A WEST Cork couple were caught up in the unrest in Peru last week during a holiday to South America.
Jerome O’Mahony from Skibbereen and Donna Dennehy from Kinsale were in Cusco city last Wednesday when rioting began.
Civil unrest took hold after former president Pedro Castillo was impeached and arrested, but his removal from power led to riots and a state of emergency was imposed, meaning ease of movement was restricted.
Rail and air travel services were disrupted and Jerome and Donna were left stranded in Cusco ahead of their planned departure for a trip to the Machu Picchu world heritage site.
‘All tours to Machu Picchu and other tourist areas were cancelled, and the airport was shut for three days,’ Jerome told The Southern Star.
While their long-planned visit to the Inca citadel was off the cards, they were still hopeful of a visit to the famed volcanic Galapagos islands off Ecuador.
The streets of Cusco were deserted once the state of emergency was imposed last week, but the couple were locked into a café one evening, as a protest passed by outside.
Donna posted a video of the protestors gathering in the city centre, some armed with sticks and baseball bats. She explained that the riot police had secured the businesses in the city and were also protecting a cathedral from possible damage.
She explained later that they felt fairly safe, despite the large crowds, as there was also a major police presence in the city all week.
‘We met up with other travellers who had set up a What’s App group and were all in the same boat, all hoping to get out,’ explained Jerome.
With just a few flights allowed to take off from Cusco, the couple were able to get to the airport and luckily managed to catch a flight to Ecuador late on Friday night, but only those with boarding passes were allowed to access the airport.
Many more tourists missed their flights, with chaos at the airport and long queues inside.
But Jerome and Donna finally got to tick at least one thing off their ‘bucket list’ – when they landed in the Galapagos on Monday.