DATELINE May 10, 2020, Medellín, Colombia.

Happy Mother’s Day!

My amazing mom, Mary Lea Baker, is doing well in Austin, Texas. It’s hard not being with her today and knowing we couldn’t get there, even if we really needed to. But I also feel incredibly grateful that she was able to visit us here in Medellín in February, before the COVID sky starting falling.

Here are a few photo highlights of that visit:

Travelers’ Crystal Balls are Coming Out

We’re getting just as antsy as other fellow travelers as the global pandemic drags on (and on, and on), and as the future of travel continues to be highly speculative. Just this week, we began to see more prognostications and proposals on what world travel might look like in both the near term (um, nonexistent) and further down the road.

  • This CNN article takes a look at a proposal to create a “travel bubble” between Australia and New Zealand that would allow people to travel between the two. This could only work for countries that have successfully brought their coronavirus outbreaks under control (for now). Still, might it be feasible for other groups of countries in the future? Say, bordering South American countries?
  • Spain is also looking at how to re-start its travel infrastructure, according to this article from Travel AgentCentral. Anything about Spain gets our attention, since we made our first visit there last fall and had booked a trip back to Spain and Portugal for this month. As a matter of fact, we would have flown home yesterday from that trip (still trying to get our money back from Iberia Airlines, but that’s another story). We’re skeptical whether Spain will be able to reactivate any aspect of tourism by the end of 2020, but we wish them all the best after their terrible ordeal with COVID-19.

    fullsizeoutput_2662-1024x645 Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: Mother's Day Edition Colombia COVID-19
    Madrid’s historic Plaza Mayor. We might be in for a long wait, but we WILL visit Spain again someday – and perhaps even move there.
  • Here’s an interesting take on the future of travel from Gallivance, another informative travel blog that we follow. The upshot: international travel will be a lot more of a hassle, more expensive, and more time-consuming, at least in the near term.

Meanwhile in Colombia

To the surprise of no one, the national quarantine has been extended to May 25. But the list has gotten longer of sectors that can begin to reopen, as long as they follow strict protocols: auto retailers, furniture manufacturers, auto service and repair shops, pet supply stores, and bookstores, just to name a few.

Just this week, John ventured out on his shopping day to PriceSmart (the South American version of a warehouse store like Costco) — his first trip in any type of vehicle since early March.

We have crested the 10,000 mark for documented cases countrywide, with 445 deaths. Here in Antioquia, the numbers are still remarkably low for a province of 6.6 million people: only 466 documented cases with fatalities holding steady at only 6. Of those cases, an amazing 374 have recovered – and only about 20 people are in hospital (with only 10 in ICU). As always, the caveat is that testing is still nowhere near what it should be to get a real handle on how widespread the virus is. Still, isn’t the low hospitalization number an indication of . . . something?

Antioquia is in stark contrast to other parts of Colombia, most notably Bogotá and Calí. Bogotá, a city with about a million more people than Antioquia, has 10 times more cases. Why the difference? Are they doing a lot more testing per capita in Bogotá (doubtful)? Is it some environmental factor, such as Bogota’s much higher elevation and cooler, wetter climate? (Both Calí and Santa Marta, two other cities with large case numbers, are MUCH hotter.) Is it because Bogota is more of a center for international commerce than Medellín? That makes the most sense to me, but it’s all pure speculation.

What Else Caught Our Eye This Week?

  • This Newsweek article describes a possible breakthrough by scientists in the Netherlands, who have apparently discovered an antibody that can block the coronavirus from infecting cells.
  • Here’s another article from El Tiempo, a Bogotá newspaper, about progress being made on the research front around the world. It’s in Spanish but translates well with Google.
  • Just yesterday, we came across this very interesting site, EndCoronavirus.org. Based on case data from Johns Hopkins University, this group has organized countries into three categories according to how well they’re beating COVID-19: Winning, Nearly There, and Need Action. It’s eye-opening, especially the countries on the Need Action group that are already opening up their economies (hello, U.S.???).

Time for Some Inspiration

We can’t think of a better person than one of our idols, Dr. Jane Goodall, to wrap up this week’s post. Trust us, this little video is worth 7 minutes of your day. We promise it will put a smile on your face and maybe a tear in your eye!

Happy, happy Mother’s Day to all! Keep hope alive. And don’t forget to wash your hands!

14 Comments

  1. Thank you once again for a wonderful post. I especially enjoyed seeing photos of your mom…how lovely that she was able to visit you both before the lockdown took place. And it was such a treat to view Dr. Jan Goodell’s video.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Jofannie! Glad you enjoyed it. I think a lot of us are especially missing our moms on this strange Mother’s Day.

  2. I’m glad you had a good visit from your Mom in February. Thanks for sharing your updates from Colombia and Dr. Jane Goodall’s video. Have a good week ahead!

  3. Thanks so much for the link to our post. We all know that this is a global crisis, and posts like yours put a personal face on it. It’s also interesting to see how reactions and solutions are influenced by culture. When the virus has run its course, it will be fascinating to see what worked and what didn’t. Happy Mother’s Day to your Mom. ~James@Gallivance.net

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You are most welcome, and thanks for letting us link to your great post. Hope you and yours had a lovely Mother’s Day!

  4. Great update on our collective status vis a vis coronavirus. I’ll send you a PdF of research done here at the University of Antioquia Medellin that shows a connection between lowered vitamin D levels & higher mortality with COVID 19. Thanks for the post.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Got it – guess we need to keep getting out for some sun every day. Gracias 🙂

  5. Gosh, amazing to think of how much the world has changed since your Mom’s recent visit. Loved revisiting Santa Elena with you all.

    So bummed that you had to cancel your trip to Spain and Portugal and hope you find yourselves in that place someday soon. I hope that breakthrough in the Netherlands is a workable solution to all of this

    That PriceSmart scene is surreal.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      So much about all of this seems surreal, and then we realize it’s all part of the new normal. Strange times . . .
      So glad you two are enjoying the Sea of Cortez, one of our favorite places! And perfect for isolation.
      Hugs!

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  7. Nice that your mom was able to come for a visit before all of this craziness started. I miss my mom too. She only lives 10 km away but her senior’s residence has been on lockdown since early March. Thankfully there have been no outbreaks there.
    That Dr. Jane clip is amazing. She was my idol growing up (still is).
    Keep well!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Mom’s visit was such a blessing – and the timing was just right. It must be so hard for you to be so near your mom but unable to visit her. I’m glad she’s safe in her senior residence, and hopefully you’ll be reunited soon 🙂

  8. So great that you had the visit with your Mom earlier. Hoping you remain well and safe. Here in Alberta we are slowly opening up and our numbers are staying relatively low with 20+ new cases per day. Hoping some sense of normal continues.

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