Powerless in Peru


Chloe Knerr and her family in Peru (Photo/Chloe Knerr)

Chloe Knerr, Print Staff Writer

On March 13, my brother, senior Spencer Knerr, and I got up early, hopped into an Uber with my dad and my uncle, and headed for JFK airport surrounded by a light drizzle. In 24 hours, we would be in Cusco, Peru, ready for a five day hike up Machu Picchu. Two days later, we found ourselves at a restaurant in Plaza de Armas. We ordered traditional Peruvian dishes: corn cakes, ceviche, sopas. However, what we didn’t order was the shocking news that the Peruvian president Martín Vizcarra had announced that cities in Peru would be shutting down and that all international travel would be suspended for a minimum of “quince días.” I will never forget the feeling that flooded me. My stomach flipped, my mouth dropped, and I stifled a disbelieving laugh. I never saw this coming. 

Fast forward to today, and the entire world is well informed of the circumstances surrounding the novel coronavirus. It’s crazy to think that just two weeks ago, we never saw this virus as something that would derail our lives so much. On the morning of March 17, my family and I found out that our hike was cancelled and that we would be quarantined in our hotel for the next two weeks. We put as much effort as possible into connecting with the US Embassy, spreading awareness, and attempting to find a flight. Along with about 1800 other Americans stuck in Peru, our new living situation was an obvious shock and we both knew it would take some adjusting in order to adapt to it. 

We filled our times with many activities. Grabbing a few extra hours of sleep, (attempting) to cook with the limited ingredients we had, creating home workouts, and, perhaps the most ambitious of all, creating our own music video. Many of you may have seen our video, with original lyrics and vocals by my uncle, Jesse Carter. As of now, we have over 4100 views on YouTube and have had our video shared and published on many different social media platforms. Along with another family, the Carsons, who we met at our hotel, we directed the video entirely by ourselves and utilized the hotel facilities to our advantage. The product we ended up with was perhaps much more than we expected. Luckily, we were able to get a few of the limited spots on a government-chartered plane on Friday, March 27.

We returned to Princeton two days later after flying to Miami and driving up from there. To wrap up this unexpected adventure, my family and I were interviewed by Good Morning America later that night. My brother, senior Spencer Knerr, reflected on our time in Peru, stating: “Being quarantined in Peru was a very emotional and unfamiliar experience for all of us. It was just the kind of thing I never expected to happen. However, we were able to make the best out of the situation by creating an original music video and song,” a sentiment with which I agree completely.  Making a video to share with the world made the experience more memorable and gave us an even better story to tell.