LIMA, Peru — A group of 11 D.C-area college students who decided to move forward with their trip to Peru found themselves stranded after the country's president closed the borders. Now, they are back home after the U.S. government stepped in to get hundreds of stranded Americans back on a chartered flight.
Maryland native Sophie Clendenin said they nearly canceled the trip two weeks ago. But back then, the travel advisory was at a level one: take normal precautions. It’s currently at its highest, level 4, which means do not travel.
Within two days of landing in Lima, Peru, for their seven-day trip, Clendenin said they were ordered to return home.
"All of a sudden it was just kind of, like, we got smacked in the face with, 'You have 24 hours to get back home or you're stuck in Peru for however long.'"
Peru´s President Martin Vizcarra banned travel until the end of March, put in place an 8 p.m. curfew and restricted movement within the country.
"We’re allowed out of the house from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but it’s only for three-hour periods of time at max and you can only go with two-to-three people or police will tell you to go home,” Clendenin said.
Hundreds of tourists were lined up at a military base in Lima on Monday, hoping to get a flight home.
Many have also taken to social media, begging for help.
The U.S. Embassy in Peru is also using social media and email to communicate with those stranded Americans.
They tweeted Monday afternoon that "an additional 106 citizens departed, bringing the total to over 600.
Several evacuation charter flights have flown to and from the country Monday, according to the Embassy.
However, coordinating travel is further complicated as Peru is also working to contain the coronavirus, with nearly 400 cases and five deaths.
"These last few days have been really hard on us. Really stressful. We're trying to hold it together,” Clendenin said.
Sophie said she's been emailing the embassy since last week, but hasn't received a response or even a timeline for departure. She hopes it comes soon, as, she said, they're running out money and resources.