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“Faith Keeps You Standing”

How far would you go to see your parents? Flights are canceled around the world, so one man took a different route to get to his father in another country. 

Juan Manuel Ballestero, 47, originally from Argentina, was stranded in Portugal after flights were canceled into his home country. 

That meant he couldn’t reach his 90-year-old father who needed his help. Here’s where most people would panic, call the embassy, and try to find any flight that would take him. Not Juan, though. He took matters into his own hands. 

An avid sailor, Juan took his Ohlson 29 sailboat to the open sea, sailing for 85 days straight across the Atlantic until he reached Argentina. 

“I didn’t want to stay like a coward on an island where there were no cases,” Juan said. “I wanted to do everything possible to return home. The most important thing for me was to be with my family.”

Although Juan was raised around boats, his family still worried during his trek. For more than 50 days, they had no way of contacting him. 

Disaster almost struck on April 12 when authorities in Cape Verde, an island nation in the Atlantic Ocean, wouldn’t let him dock to refill his supplies. With less gas than expected, Juan continued his plight across the ocean to see his parents. 

“I wasn’t afraid, but I did have a lot of uncertainty,” Juan said. “It was very strange to sail in the middle of a pandemic with humanity teetering around me.”

Juan eventually did make it to Argentina where he was tested for the coronavirus before he was allowed to enter the country. After almost three months of traveling, he’s happy to be back on land. 

“Faith keeps you standing in these situations,” Juan said. “I learned about myself; this voyage gave me lots of humility.”

About the author


Jessie Harbin

Jessie lives in Meridianville with her husband, baby and four dogs. She thrives on chaos, and loves finding good news stories where you least expect them.

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