Relieved and overjoyed: The two people from Cologne, who were stuck in a coastal village on the border to Panama on a trip to Colombia because of a countrywide Corona curfew, made the first stage on the way back home.
As Giuseppe Di Stefano (32) and Alina Gessel (33) reported to the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” on Wednesday evening (CEST), they were able to leave the village of Sapzurro by boat with a special permit and get to nearby Necocli. There they were expected by the pastor of the local Catholic parish and taken by car to the 200,000-inhabitant city of Apartado.
The local bishop of Apartado received the Cologne residents
Here they were received by the local bishop and served in his house. “The pastor even organized German beer,” reported Di Stefano. “It's a super cool experience.” Overall, the transfer went according to plan.
“The pastor set the price for the crossing for us. When I wanted to pay the boat driver, he said: 'Already happened.' We will of course transfer the money from Germany as soon as we are back. ”
His girlfriend reported on her tension and “mixed feelings”, since it was not clear until the departure from Sapzurro and still on the way to Necocli, “whether everything really works and what awaits us”. Both were touched by the helpfulness of the people in the region and the hospitality of the church representatives. Now they could take a deep breath, says Gessel.
With the arrival of a “Salvoconducto” (passport) promised by the German consulate in the Colombian capital Bogota, the pastor Di Stefano and Gessel intends to take a car from the diocese to the city of Medellìn, some 300 kilometers away. That should probably happen on Wednesday evening.
With the next flight to Germany
From there it should go with other travelers to Bogotà and then back to Germany with the next possible flight connection. After the successfully completed first stage, the happy end is now within reach for both of Cologne.
This was made possible not least by the mediation of the Catholic aid organizations Adveniat and Misereor, which have the best contacts in the region through partnership projects. The church network is considered the densest and most reliable there. A call for help from the Cologne couple reached the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” on Sunday and led to efforts to free the two of them from their predicament.