East Tennessee family stuck in Peru returns home

East Tennessee family stuck in Peru returns home

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – A family trip to Peru turned into a nightmare after deadly protests broke out in Peru.

The protests began after Peru’s President Pedro Castillo was impeached for trying to dissolve congress.

Carmen Simpher, a woman from Maryville, planned a family trip to Peru to visit the mountain village of Machu Picchu but got stuck in the country once the protests caused all forms of transportation to stop.

“We were worried about how long the food supply would last and how everyone would react to food becoming limited. That’s when it got to where we were like, ‘We’re ready to get out of here,’” Simpher said.

East Tennessee family stuck in Peru returns home
Before and after of protests erupting in the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus), a historic Jesuit church in Cusco.(Carmen Simpher)

Simpher said the protestors created roadblocks that made it difficult for them to make their way to Lima, the capital and the largest city of Peru, where they could leave the country.

Her travel group was a total of 14 people and had to walk, create make-shift train track carts and ride in the back of a box truck to get closer to Lima.

According to the Associated Press, the death toll from the civil unrest rose to 26 on Monday. Simpher said her Peruvian tour guides did all they could to help keep everyone safe.

“Our guides were very passive. They were very compassionate to the protestors. They were just mostly looking out for our safety and defusing every situation that they could,” Simpher said.

After arriving in Lima, Simpher and her group were able to get a flight to Atlanta and the last stop Knoxville. They arrived back home on Monday night, a journey that took more than 20 hours.

Peru’s Congress has tentatively endorsed a plan on Tuesday to hold early elections in an attempt to defuse growing tensions after lawmakers ousted President Pedro Castillo.

“You could tell everybody’s tensions were high, we were worried,” Simpher said.