The mother of a stranded tourist in Peru is hoping her daughter will make it home for Christmas as hundreds remain grounded amid protests

“I was up all night worrying,” Lutsko told CNN from her home in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday. “I will be so pleased to hear that she is back on US soil.”

According to Lutsko, her daughter Madison Spellman, a graduate student and traveling nurse, was at a coffee shop when a group of protesters took to the streets. The employees locked the doors and encouraged everyone to squat, Spellman told her mother.

Castillo was charged and arrested in early December after announcing his plan to dissolve Congress. The unrest sparked by his arrest has prompted international warnings against travel to Peru. Among the stranded travelers are Peruvians, South Americans, Americans and Europeans.

Lutsko said she sent messages to both the White House and the US Embassy asking for help getting her daughter home.

“I feel helpless,” she said.

Next week, Lutsko is expecting a family to arrive from out of town for the holidays. Spellman was due to fly to Ohio on Christmas Eve to join the rest of her loved ones.

“This is our chance to see her and spend time with her,” Lutsko said. “Right now we’re just waiting to see if she’ll make that flight.”

“Some people are panicking”

Brian Vega is among those stuck in Aguas Calientes, a town that serves as the main access point to Machu Picchu. As days pass with those stranded still unable to walk, Vega says some are panicking.

Vega, who has been on a solo trip since November 28, was due to leave the city on Tuesday, the day the demonstrations began.

“It was an evolving situation,” he told CNN. “You can see the panic in some.”

There was talk of impending food and water shortages and a noticeable shortage of medicines, he said.

Vega, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue captain, says he’s trying to stay calm and may try to hike out of town, as others have done in recent days.

The trek would be an 18-mile trek along the train tracks, which Vega says has been successfully completed by many. His plan after that would be to take him to the airport.

Peru’s Transport Ministry said on Friday that flights from Cusco’s Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport have resumed after being temporarily suspended amid protests in the country. Operations to and from Alfredo Rodríguez Ballon International Airport in Arequipa remain suspended.

Vega has been in touch with many at home, including his fellow firefighters, who he says are doing everything they can to get him home.

Like many others, Vega hopes to get home in time to spend Christmas with his family.

“I love Christmas and my children and my wife,” said the father of two. “It hurts so hopefully I’ll make it back.”

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