News - April 1, 2020

Wageningen students stuck in Peru

Albert Sikkema

Wageningen student Jildau van Dam is stranded in Peru with three other Wageningen students. The corona measures prevent her from travelling, and she can hardly leave her home. ‘I am stuck and bored’. She has fixed her hopes on repatriation to the Netherlands on 6 April.

©Jildau van Dam

Jildau is a bachelor student in International Land and Water Management currently doing an internship in Peru. She resides in Cuzco. ‘Two weeks ago, everyone was quarantined. The borders were closed, and the only way to leave the country is through repatriation flights. These flights are exclusively permitted to take off from a military airfield near the capital Lima.’ Lima is a two-hour flight from Cuzco.

Van Dam was doing an internship in Peru with her fellow student Ruben Lombarg. The internship has been halted as the company she was working with has now closed. ‘My internship requires me to do fieldwork, but I am unable to travel, so my research is interrupted.’

‘I must stay at home. There is a curfew, and people are prohibited from leaving their homes in the evenings and nights. During the daytime, we are only allowed outside to shop for necessities. A face mask is compulsory when outside. There is a lot of police on the streets, and the police are unlike in the Netherlands. I have not yet been arrested, but other foreigners have, for example, during an alcohol check that was suddenly put in effect. We are not allowed to sit outside. The situation in Cuzco is unpleasant, and I want to leave.’

The Dutch embassy in Peru is working hard on getting Dutch citizens repatriated, van Dam states. ‘There was a flight to the Netherlands yesterday, but only Dutch citizens near Lima could be boarded. I hope we will be able to take the next flight out in on 6 April. The embassy is organising this flight.’

The biggest challenge is how Van Dam, Lombarg and their two fellow students from Wageningen can get to Lima from Cuzco. ‘All flights from Cuzco to Lima are fully booked for the next few days. Besides, the Peruvian government wants us to spend no more than 2 hours in the capital before boarding a flight to the Netherlands. We might be able to travel by bus, but no-one is eager to do so. About a hundred Dutch nationals are needing to travel to Lima for repatriation. I hope we will manage it.’

Time to kill
Until then, Van Dam has some time to kill. What can she do at home in Cuzco? ‘The internet is slow, so I am unable to watch any Netflix series. I’m trying to learn some Spanish, do some research and exercise a little. I am permitted to visit the supermarket once a day.’