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State of emergency over virus leaves Vancouver family members stuck in Peru

Fun visit turns into emotional ‘roller coaster’

By , Columbian breaking news reporter
Published:
2 Photos
Heidi Marshall, third from left, poses with her family in front of the St. Francis Monastery in Lima, Peru. Marshall and four others are stuck near Lima after arriving on March 13 to visit her new in-laws. (Heidi Marshall)
Heidi Marshall, third from left, poses with her family in front of the St. Francis Monastery in Lima, Peru. Marshall and four others are stuck near Lima after arriving on March 13 to visit her new in-laws. (Heidi Marshall) Photo Gallery

Members of the Marshall family, self-described fitness buffs, recently attempted to run around the neighborhood near Lima, Peru, where they have been staying. The run came to an abrupt end when armed soldiers ordered them back inside.

“So we never did that again,” Heidi Marshall said.

The Vancouver residents landed in Lima on March 13, two days before the country declared a 15-day state of emergency that closed its borders and canceled international flights. Now they are awaiting word from the U.S. Embassy in Peru, which is coordinating flights from a military base for the many Americans who remain in the country.

“The emotions in our household keep going up and down. It’s a roller coaster in here,” Heidi Marshall said. “I just want to get home.”

After booking flights in July, the Marshalls flew to Peru to meet the family of their new daughter-in-law, Estefany Bautista Azana. The trip began as expected, with the families gathering for dinner.

But the emergency declaration later that weekend drastically altered their plans. Excursions to historic Cusco and Machu Picchu were quashed.

With cities locked down — with exceptions for small groups who need to buy essential items — the Marshalls have been holed up in rental housing near Lima, where the property owner is allowing them to renew their stay on a daily basis. The unit itself, with bedrooms for each person and a top-floor patio, could be worse.

“To be quarantined, it’s not bad,” Heidi Marshall said. “We got lucky.”

With outdoor exercise clearly not an option, the Marshalls have passed the time in ways that are familiar to many in Clark County, including watching Netflix, cooking and playing cards. They even managed to set up a kiddie pool on the patio. (In the Southern Hemisphere, it is early fall.)

“We’re just bored, watching a lot of Neflix,” Heidi Marshall said.

When their original return flight was canceled, they spent about $8,000 booking other flights. But those were canceled too. Now they’ve stopped searching, and hope to get refunds on the canceled flights.

“Every time we get a cancellation we start crying. It’s not fun,” Heidi Marshall said.

Americans who were in Peru when the emergency declaration was announced have only recently been rescued as the two countries work through diplomatic tensions to send citizens home. About 500 Americans have departed to date, according to an update Monday from the U.S. Embassy in Peru.

The stranded Americans have been signing Evacuee Manifest and Promissory notes, which obligate them to repay the U.S. government for flights out of the country. Heidi Marshall said it will cost her group $840 per person.

On Monday, the embassy offered flights from a nearby military base, prioritizing the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and anyone who is running low on essential medication, Heidi Marshall said.

The Marshalls are involved in a group chat with about 700 other Americans about the situation in Peru. Like them, many await calls from the embassy and hope to be home within days.

“We’re kind of happy that they’re hearing us now,” Heidi Marshall said.

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