As world leaders announce sweeping measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, several affected countries have put their residents on lockdown. Canadians abroad are now scrambling to get back home as borders begin to close. Among those travellers is Amelia Alie, a Canadian trapped in Peru, who spoke to Narcity about her experience.
On Sunday, March 15, the President of Peru announced a national lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. This included cancelling all commercial flights in and out of the city and shutting down borders.
Amelia Alie, a 25-year-old schoolteacher from Ottawa, was backpacking around Peru with her boyfriend when the news broke.
Unable to secure a flight home, the couple remains trapped in Cusco. We reached Amelia in Peru, where she filled us in on their situation.
After an incredible start to her vacation, she first became nervous when out for dinner at a restaurant on March 15.
"Before we left (Canada), we made sure to check all travel advisories, and there were no advisories put out by Canadian authorities for Peru."
"We were out for dinner and our waiter came up to us and said, 'Peru is closing down, we're going to have to ask you to leave.' There was no warning, nothing."
When the couple was given just 24 hours to leave the country, all Amelia could think was, "I just want to get home."
"That was when we immediately started looking for flights out," she explained.
"We had people working... from Canada and here to try and get us flights, and it just didn't happen."
The couple is currently staying in a guesthouse, similar to a hostel, along with one of her colleagues.
"We are allowed to leave," Amelia said, "but only to get groceries, or if you need money... There's military police all over. They are very friendly, but we got stopped and got told to get back to our hostel as fast as we could."
She is thankful that she still has access to lots of food and clean water, as well as shelter.
"There's a Facebook group that started of Canadians stuck in Peru. The group is up to about 280 or 300, and I know there are many more who haven't even joined the group."
"Some people are saying they're being kicked out of their hostels, and just scrambling to find places to stay."
While things are stressful, Amelia is overwhelmed with the support she's received from back home.
"I'm trying to reach out to as many Canadians that we see on any social media to try and band together," she said.
"That's the one thing I can say that's really positive and beautiful that's come from this experience, is seeing the Canadians really coming together and being this incredible support system."
As for when she'll be able to get back to Canada, Amelia isn't exactly sure. She explained that Peru is under quarantine until March 31. Her Air Canada flight is scheduled to depart on March 23.
She says that, so far, she hasn't been getting much guidance from the Canadian government. "We've reached out to every email we could find. Every phone number — we've called. Our embassy here has actually shut down... so even if we were in Lima we couldn't go there."
"Any communication we've been getting through our embassy here and through our Government in Canada is basically just sit tight and wait it out."
However, Alie states one of the best things that anyone can do during this difficult time is to stay positive.
"This is a stressful time," she added, "but I think what we need to do right now is we need to stay positive... Take this time to better yourself, find something that you've always wanted to learn, and do that."