It was supposed to be a South American backpacking adventure, a trip Edmontonian Michael Melymick started in mid-December, when no one was talking about a new virus.
“Maybe like four or five months, I wanted to be gone for,” Melymick said, now in self-isolation back in Edmonton.
He and his girlfriend returned to Canada from Peru, a country they spent three weeks in after it closed itself off with travel and curfew restrictions because of COVID-19.
When they arrived in Peru on March 11, “That’s when everything hit the fan,” said Melymick.
“I guess they’re just doing their job, but it’s still weird getting approached by police in a foreign country.”
Melymick added the police presence in the country seemed to increase in an instant.
“It was almost like martial law, in a way,” he said.
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The couple was stuck in a small beach community called Máncora, about a 20 hour bus ride from the capital, Lima.
The couple was in contact with Canadian Embassy staff.
Several weeks passed, “Then, over the course of two days, just lots of emails and phone calls and there’s going to be a bus here at this time to pick you up.”
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Melymick says the bus stopped in five different communities, picking up stranded Canadians; there were several checkpoints during the journey.
“At one point, we had to leave the bus,” says Melymick. “We had to sanitize our hands and we all got our temperature taken, as well.”
The couple was finally able to leave Peru on April 3, arriving in Edmonton on Sunday.
“It’s a little bit surreal.”
Friends dropped a vehicle off at the airport. Melymick’s sister ensured groceries were stocked for their two weeks of quarantine.
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The couple is feeling fine, not experiencing any symptoms.
One important piece of homecoming, however, is still missing:
“It’s all you want to do is hug your family, your friends; especially my mom and my dad,” says Melymick.
“But we’re talking on phone and FaceTiming. So, we’re still in contact, but once our two week isolation is up, I’ll go and visit them.”
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