Midhurst mother and daughter return to UK after being stuck in Peru

A Midhurst mother and daughter who were stuck in Peru without a flight have returned to the UK safely.

Mathilda and Rachel
Mathilda and Rachel

Mum Rachel Billsberry-Grass went to visit her daughter Mathilda who was travelling the region between her A levels and heading to university.

Her mother had left the creature comforts of West Sussex behind to travel to Peru with the hope of experiencing world heritage sites like the Inca Trails and Macchu Picchu

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Rachel and Mathilda received an email with details about a chartered flight out of the South American country at about 11.30 on Saturday night.

Mathilda said: “We were told we needed to be at the airport at 7am but we only got the email at 11.30pm.

“If [Rachel] hadn’t been awake then we wouldn’t have seen it.”

They set their alarms for 5am the next day and struggled getting to the airport due to the lack of taxis.

Once they arrived they had to go to a Holiday Inn opposite the airport as it had been chained shut, Mathilda said.

“We were told that it was fairly likely that we would be able to get on the flight. Actually, only 12 people turned up and I think some people probably didn’t see the email in time.

“We are so lucky that we did see it.”

The customs office consisted of medical tents and a sniffer dog and the duo have said they are ‘absolutely’ happy to be back on British soil.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet because of how the trip ended and even isolating here is better than how it was [in Peru].

“While it’s not back to normal, it is nice to be back.

“The trip was incredible and I don’t regret going at all.

“I am very glad my mum was there with me. This is why I felt bad for all the other fellow travelers out there. It was such a scary situation.”

Mathilda’s grasp of Spanish helped them to communicate and get help from people in Peru.

Has the experience bought the pair closer together?

“We were always quite close,” Mathilda said.

“I think we had to look after each other more because it was just the two of us and we were spending all day together.”