Escape to Mompós

We did the right thing in leaving Bogotá for Mompós. Cooped up in an apartment, like so many others, for 105 days before we fled for more rural climes had taken its toll.

Of course, there are risks involved for us in leaving the big city for a small town. Primarily, the lack of decent healthcare in Colombia outside of the major urbs is as good as non-existent.

If any of my family falls ill to this virus, we’ll have to decide whether to place our trust in getting one of the five ICU beds (total) in Mompós or winging it back to a city.

And, if we feel that we are better off in Mompós tackling the virus here, are there critical care nurses, intensivists and anesthesiologists up to the task? I’m not sure that there any ventilators, I could be wrong though.

If the decision is made to head back to a city, not a chance that we’ll aim for either Cartagena (6 hours) nor Barranquilla (6 hours). Cartagena has a shortage of hospitals and beds and Barranquilla has grown into a Covd-19 epicentre. I’ll drive to Bogotá. It will take 12 hours, but it’s the only plausible option. 

When we heard on a Facebook broadcast from the town’s Secretary of Health that cases of the virus had increased by five in number on Friday and there had been one death, our concerns increased.

Did this news come as a shock? Not really, unfortunately. The numbers don’t add up when looking at the Instituto Nacional de Salud’s (INS) website. Yesterday, there were 12 cases and no deaths in Mompós and then the five further cases and one death were reported by the local official. On Saturday, the INS website showed there to be 13 cases and no deaths. How are we meant to know and who are we meant to believe? Today, Sunday the INS informs us that there are 14 cases in Mompós and one death.

My wife suggested, only half joking, that we should return to Bogotá. In considering her comment, I was overcome with a feeling of almost total hopelessness.

There’s nowhere left to run to nor where to hide.

It’s simply a question of waiting and taking care of ourselves and isolating.

What more?

There was simply no other plan considered by the government either. I don’t blame them for being useless, only a couple of places in the world have responded positively, but the Colombian government has been beyond useless, and for this, they do deserve to be reminded of their utter inefficacy. 

This situation has magnified all injustices, inequality and absurdities everywhere and Colombian politicians and society come out of this particularly badly.

Despite temperatures oscillating anywhere between 28 degrees at the low end and 38 at the upper end, we live behind face masks in a suspended reality where wearing a watch to tell the time has no significance. As the sun begins to set over the colonial rooftops and the raucously sounding parakeets fly overhead in pairs with remarkable punctuality at 5pm, it’s time to check twitter and check the updates from the Ministerio de Salud to view the daily unfolding tragedy across the regions.

And so, we made our escape to Mompós, it was the right thing to do. Check back in a month.

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About Richard

Anglo-Canadian resident in Colombia. Journalist, Writer, Hotelier, Expedition Guide
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