Where Sandra Garcia Gomez lives in northwest Spain, snow is unheard of and the few mountains they have would barely rate as a bump along the foothills of Colorado.
That’s why Sandra’s family of four couldn’t wait to visit.
Now they might not be able to return home as planned.
The family’s long-awaited sojourn to visit childhood friends in Centennial quickly turned from a 15-day snow frolic to a frantic blitz of emails and phone calls trying to get back.
“It’s been impossible, frightening and unbelievable all tied into one,” said Garcia, a part-time pharmacy worker in the coastal hamlet of Sada in Spain’s region of Galicia. “We are stuck here with no way of knowing whether we’ll be able to get home next week, next month or next fall.”
Garcia, her husband, Cesar Freire Lesta, and the couple’s two young children are among an unknown number of foreigners stuck in the United States desperately trying, most unsuccessfully, to find ways to return home, some to a country already locked down by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Spain has nearly 48,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the disease that comes from the virus, and has logged more than 3,400 deaths. Residents are not allowed outside more than two at a time, not even inside a car.
The pandemic has turned into a mad global dash of citizens trying to return to their homelands, including more than 13,000 Americans stuck overseas, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
In Iraq, Katie Biniki, a 27-year-old emergency room nurse from Centennial who went to the Middle East as part of a medical-humanitarian effort to treat refugees in border camps, can’t even find an open airport, let alone a flight out.