LIMA, Peru (KFOR) – High in the mountain tops of Peru is a familiar face in need of help.
Before COVID-19 brough the world to a screeching halt, Scott Hines and a small group of Oklahomans visited Peru for a brief retreat.
“We were there in the jungle, outside Quito, we were unplugged,” Scott explained. “We had no idea the chaos that was breaking out here in Peru.”
Scott and crew emerged from the jungle to find a country in crisis.
The Peruvian government would ultimately close their borders, before Scott and a group of 7 others could get back to the states.
“[Tour guide] told us about the declaration, emergency declaration,” said Scott. “essentially we were stuck, we would be stranded here in Peru for the time being.”
It’s a new normal for a staggering number of Americans.
A Forbes report over the weekend estimates at least 15-hundred Americans are stranded in Peru.
That number included 16 students from Oklahoma City based ‘Destiny Christian Schools, who were traveling abroad on a mission trip.
Those students were flown out of the country early Monday morning.
“Logistically, there just doesn’t seem to be an easy road getting home at this point,” noted Scott.
The road home for Scott is not easy.
His group is currently located in the small town of Pisac. The closest airport to Pisac, is nearly an hour drive away in Cusco.
The closest major international airport, is nearly 22 hours away in Lima.
But the race to return Scott and crew home is on.
Scott’s family, and his News 4 family, have been in contact with Oklahoma legislators.
Senator Jim Inhofe, responding to the situation in a video teleconference on Monday.
“We have a particularly good person, to help us do that in the Oklahoma City office,” explained the Senator. “So the answer is yes we’re on it.”
Representative Kendra Horn’s office doing their part as well.
“Specifically on the group that’s in Peru, we have worked with all of those different players,” noted the Rep. “We are encouraged, think that they will be back later this week.”
Silver lining in all this, Scott and his crew say they are healthy, well fed, and have access to funds.
But fear is mounting on how long they’ll be stuck.
“It just reinforces how important family is, how important friends are, and the true meaning in life and what really matters,” said Scott.
In a release Monday, the State Department says they are aware of US citizens being stuck in Peru, specifically mentioning Cusco. They say they are working on options to bring them home.
If you have a loved one who’s stuck abroad, click here.
You can also call the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (888)-405-4747