Coast couple ‘trapped’ by virus scare heading for Madrid
A WELL-known Noosa couple among a group of desperate Aussie tourists trapped in Morocco after the country closed its borders in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic finally hope to soon "escape" back to Australia.
In fact the retired school teachers Paul and Mary Jones earlier this morning reported they we are on a boat to Spain before they were going by bus to Granada.
The plan at that stage was reach Madrid to hopefully get a flight home.
Their later update said: "We have officially arrived in Spain - Algeciras after a two hour ferry trip. Quite lumpy.
"It's midnight. We will now travel for three hours on the bus to Granada. We stay in Granada tonight and then nine-hour bus trip to Madrid.
"We are going to try and leave from Granada tomorrow with our travel agent booking flights. "We could not stay in Morocco - Sunday would have been too late to try and get out."
The couple should be enjoying the trip of lifetime touring overseas to celebrate Paul's 60th birthday, but found themselves stranded without any idea of a release date in Casablanca.
"We're totally in limbo. We can't get home," Paul, a former Peregian Beach Surf Life Saving Club president said yesterday.
"We have people on the tour running out of medications, others who have elderly parents relying on them to get home."
The Jones sent out urgent appeals to the Australian embassy, the tour company, Australian politicians and the media to try and end what feels like an interminable entrapment.
They were 10 days into a 21 day tour with 33 Australians and four Kiwis.
"Everyone's been very, very calm about it as Australians usually are, but in the last 24 hours its sort of come to reality we're stranded.
"Whereas before we were going along … it'll be okay, it'll be okay and not knowing the language I suppose we've been a bit naive.
"At the end of the day we just want to go home," he said.
Paul said his group were told originally there was a chance they would be on a flight today out to Istanbul.
"Then Turkey said, this is what we were told, 'well, you can't land here'. That brought everything to a stop.
"Previously to that we were told we might fly to Lisbon or to Paris and they never came to fruition either because those countries weren't letting people fly in either," he said.
Paul said the tour group has been in Morocco for eight days and none of the group are showing any signs of being ill with coronavirus.
"Everyone's fine really, the issue is how long are we going to be here?"
He said everyone thought they would be home by March 23, so if their forced stay goes beyond that for any length of time the group is worried what they will be able to do.
"It's all gone pear-shaped in seven or eight days. This was a trip for my 60th birthday and everything was going along nicely and now it's not," Paul said.
Paul said they would all much prefer to be back on Aussie soil even if it means doing 14 days of self-quarantine.
"That's a small price to pay for being home, we actually don't have a house to go to at the moment.
"We're waiting on one to be finished."
The couple sold their Castaways Beach home to build in Coolum so if they do make it back soon, they will be staying at a holiday rental unit owned by friends.