Spring break is supposed to be a time of sun, sand and friends, not anxiety, frustration and quarantine. Well, that’s exactly what ten of my friends and I got when we went to spring break in Peru.
A group of ten girls and I left for Peru on March 13. Dulles International Airport was empty, and the attendant working for Copa Airlines warned us about a pending quarantine in Peru.
All of those things should have been signs that Peru was not the place to be right then.
I honestly thought it was going to be fine. I figured we would get in and get out just as planned.
What actually happened is that we got trapped in a foreign country for 12 days.
The first two days of the trip were Peruvian bliss. We stayed in Lima for one night, getting to experience true city life, and then the next day, we were off to a secluded beach house to spend the rest of the week.
The news of the quarantine broke at about 8 p.m. Then panic set in. We were given 24 hours to find a flight home. Some of the girls in the group felt as though they could not survive in Peru indefinitely, so they were determined to buy a plane ticket.
Four of the group members ended up leaving the next day, paying upwards of $2,500 to leave the country.
“I felt very stuck in all my decisions. On one hand, I was blowing $1,000, and on the other hand, there was a pit in my stomach about being stuck there indefinitely,” graduate student Kirby Given said.
After that incredibly stressful night, there were seven of us left, all living in a small apartment in Miraflores, Lima.
The days and nights after that sort of blend together when remembering. A friend of mine, Sophie Clendenin, recalls feeling somewhat imprisoned.
“I felt a little stir crazy towards the end because we couldn’t go outside or exercise,” Clendenin said.
To pass the time in quarantine, we had loud karaoke nights, played endless games of Skip-Bo, watched countless movies and had many laughs.
Our situation changed on March 25 when Salisbury University decided it could help improve how we were living. The internet access at the Airbnb wasn’t the best. It is not ideal when six students trying to do online classes every day and have to all be on the internet at the same time.
After learning of our struggles, SU decided to step in.
The university put the seven of us up in a hotel that would provide us with high-speed internet, three meals a day and a gym to use.
Feeling stuck and stressed, the girls and I felt a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. My friend Sydney Hobbs explained this relief.
“I felt very grateful for that because we were starting to run out of resources,” Hobbs said. “Took a lot of stress away that someone was able to help us.”
The very next day, I received a call from the U.S. Embassy in Peru asking if I had interest in a flight to Washington, D.C., and after some convincing, I managed to get the other six girls also on the same flight.
March 27, a whole week after our original departure date, all seven of us boarded a Boeing 777 on the tarmac of the Peruvian air force and headed home.
“It was a surreal feeling walking up the stairs onto the plane,” Given said.
We were finally going home, and it felt unreal. After a ten-hour flight, we landed in Washington D.C at 1 a.m. We were finally on U.S. soil, and a wave of relief spread over me.
“I felt like a lot of stress was relived because we were back in our homeland. It was exciting to be home,” Clendenin said.
By ANNIE GEITNER
Photos by Sophie Clendenin.