Honeymoon Nightmare Finally Ends for Toms River Bride
Melyssa Kluxen graduated from Toms River High School East. Her family still lives here and was beyond worried when Melyssa Kluxen's honeymoon turned into a nightmare after she and her new husband got stuck in Peru when covid19 led to a travel shutdown.
What started out as the happiest moment of Melyssa's life -- a destination wedding in Mexico with her family and friends -- turned into a quest to make it home.
After Melyssa and Charlie's beautiful ceremony, they left for their honeymoon in Peru. It wasn't until after they arrived at their Airbnb and settled in that the world started falling apart.
By the time they were alerted that Peru was shutting down the airports and travel in and out of the country, Melyssa Kluxon LaVerde and her husband couldn't secure a flight in time and found themselves stranded.
I was able to connect with Melyssa via Facebook and she gave me her brother's contact info so that I could get in touch with Baines in Toms River, where Melyssa grew up and where her family still lives.
After getting advice from U.S. Congressman Chris Smith's office, (who managed to get everyone from his district who was stranded overseas back home) we were able to help get Baines in touch with people who could help and advise Melyssa to help her get out.
With their Airbnb running out, Melyssa and Charlie had no choice but to head to the airport. But it was still a waiting game, with photos sent home showing hundreds of people lining up for standby flights out of Lima. There were some days with no planes leaving the ground at all. It seemed daunting and I can only imagine how scary this still is for the thousands of Americans still stranded in another country.
And then, while in constant contact with the U.S. Embassy, with a mix of persistence, patience, and external help, they got their miracle. Melyssa found out she was going to get on a flight....except that it was only her name on the original manifest and not her husband's. Charlie would have been stuck there for, at the very least, days more. But Melyssa fought for her husband and, finally, they both were able to get on a plane to Washington, D.C. yesterday.
Melyssa's brother, Baines Kluxen, wanted to share this message on behalf of the family:
"As far as our feelings, every day was riddled with anxiety. Our worries about Melyssa and Charlie being able to return safely home were only compounded by the risk of the ongoing pandemic. While they had safe hygiene practices, there are plenty of uncontrollable factors in any situation, and we all couldn't help but worry for our newlywed family. Unbelievable waves of relief washed over all of us when the news of her flight reached us, as it's been almost 20 days since this all started. I can only imagine the strife many other separated families are going through. We are all beside ourselves with happiness for our 'happy ending,' but I know this isn't the case for many and our hearts go out to them. May all who are separated from their loved ones be reunited soon, whatever may be keeping them apart."
Let this story serve as a learning experience for anyone who isn't well-versed with overseas travel:
-- Make sure you register with the STEP program (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) through the U.S. government before you travel overseas, which lets our country and foreign affairs department know where you are in case of a crisis so that they can contact you and get you out.
-- If you find yourself stranded in a foreign country, head to the biggest airport you can get to and ask to find a U.S. Embassy member who may be able to help you get a seat on a flight.
-- Contact your family and friends and have them reach out to their district congressman and the media to share your story and see who may be able to help you!
And to Melyssa and Charlie, what a story you now have to tell! Thank God you're home.