Two weeks ago as we were walking our normal route to the Metro, I saw it ... a magnificent cactus-like plant in full bloom. Funny, neither of us had noticed the blossoms the day before. The next day as we walked past, the flowers were closed and turning brown. What a difference a day makes! And I realized ...

It is the blossoming of plants, people, and experiences that have made our time in Medellín so special.

I thought about these rapidly blooming and dying flowers this week as we saw and were forced to deal with rapidly changing conditions in our community of Medellín as a result of the arrival of Covid-19. 

Two weeks ago we were meeting new friends ... sharing smiles, laughs, high-fives, and hugs at the many language exchanges hosted at local cafés.

Two weeks ago we were traveling on crowded Metro trains across town to teach English to eager students like this delightful mother and daughter. It was so great to see how they encouraged each other to learn.

Two weeks ago we were marveling at how congested the roads were as people rushed home from work and school.

Two weeks ago we left a lively neighborhood where neighbors gathered in the corner panadería to watch their favorite fútbol team and listen to latino music late into the night.

Two weeks ago we moved to a quieter part of town where we awoke to the songs of birds and were still greeted with a friendly ''buenos días'' as we explored our new barrio.

But like that rapidly blooming and fading flower, times are quickly changing for us, for the people of Medellín, and for the world. 

... masked faces cover the smiles (where are the ''buenos días??)
... empty cafés and restaurants (where are the paisas who love to socialize as they eat out??)
... long lines in the grocery stores (where are all the disinfectant wipes??)
... cancelled classes and language exchanges (where am I going to go to learn about this challenging language and beautiful culture??)
... locked up churches (where is this faith-filled community going to gather??)

Doug kept careful track of this rapidly changing situation surrounding Covid-19, and two days ago we made the tough but wise decision to cut our Colombian adventure short and return to the United States. A tough decision made easier when we heard that Colombia will be restricting travel in and out of the country starting next Monday.

So, even though we know this is the best decision for us now, it is hard to say goodbye to the special friends with whom we have shared learning and laughter ... especially since these goodbyes need to be in the form of text messages instead of in person.

We will cherish the many special friends who, like that flower, may blossom in our lives for a short time ...

But will always live in our hearts!