Canadian couple trapped in Ecuador’s COVID-19 shutdown feels forsaken

By Canadian Press

Stranded in Ecuador with her boyfriend after the country imposed sweeping measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, a Quadra Island resident issued a plea on social media Thursday.

Tracey Hayman appealed for help on Facebook to try to push the Canadian government to get her and boyfriend Jesse Loucks home to Canada.

“In all seriousness. Do you have contacts in the Canadian government?” Hayman asked. “Anyone that can help Canadians who have been abandoned by their county? Please make some noise! We just want to come home.”

The couple has been dealing with cancelled flights, closed airports, curfews, travel restrictions and jammed phone lines as a result of Ecuador’s state of emergency.

“We have been abandoned by our country, and there are no provisions being made to get us back,” Hayman wrote in an email, adding that internet service was intermittent.

The pair was in the city of Ibarra in northern Ecuador, about a two-hour drive from the capital of Quito, on Thursday.

Hayman has met another Canadian family, two of whom are doctors, who are also trapped in Ecuador.

“We all have no way of getting out of the country,” Hayman said.

Emails to the Canadian Embassy in Quito result in generic responses, she said. “All other suggested contacts are automated messages or emails.”

Ecuador announced the suspension of international flights into the country on March 14 and declared a state of emergency that went into effect four days later.

After the flight ban was announced, Hayman got an electronic alert from Air Canada cancelling their return and advising them to rebook online.

But the couple has been informed Air Canada has cancelled flights until April 5, when the suspension is scheduled to end.

Ecuador has ordered a nightly curfew and nobody can leave their homes except to get groceries or medical help. Interprovincial travel has been suspended for 14 days, leaving them unable to access the capital or airport, Hayman said.

“We need to get back into the other province to get to the airport, if they open it up,” she said.

The couple left Canada for Ecuador on March 11 and travelled to a rural area of the country after arriving. So, they weren’t immediately aware of the country’s impending shutdown, Hayman said.

Quadra Island resident Tracey Hayman and her boyfriend are trapped in Ecuador and appealing to the Canadian government to get them home. Photo: Facebook

By the time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued his advisory for Canadians to come home March 16, Ecuador had already launched measures to isolate the country, she added.

“We were able to get on the last flight out of the jungle to the capital, Quito, only to find three flights running, which were all full, and the airport closing,” she said.

The couple managed to rent a car and get out of the capital and find a place to stay to ride out the state of emergency.

On Thursday, Hayman reassured her family and friends on social media that for the time being, they were safe with food, water and good hosts.

“We can only hope that in 12 days, the borders will open, but I suspect that will not be the case,” Hayman said.

“We need to get the word out there and make sure our country doesn’t forget about us.”

By Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/National Observer

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