News 26 march — 12:00

American traveller stuck in Azerbaijan and doesn't want to return to USA

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BY INFORMATION SECTION

A New Jersey resident walking around the world for nearly five years has had his epic adventure stalled by the international coronavirus outbreak. Tom Turcich is hunkering down with his dog in Azerbaijan after Kazakhstan closed its borders, days after the country documented its first coronavirus case, Azeri Daily reports with reference to NJ.com.

Turcich, who was nearing the border on Tuesday, said that instead of crossing by ferry as planned, he will be walking about 50 miles to Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan.

Had Azerbaijan not granted a visa extension, Turcich said he might have had to catch a flight back home to New Jersey, where his journey began 18,500 miles ago.

“I’ll be stuck in Azerbaijan until the border of Kazakhstan opens again. Otherwise the day to day hasn’t been affected too greatly,” Turcich, 30, told NJ Advance Media via a Facebook message.

The border is not scheduled to reopen before April 15, he added.

Remarkably, until a few days ago he said the only impact on his journey was getting his hands sprayed with hand sanitizer whenever he entered a restaurant.

Then, on March 21, upon learning that Kazakhstan’s border had closed, he posted to his Facebook page that “the delicate balance that keeps this walk moving has fallen apart.”

“For the time being there’s nothing to do but keep walking,” he posted.

Three days later, Turcich was counting his blessings.

“These are strange times. I’m sure there are travelers stuck all over the globe. I’m just glad the migration office here understands the situation and made getting the visa extension a breeze," he posted.

"Georgia has yet to reopen their border, so if Azerbaijan hadn’t come through with this extension, Sav and I might be on a flight home. Instead, we’re finding starlit campsites and meeting boy shepherds and their donkeys.”

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