Raleigh woman and others from NC stuck in Guatemala as COVID-19 cuts travel

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — — Hundreds of Americans are stuck in Guatemala right now as flights and borders have shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dozens of those people are from North Carolina.

Claudia Gunter, who lives in Raleigh, visits Guatemala every year.

“I’m from Guatemala so my whole family’s here,” said Gunter.

When she arrived for her trip earlier this month, it was different than in the past.

“They took our temperature and made sure we’re not showing any symptoms and that afternoon, they started saying we’re not letting any more flights come into the country,” Gunter said.

She thought they’d still allow American citizens to leave though.

A few days later, her husband found out her flight back to the U.S. on March 30h was canceled as the borders closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“They told him the earliest flight is June the 2nd. I was like, whoa, I mean I’d love to be with my family, but I don’t know that I can, I mean that’s like three months,” Gunter said.

She came across a Facebook group for other Americans stranded in Guatemala. There are hundreds — including dozens from North Carolina.

“We just want to be with our loved ones. There are people that have family members that are ill, so it’s tough,” said Gunter.

Some of the other travelers have health conditions and rely on medication.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking, especially those who are sick too and they’re not in their country,” she said.
Some have driven to Mexico or Belize and caught flights from there just to get home.

“But I was kind of nervous because I’m by myself and my husband’s like, ‘No, don’t do it,'” said Gunter.

Instead, she’s hoping for the best as the situation changes daily.

“It would be nice if they could communicate between the governments and find a solution to get us out of the country.”

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala said it has coordinated charter flights to the United States.

The embassy said it doesn’t know when civilian flights will resume in Guatemala after the U.S. government-coordinated charter flights.

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