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.
- 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!