Nations across the world are imposing travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. On March 16, Germany closed its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Germany is where Hedi Perotto is. The Wilmington resident went there three weeks ago for a family reunion.
Hedi Perotto was born and raised in the small village of Ottersheim in western Germany, near the borders of Luxembourg,Belgium and France.
“Yeah, I have three of my sisters who live here in the village and then my two brothers don't live here, but they live close by within 10 miles or so.”
Apologies for the phone quality. Cell coverage isn’t great in her village of 2,000.
Her trips back to visit family are usually fun adventures. This month she and her sisters were going to spend a week on an island in the North Sea, playing board games, telling stories and laughing. But when the country started to shut down, those plans went by the wayside.
Her April 12 flight home was cancelled. So she’s working on other arrangements. But Hedi is now concerned about being on an airplane with a few hundred strangers.
“Yes, I definitely am. I have concerns, but more than myself my daughters have huge concerns. My daughters do not want me to go on an airplane. But sooner or later I have to go on one. But right now, which is one of the reasons I haven't tried much harder to get back home because of that concern. I read today that American airlines is making accommodations for travelers, put it a bit more space between travelers on their flights. But they didn't go into specifics on how would they going to do that.”
And she says just reaching the airlines is difficult. A lot of voice recordings. A lot of emails that have not been answered.
“To be honest, the first two or three days when all those travel ban news started, I was really stressed out mostly about the decisions, you know, the decision to go, or not go and how much money I'm going to have to spend.... But now I have to admit I'm just, I'm very relaxed and just learn how to roll with the punches and one day, then the next, I just don't think too much about it.”
Villagers in Ottersheim are making due. In the evenings, families go on their decks and porches with musical instruments, and play for the neighborhood. Everyone is helping make the best of a difficult situation.
"I'm with my sister and her husband and they're really cool people and, we with take care of each other, which is wonderful. And the people in this village in general have just a very strong sense of community here and people are actively trying to help each other out in any way they can. You know, because we're all older here. Somebody left homemade face masks at our door the other day. Another day somebody left a package with vegetables and foods and left a note - if you need anything, call us. Things like that. So if you have to be stuck someplace, this is a really nice place to be stuck.”
But make no mistake about it. Hedi Perotto wants to get home. And her two grown daughters in Wilmington – Lisa and Sandy – want her home as well.
Vince Winkel, WHQR News.