A British couple travelling the world with their pet pug Pebbles say they are stranded in Central America because they can’t take him home on a repatriation flight.
Abbey Walsh, 25 and Hugh Thomas, 25, visited more than 25 countries with Pebbles but their plans were thrown into jeopardy when the coronavirus pandemic grounded planes across the world.
They landed in Costa Rica on March 12 and were offered a repatriation flight by the British Embassy, but they claim they would have had to abandon Pebbles.
The couple, from Newport, South Wales, refused to leave Pebbles and have been stuck in San Jose ever since.
Abbey, who runs a marketing firm with Hugh, said: ‘When they suggested we leave Pebbles behind, I thought they were joking.
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‘We would never abandon her – she is a member of our family, she’s like our child. We are all in this together, and we won’t go home until we can all go together.
‘A few days after we arrived they closed the borders to foreigners, all the national parks, beaches and they put curfews in place.
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‘We have been watching the daily updates from the UK and as soon as it was announced that citizens would start to be repatriated, I emailed the British Embassy in Costa Rica.
‘They called me the same day to let me know they had a flight to Germany and from there they would help us arrive into the UK but it was the following day.
‘It can take three to ten days to get pet export documents anyways but the Embassy wasn’t sure if pets were allowed in the first place so we said no.
‘We are lucky the owner of the Airbnb we are staying in has allowed us to stay for as long as we need and gave us a discount.’
The pair got Pebbles as a puppy in 2015, and have since taken her to 28 countries all over the world, including Mexico, Canada, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Lithuania, Spain, France Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria and Hungary.
They left the UK on January 18 heading to Canada for a fortnight, then Mexico, planning to travel for two years all over the Americas.
But after arriving in Costa Rica their trip was put on hold due to the virus outbreak.
Although they admit things for them could have been much worse, they are waiting for the lockdown to be lifted and either continue their travels or come back to the UK.
Abbey added: ‘We decided we wanted to travel long-term with Pebbles so we first did a test run in Europe to see how she coped.
‘When we got home after our trip, at the end of October she was depressed to be back at home – she absolutely loved travelling.
‘She was just sitting bored, she didn’t want to do the same route on our walk every day so I was taking her with the car to different places to keep her occupied.
‘She loves swimming, she loves going to the beach, she likes getting dog treats from strangers.
‘If we didn’t have Pebbles we would have left before they closed the borders, we would have got one of the last flights to Europe.
‘Ideally if we can, we’d like to keep travelling, maybe not the original route we had in mind- we are thinking of the West coast of Canada.
‘If travel changes significantly and we won’t be able to travel freely, we’d choose to go back home.’
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