Coronavirus: Concord native trapped in Peru for 2 months finally coming home

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area native Kyle Sweet will finally return home today after spending nearly two months abroad, trapped in Peru as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world.

What started as a dream for Kyle Sweet of Concord - to work remotely for two months while visiting family in Peru and discovering the rich ruins - quickly turned into a trip from hell. As news of the coronavirus swept the world, borders were closed, and Sweet became one of the thousands of Americans trapped abroad.

ABC7 News reporter Julian Glover spoke Sweet via Zoom video call as he sat on a bus in the capital city of Lima waiting to board a flight back to Miami.

"There's definitely times that were very tough mentally. Especially because I was in kind of in an outer area in the countryside. I couldn't quite do like a Zoom meeting like this or a video interview with my buddies," said Sweet.

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With little direction from the State Department and U.S. Embassy in Peru to get him back to the Bay Area, Sweet turned to social media.

"So, what impacted me the most is these just three amazing people who stepped up, like in a time where I was really in need," said Sweet.

The Facebook group Americans Stuck in Peru has more than 5,500 members and counting. Ainsley Katz is one of the admins. She stepped up to help others after helping get her father and his girlfriend out of Cusco, Peru several weeks ago. Katz said she had to help after seeing how overwhelmed the U.S. government was with repatriation efforts. She is a civilian and is unaffiliated with any humanitarian groups.

"I ended up creating a spreadsheet registry of everyone that I knew was stuck in Peru and it reached up to 3,000 people who put their name in the spread sheet" said Katz.

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She keeps busy by mostly answering questions and connecting the stranded to resources within the country, but perhaps her biggest effort is arranging ground transportation to get stranded Americans like Sweet to the capital of Lima in order to board a flight back to the states. It took Sweet 27 hours via bus to make it from the quaint countryside to Lima. He'll catch a flight from Lima to Miami and then to San Francisco before he can finally return home. And he's already thinking of coming back.

"I'd like to go back to Peru and actually be able to explore everything instead of, you know, explore the interior of the house" he said.

Once Sweet makes it back home Wednesday morning he'll then have a 14-day self-quarantine to look forward to. He said he's glad to be coming home finally but wants to raise awareness for the hundreds of other Americans he estimates are still trapped in Peru who may not have the means to pay for the $2,000 plane ticket like he did.

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