SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Sacramento father says the pandemic stranded him in violent Colombia.
It was supposed to be a short vacation in February, but out of money, and no room left on his credit cards, Joshua Baron couldn’t afford to get home.READ MORE: 'I Don't Think That's Fair': Allora Co-Owner Says Staff Was Bumped Down Vaccine List
“I missed Father’s Day, I’m going to be missing my daughter’s birthday,” he said. “It really hurts.”
Trapped in Colombia since February, Baron arrived for a three-week trip when the pandemic hit – and Colombia sealed its borders. His return ticket on Avianca Airlines was useless.
“Nightmare. Nightmare, that would best describe it. A nightmare,” Baron said.
Within weeks, he maxed out his two credit cards. then with unpaid bills at home, his credit card companies slashed his limits.
When the United States government worked with Spirit Airlines to evacuate Americans in Colombia at cost, Baron said he couldn’t afford the deeply discounted flight.READ MORE: 'My Nephew Died A Hero': Family Honors Man From Sacramento Mistakenly Shot And Killed By Idaho Police
Staying with friends, violence in the country spiked – murders, kidnappings – then he said he was robbed.
“I do feel victimized – over and over and over each day,” he said.
But Baron still had that Avianca ticket. When the country reopened its borders in September, he says Avianca booked him on three different flights home, but canceled each, so he turned to Call Kurtis.
We reached out to the state department and Avianca Airlines asking how they could get him home. The state department says it has repatriation loans, interest-free for 90-days. They take your passport until you pay it back. Baron didn’t know about the program.
Once we reached out to Avianca, they explained they had a backlog of 2 million travelers, but booked him on a flight home on November 28.
“I finally got home,” Baron said. “With my daughters. It feels good.”MORE NEWS: 3-Car Crash Forces I-80 Lane Closures, CHP Says
The federal government arranged hundreds of humanitarian flights that brought more than 200,000 stranded citizens home worldwide. We’ve learned if your credit took a hit over the pandemic, you can put a note in your credit file explaining it.