Alberta couple stuck in Uruguay during COVID-19 pandemic after reaching Patagonia

It was going to be the trip of a lifetime, attempted times before but never with success. Among enthusiasts, it’s a crowning achievement.

A pair of Alberta travellers trying to make the journey hit a once-in-a-generation roadblock.

Canmore resident Jeremy Kroeker and Calgarian Elle West had been saving up and planning a return trip to the southernmost tip of Argentina on the backs of their motorcycles.

They made it to Ushuaia, Argentina, after leaving Canmore in August 2019. Kroeker and West also splurged on a boat trip to Antarctica. After setting foot on a third continent during their trip, they pointed their motorcycles north.

“We made it to Buenos Aires,” Kroeker told Global News on Saturday. “We spent a week there. And we took a ferry across to Colonia, Uruguay, with the intention to travel around this country a bit and then moving on. And that’s when borders all around us began to close, and hotels and hostels closed as well.”

“When you’re riding a motorcycle every day, you’re moving and you’re moving and you’re moving, and there’s new stimulus every day. Then all of a sudden, you come to a full stop.”

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The couple arrived on the north side of the Rio de la Plata on March 12 as countries worldwide were putting in restrictions to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.

They haven’t left the country since.

Having travelled to Panama via motorcycle in the past, the couple found a 315-square-foot apartment to rent in Colonia. Grocery shopping and frequent visits to a nearby beach are their only trips out but they know little Spanish.

Not having to spend money on gas and motorbike parts has kept their expenses down, but they are beginning to find money worries creeping in.

How they’ll get home with or without their motorcycles remains an unanswered question.

Uruguay shut its borders to all travel in mid-March. There was one repatriation flight out of Montevideo in mid-April, but they skipped it because they didn’t feel they were in an emergency situation. They had already planned to remain outside of Canada until September anyway, including renting out his condo.

Kroeker and West said they don’t regret taking this trip.

“It’s good to have this reminder that even if a pandemic hits or even if you drop your bike or even if some of those rough things happen along the way, it’s still wonderful to have gone on that journey rather than stay home and not take a chance,” West said.

“I would do it again 10 times out of 10,” said Kroeker.

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