After two weeks stranded in Peru from coronavirus restrictions, Shelton pair finally home

SHELTON — Two Shelton woman stranded in Peru for nearly two weeks are finally home, thanks to a spontaneous, desperate trip to the country’s U.S. Embassy Saturday.

Amy Pavlik and Giuliana Candiotti, both U.S. citizens, landed in Lima, Peru, on March 15 about 3 p.m., but before the two could settle in, the country’s president declared a state of emergency, closed all borders and halted flights and transportation for a 15-day countrywide quarantine in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some two weeks later, the pair has finally returned to American soil.

“We are home now, self isolating,” said Pavlik, a health care professional, in emails to Hearst Connecticut Media on March 30. “Surprisingly, we were not tested or screened at all upon arrival to the U.S. I expected to go through at least some precautionary measures at the airport, but there were none in place. We just went through customs like usual and were sent on our way.

“I believe this is part of the problem in the U.S. right now,” added Pavlik. “As much as I am happy to be home, I believe the U.S. needs to drastically tighten up their safety measures.”

From the moment they realized they were stranded in Peru, the pair was living under self-quarantine, coming out only for food, and anxiously waiting each day for any word of a way home. They had joined an online support group of other people stranded, like they, in Peru and traded information and hope.

“As of (March 28) morning, I still hadn’t received an email from the Embassy with a designated flight time and confirmation,” said Pavlik. “We were growing impatient, and I was starting to get worried that my inhaler was running low. I am an asthmatic.”

Desperate for information on return flights, Pavlik said, they drove to the U.S. embassy to get firsthand information Saturday afternoon.

“We were lucky enough to be placed on standby for the flight to Washington D.C., along with about 40 other Americans,” said Pavlik. “They made an official announcement shortly after that everyone on standby would be making the flight.

“I still have no idea how much longer we would have been there if we didn’t take the chance and go to the embassy yesterday,” Pavlik said via email Sunday.” I am still closely following the group, and thousands are still stuck.”

The waiting and uncertainty, Pavlik said, was wearing.

“My days are all starting to blend together,” she wrote last week, “but I believe it was Wednesday, March 18, when the president of Peru made an announcement that he would open back up the border for citizens of other countries to fly back to their respective countries. However, this meant that the respective countries had to arrange flight transportation. Within the first couple of days, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Israel all sent flights and got their citizens out. We heard nothing from the U.S.

“As you can imagine though, this is a huge financial burden, and money is running out,” she wrote on March 26. “On top of all of the additional money that we have had to spend, we will need to sign a promissory note if and when our repatriation flight comes stating we will pay the government back a large amount of money.”