Beth Rosenzweig and Ray Bahr touched down on the picturesque island of Utila on March 9 for what they thought would be a week-long scuba diving trip off the coast of Honduras.
But on Friday night, days after they were scheduled to fly home to the Boston suburbs, they were firing off calls and emails from their room in the Utila Lodge, frantically trying to arrange a return flight.
The couple are among the thousands of Americans stranded abroad as countries close their borders and airlines abruptly cancel flights in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The State Department on Thursday issued a rare Level 4 travel advisory telling U.S. citizens not to travel internationally and warning that they may have to remain outside the United States for an “indefinite time frame.” The situation has forced travelers around the globe to take drastic steps to find ways back into the country.
Rosenzweig and Bahr were supposed to leave Honduras the morning of March 16, they said, but their flight was delayed, then canceled, due to new travel restrictions the government announced the night before.
Bahr, 63, said he called the U.S. Embassy and left a voicemail but got no response. He also tried to reach the State Department, to no avail, he said. The Air Force on Friday evacuated dozens of Americans from Honduras on a pair of charter flights, but the couple wasn’t on them. They say they’re in the dark about whether another evacuation flight will come to get them or others facing the same predicament.
“Our government has literally stepped back from their responsibilities,” Bahr said, adding that he believes there are more than a dozen Americans stuck at his hotel alone.
In the meantime, Bahr and Rosenzweig, 61, say they’ve spent thousands of dollars booking flights out, only to have them canceled or postponed.
At the moment, they’re booked on a flight scheduled to leave March 28, but they still need to find a way to get off the island and get to the airport. Their only other viable option is to drop $2,500 each on an American charter flight to Miami, but it’s not clear yet if that plane will be able to enter Honduras, they said.
Honduras had 24 confirmed cases of covid-19 as of early Saturday morning, and the couple worry about the outbreak growing before they can leave.
“Right now, it’s important for us to get home,” Bahr said. “If I’m going to be sick someplace, I want to be sick in the Boston area.”
A State Department spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.