Joanne Jordan and Larry Skilling are stuck in Ecuador. Here they are a few weeks ago, at Machu Picchu in Peru. Submitted Photo Joanne Jordan and Larry Skilling are stuck in Ecuador. Here they are a few weeks ago, at Machu Picchu in Peru. Submitted Photo

Castlegar couple stranded in Ecuador

Closed borders and travel limitations keep Joanne Jordan and Larry Skilling in Ecuador.

A Castlegar couple travelling around South America for the winter is stuck in Ecuador after the country restricted travel and closed its borders.

Joanne Jordan and Larry Skilling left Canada in January, long before anyone knew a global pandemic would occur. They were in a village in Ecuador when COVID-19 cases and fears began to escalate.

When they heard restrictions may be coming, they decided to move to a slightly larger, although still small city. As it turned out, they arrived in Puerto Lopez on the last bus to enter the town before public transportation was shut down in the country.

“Everything shut down after that,” said Jordan.

The pair has not been able to secure a flight out of the country and doesn’t see it happening anytime soon.

A few flights are leaving out of neighbouring Colombia, but the lack of transportation and the closed border have cut off that option for them.

“The Canadian government is telling everyone to get home, but when I contacted Canadian SOS International, they basically said, ‘You are on your own, as long as you are not in danger, stay where you are at.’”

Jordan says they do feel safe where they have hunkered down, in a hostel-style hotel. Their host is taking good care of them and they can move about for some fresh air in the hotel’s outdoor space.

They can acquire food at a restaurant located across the street and there is still food available in local markets.

“We’re not distressed, we’re not hungry, we have a comfortable enough room,” said Jordan.

READ MORE: West Kootenay couple caught up in Spain’s COVID-19 lockdown

When Ecuador put in travel restrictions a few days ago Jordan was told it would be in place for at least two weeks, but could be much longer.

Up until Thursday afternoon, Jordan was considered hiring a private car to take them to a larger city where international flights may become available. But that option is now gone, as the government has closed all of the country’s highways.

The couple’s original departure date was April 15 out of Bogota. If their return is delayed beyond that, then concerns over prescription medications running out will come into play. If they were to get sick, limited medical services in the town of 16,000 are also a concern.

But in the meanwhile, the couple is hoping the worst thing they will have to face is boredom.

READ MORE: Empty store shelves increase anxiety for Castlegar’s low income residents



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

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