term political gain are the real danger indeed. I won’t even call them leaders because that term does not suit their behavior. Bravo to World Central Kitchens. That Tom Foolery piece is brilliant! Smiled when I saw a link to our visit from the Navy in Isla Coronados 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Pow, that was the quote that really hit home for me too. It’s the short-term thinking that’s going to get many more people killed by this thing, I fear. Anyway, glad you liked the other stuff. And we couldn’t resist posting that Navy thing – it’s just so random and kind of amazing! Thanks for sharing it, amiga 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you – you take care as well 🙂

  11. John and Susan, thank you for such a great update. I love the video “The Great Realization”, it gives a sense of hope. Your words say it all… “This is an entity that really has no concern at all for us petty little humans – our lifestyles, our travels, our livelihoods, our families, our “freedoms.” Coronavirus is in the driver’s seat”. Unfortunately there are no easy, short term solutions, only a lot of hard collective work. Here in the UK we have reached the peak of the outbreak and mortality rates are starting to decline. On Sunday we will hear more about how the recent lockdown measures are going to start being relaxed. But in reality we know that it will take months and even years for “normality” to return. Great post 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Gilda – sorry I just saw your comment. Yup, we humans just aren’t programmed to be patient, or to deal with something that’s so completely beyond our control. It’s going to take time, patience, and international cooperation, but I do think we’ll get through this. Glad to hear things are somewhat better in the U.K. Thanks for visiting!

  12. Great update! Here in Australia, we’ve been lucky so far albeit slow to react as apparently the economy is much more important than people. Glad to hear you guys are staying safe. We have to keep positive.

    The “Great Realisation” video has been making the rounds on FaceBook – such a wonderful voice. A powerful video, especially for this time in the globe’s history.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much! It seems that Australia and New Zealand both have handled things pretty well compared to a lot of other countries. Hope you’re hunkered down and staying safe as well. And yes, positivity is incredibly important! 🙂

      • Hope it stays that way, but our PM is starting to relax a couple of things so we’ll see…
        No crossing borders or international flights yet.

  13. New to your blog, and I can already see what an amazing life you’ve got with all these wonderful travels 🙂 doing more of solo travels is on my bucket list, so fingers crossed the pandemic is over soon indeed. I just hit follow!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much for following us, Nikhar! Hope you get to visit Colombia someday in your travels. Cheers!

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