7 Wisconsinites return home after being held in Peru amid lockdown: 'Words aren't enough'

Art Sprague

MILWAUKEE -- If absence really makes the heart grow fonder, Art Sprague's heart is pushing maximum capacity.

"Words aren't enough," Sprague said. "I'm gonna hug 'em, or do what, I don't know."

Sprague was separated from his son for 10 days.

Mark Sprague, his wife, Magie, and five of their friends were trapped in Peru. The Wisconsinites were on their way to a wedding when the coronavirus pandemic hit and the Peruvian president put his country on lockdown.

The friends were quarantined in their hotel rooms for days, fighting their way through red tape to get on a plane bound for Brazil -- en route to Wisconsin.

Finally, they touched down in Milwaukee Thursday, March 26. It was an arrival delayed by days and finally celebrated with family.

"I'm so happy to be out of there," said Mark Sprague.

The long-awaited reunion was short and bittersweet, though. While they escaped Peru, all seven friends are now headed back into quarantine -- a precaution they're happy to take, close to loved ones in their own homes.

According to the U.S. State Department, more than 50,000 Americans are stuck abroad -- 4,000 in Peru alone. The U.S. is negotiating with those countries to bring them back, but right now it's not clear when those people will get back home.