A Bolivian orchestra group has been stranded in a German castle for 73 days after the countries closed their borders during the coronavirus pandemic.
The musicians, some of whom are as young as 17 years old, arrived in Germany for a spring concert tour just as the COVID-19 crisis was beginning, the BBC reports. However, their concerts were soon called off as Germany imposed a social gathering ban, and their flight back to Bolivia was canceled after the country closed its borders as a coronavirus precaution.
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Since then, the group has been staying safe at the Rheinsberg Palace, a 600-year-old castle located an hour and a half northwest of Berlin.
“Our bus broke down on the motorway. I remember joking that this was bad luck and perhaps our concerts would be cancelled. But never did I think it would actually happen,” said one member named Carlos.
The ancient estate was home to German royalty dating back to the 1500s, including Frederick the Great, who the group jokes is haunting the castle halls.
“We all joke that Frederick’s ghost is following us and trying to trip us up. I don’t usually believe in such things but it does feel as if there are ghosts on the grounds,” said Camed Martela, a 20-year-old member of the orchestra.
The castle grounds and surrounding woodland are also home to more than a dozen packs of wolves. One member, named Tracy Prado, said she saw three wolves while out for a walk.
“I froze in fear but they were just play fighting and moved on,” she said.
The nearby town of Rheinsberg has been mostly welcoming to the musicians, who socially distance themselves and remain on the castle grounds. The group stays at a guest house on the estate, which has a kitchen staff that drops off food for their unplanned guests. People have also donated clothes to the group during their longer-than-expected stay.
MaerzMusik, the festival at which the orchestra was going to perform, has helped raise funds for the group. Director Berno Odo told the BBC that the accommodation costs are as high as $38,400 a month.
Some of the musicians are still able to communicate with their family members back home, but they say their temporary lodging is far from a vacation.
“People back home think we’re in a fairytale land. I’ve had hundreds of messages telling me to stop complaining, and that I’m living like a princess in a German castle,” Carlos said. “We feel abandoned.”
The BBC reports that the Bolivian embassy hopes to get the orchestra on a flight back to the country in early June.
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