SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – A naturopathic teacher who works in the Sacramento area is happy to be back home in California after being stranded in Peru for weeks.
Ana Koenig is a San Francisco native who teaches naturopathic medicine and conducts wellness retreats in Northern California.
She left for Peru at the end of February and was supposed to return to the states by mid-March.
“Suddenly, this foreign country closes their borders and says, ‘OK, no flights are coming in, no flights are going out,'” Koenig told FOX40.
As the new coronavirus was spreading globally, Koenig said the president of Peru acted swiftly.
“He immediately, within five days, put in martial law and shelter-in-place and, basically, he did a fantastic job in preventing the rapid spread,” Koenig explained. “The military was walking, marching all over every street in Lima. And basically, they stopped my cab and said, ‘What are you doing?'”
But the Peruvian soldiers allowed her to continue on to a dentist appointment.
At that point, Koenig had no idea how long she would be there. She told FOX40 the U.S. Embassy was of no help because workers were ordered home.
“And it was frightening,” Koenig said.
She said she was grateful that at least she had family there.
“But there are thousands of U.S. citizens in little villages,” Koenig said. “They’re in the Amazon, they’re all over Peru. And because Peru suspended all their internal flights, those people are sort of stranded.”
A Facebook group called Stranded in Peru compiled a list of stranded Americans, which was given to the embassy.
Koenig eventually left Peru on Sunday.
“There were thousands of Americans there on vacation, staying at hotels with tourists from Spain and tourists from Italy and people that come in from Asia,” Koenig said.
So, Koenig said she was shocked to discover that once she landed back in the U.S. at Dulles International Airport in Washington and then took a flight into San Francisco International Airport, the airports had no fail-safes in place. In Peru, she said health care workers were assigned at the gate.
“Wow, here’s a country considered second world, it’s generally a poor country, but yet they had the wherewithal to get people there in big numbers to stop passengers coming into the country and ask basic, simple questions. So, why couldn’t the U.S. do that?” said Koenig.
“I felt safer in Peru. I did.”