It’s like the plot of a thriller movie.
You’re stuck in a foreign country, with your family. You don’t speak the language there very well. You’re under strict quarantine. You have tickets for a flight two weeks from now, but have little confidence you will actually be on that flight.
For Florida resident Jesse Curry, it’s not a movie. It’s his life right now.
Curry is in Peru with his wife, Julie; his children, Savannah, age 12, and Maximus, 6; and his mother, Kathy. Peru has shut its borders in response to Covid-19.
In spite of that, Curry says, “We’re just really thankful we’re at where we are at.”
He and his family are at an Airbnb that has a washer and dryer. They’ve been able to stock up on food. They’ve even been able to find a similar drug for the prescription medication his mother takes. He knows others are not so fortunate.
Curry says the family took the trip to Peru to relax. “We wanted to just hang around,” he says. “Just not this long."
He says they took the trip as part family vacation, part food research. Julie, his wife, owns a bakery in Tampa.
The first couple of days were fine. Then the situation worsened, and the President of Peru closed the borders.
The Airbnb they were in at that point was fine, until it wasn’t: the doorman dead bolted the front door the last time he left. They were able to escape through a garage door, although they knew once it closed, they couldn’t go back to retrieve anything. There was no way to open it from the outside.
Fortunately, they were able to move to their current Airbnb. There, things are remarkably normal, at least according to Curry. His children play on their iPads. They are doing their online learning through Hillsborough County schools.
“They’re kids. There is plenty of fighting,” just like at home, he says with a laugh.
Now, it’s the waiting game. They had tickets for a commercial flight out on March 22nd. That was postponed to the 31st, then April 1st, and now to April 5th. Curry doesn’t really think that will be their way to return to the US. “We’re wholly dependent on a State Department flight out,” he says.
In the meantime, Curry, a web developer, has been able to use his technical skills to help others. He found equivalent prescription drugs for others, the way he did for his mother. He has assisted people in signing up for the State Department’s STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program).
However, things are not all positive.
“The lack of information has just been insane,” he says. He calls it an information vacuum.
In that vacuum, people are making rash decisions, he concludes. “There are people who have been taken.”
In that instance, it’s American residents who have paid for flights home that are fictitious; they’re so desperate to get home they have paid for flights that don’t exist, promised by people who are willing to prey on people in such circumstances.
"Many such people are down to their last resources and trying to decide what to do," Curry says.
His wish, the reason he wants to tell the story, is to highlight this is happening. "It’s happening to American citizens."