80 Vail Resorts employees from Ecuador are stuck in Colorado’s mountain towns
A month ago, Grace Barrera had a seasonal job picking up trash and cleaning tables for about $12 an hour at a mountaintop restaurant on Vail Mountain. It was a job she liked because the people where she worked “were very kind,” she said.
But now, the 28-year-old is one of about 80 Ecuadorians stranded in Eagle and Summit counties because the ski areas have been shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak. She has a plane ticket to return home on April 30, but she could not afford the exorbitant change fee to re-book for an earlier flight, she said. And even if she could, Ecuador closed its borders because of the coronavirus outbreak the same weekend Colorado ski resorts were closed.
So with two parents and a sister back in Ecuador, Barrera lives rent-free in Vail employee housing, and she waits.
“I’m sad because I can’t go back home and see my family,” said Barrera, who is from Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. “If I had the money, I would buy the flight, but I can’t.”
Susy Osorio-Kinsky of Denver, a native of Ecuador who has been a resident of Colorado and U.S. citizen for 20 years, is working on behalf of Ecuador’s consul general to assist the workers who are stuck in the mountains of Colorado, 3,200 miles from home. They are here on J-1 exchange student work visas for a few months during the ski season.
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