BACK HOME: Gabrielle Ryan in front of the Qantas jet which took them from a military base in Lima, Peru, direct to Brisbane.
BACK HOME: Gabrielle Ryan in front of the Qantas jet which took them from a military base in Lima, Peru, direct to Brisbane.

BACK HOME: Couple escape lockdown in Peru

AFTER 28 days of lockdown, with police escorts and an emergency flight from a military air base thrown in, this isn't your average honeymoon.

But the dramatic tales take a back seat as Gabrielle and Matthew Ryan take a breath and describe the overwhelming feeling right now - relief.

The couple have just arrived back on home soil after being flown out of Peru on a flight organised by the Australian government. The couple have spent almost a month cooped up in a hotel in the northern town of Cajamarca.

"We are so relieved to be home, it has been a very long and uncertain process and even though we have two more weeks in quarantine at least there is an end date in sight," Ms Ryan said.

The pair were in Peru as part of their honeymoon, a cycling trip through South America, when the Government abruptly locked down the country to stop the spread of coronavirus.

 

EN ROUTE: Gabrielle Ryan in Cajamarca, Peru before boarding a bus to Lima organised by the Australian Government.
EN ROUTE: Gabrielle Ryan in Cajamarca, Peru before boarding a bus to Lima organised by the Australian Government.

 

In a matter of days they went from cycling through spectacular countryside to being abandoned, alone, in a hotel.

Ms Ryan, a former Clarence Valley sailing champion said the support of friends and family back home had been "overwhelming" and had made "a difficult time tolerable".

"Just knowing you have that network of people looking out for you just makes all the difference," she said.

While Ms Ryan jokes that at one stage they were resigned to the fact they "were Peruvians now" the possibility of being stuck in a foreign country indefinitely was very real.

The high level of uncertainty coupled with what Ms Ryan felt was lack of communication by the Australian Government had the pair fearing they wouldn't be coming home any time soon.

"There was definitely a period where we had thought the worst and felt quite abandoned," she said.

 

FINAL CHECK: Matthew Ryan has a quick medical on the side of the road in Cajamarca, Peru before boarding a bus to Lima organised by the Australian Government.
FINAL CHECK: Matthew Ryan has a quick medical on the side of the road in Cajamarca, Peru before boarding a bus to Lima organised by the Australian Government.

 

Even in the last few days, when it became clear the Australian Government would be assisting them out of Peru, a cancellation followed by repeated timetable shifts, left the pair nervous.

"We were told the bus would pick us up on Friday morning then Friday morning came and we were told it would be coming Friday afternoon," she said.

"Then on Friday evening when it still hadn't arrived we were anxiously pacing around the hotel. We were very relieved when it showed up."

They were subjected to a mandatory health check before being given a police escort - the Ryan's second of the trip - out of the regional town.

The couple spent two days in the capital before they were finally on their way to a military air base to board a Qantas flight bound for Brisbane.

FINAL STOP: Matthew and Gabrielle Ryan enter a military airfield in Lima, Peru before boarding a flight to Brisbane organised by the Australian Government.
FINAL STOP: Matthew and Gabrielle Ryan enter a military airfield in Lima, Peru before boarding a flight to Brisbane organised by the Australian Government.

All civilian airfields in the country had been closed and all domestic travel had to be Government sanctioned.

Being located outside Lima or Cuzco had made their situation increasingly complicated and they waited and watched as several repatriation flights left without them in previous days and weeks before they were finally given the go ahead to travel.

Ms Ryan had been vocal in calling on the Government to be more open about their situation and while she recognised there were things that could have been managed better, she was just glad to be home.

So what now?

Ms Ryan says after their mandatory quarantine in Brisbane it will be straight back to Mororo to enjoy some cheese and bickies, and perhaps a beer, with her family

"We are holding on to the happy ending," she said.


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