Stranded surfer says Argentina must repatriate dogs too


Lima (AFP)

An Argentine adventurer stranded in Peru because of the coronavirus lockdown says he wants to go home, but not without his dogs which he has adopted on his travels.

"We are waiting in Lima for a humanitarian flight that will take my pets so we can fly to Argentina," 33-year-old surfer Michael Graef told AFP.

After walking and cycling through much of Peru for 40 days, Graef arrived in Lima, where he spends the nights with his pets in a tent near the Argentine embassy.

"I am waiting for a response from my government. They told me there are no flights and that pets cannot fly," says Graef, from the northeastern town of Puerto Rico, which was founded by Swiss and German settlers.

Graef said he began his journey through South America before the pandemic began. On his way through Colombia and Ecuador he picked up two dogs, pit bulls called "Chamo" and "Nilo".

"They didn't abandon me and I don't plan on abandoning them. I will take my pets, flying or walking, but I am going with my pets," says Graef.

He said he bought "Chamo" from a Venezuelan as he walked through Colombia and acquired "Nilo" in Ecuador.

"I had to go through quarantine with them, looking for food. It was difficult and all that time they didn't abandon me, even without food."

He added: "The situation was critical."

Graef said he wanted to travel because "I needed to get to know my America to savor cultures and people."

Peru is the second worst hit country in Latin America after Brazil, with more than 260,000 cases and more than 8,400 fatalities from COVID-19.