AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– A Columbia County native is stuck in the mountains of Peru, as international borders have closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
WJBF’s Jennie Montgomey spoke with the Greenbrier High School graduate and one of her friends Wednesday, as they waited for word from the US Embassy on a military flight out of the country.
Candace Kaiser and Ella McDaniels are friends and cross-fit enthusiasts in Charleston, SC. The young women are part of a group now stuck in the Land of the Incas.
“In leading up to it, we had been watching every international platform and the safety and travel notices and everything, and all was clear. there were only a few cases of the virus in Peru. No countries had shut their vorders for outgoing travel so we did our due diligence.”
Jennie: “Ella, don’t touch your face!”
Ella McDaniels and a group of fitness enthusiasts had just arrived in Peru March 14th for a hiking trip to Machu Picchu.
“Yes! And Rainbow Mountain, different parts of Cusco, lagoons, sand dunes surfing, a lot of things!”
They had expected colorful markets, majestic mountains… not martial law.
But this is what happened not long after they arrived, when word came that Americans had to leave and the airlines shut down.
“So, not only was there price gouging but the websites started crashing and our flights got canceled. Like we booked flights but then found out they just canceled them. And we had a group of 11- it is our first time out of the country, our first time traveling, so we made the group decision to stay together.”
In the meantime, Ella and her group are trying to stay together in an Air B&B… and wait for help.
Jennie: “At this time you’re doing things to keep your morale up?
“Yeah, we’re trying to stay active, we like to go out in the yard and tan- cause it’s beautiful here! And pretty much what we’re waiting for is the Embassy to email us and tell us that we’re going to be on a flight. So, they’ve already started getting people out, and we’re seen that, but right now we have to wait on our flight for them to get us out.”
Ella’s group is working with the US Embassy in Lima, the US State Department and Sen. Lindsey Graham’s office. She says they feel confident the government will get them out.