Norwich womens’ Chile fuel protest escape

Two Norfolk holidaymakers who had to break through fuel protests to return home from Chile are safely back in Norfolk.

Sandra Lumbard, 54, of Oaklands, Taverham, and her friend Dot Cushing, from Great Witchingham, were forced to miss a visit to Ushuaia in Argentina, commonly regarded as the world's most southern city, after strikers and marchers blocked roads to protest against fuel tax increases in Chile.

The pair were trapped in Puntas Arenas in southern Chile, but were able to return home from Buenos Aires on their planned return flight last week.

However, delays caused by the protestors meant they lost six days of their three-week adventure, including the two-and-a-half day Ushuaia visit.

Mrs Lumbard, who works for Cambridge Occupational Analysts in Sparham, said: 'We were just frustrated that we weren't able to see all the things we were going to see, so to lose six days out of three weeks is a big loss.'

But the pair were still able to see a number of the country's sights, including the spectacular 11,000ft high Mount Fitz Roy in Patagonia and Iguaca Falls.

The protestors prevented them from getting to Punta Arenas Airport to catch a flight they had been offered after removing the driver's keys from the van they had been travelling in with other tourists. Instead, they were told they would have to walk the 8km back to their hostel in the rain, although they were able to get a lift with passers-by.

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Eventually, they were able to break through the barricades with the help of a Spanish tourist who was with them and was able to put the group at ease.

Mrs Lumbard, who lives with husband Dave, 57, added: 'We weren't ever in any danger although we were concerned for our driver when they pulled him out of the van to get the keys.' She praised the Spanish tourist, adding: 'If I had been on my own I would have been scared for my safety.

'As it was, he was able to reassure us about what was safe and what wasn't.'

Have you had a dramatic experience abroad? Contact Evening News reporter Dominic Bareham on 01603 72419 or email dominic.bareham@archant.co.uk