We can't help but be amused by this: The family and friends of "missing" backpackers Jamie Neal, 25, and Garrett Hand, 27, of Oakland are relieved to hear from the U.S. State Department that they are alive and well on a boat in the Amazon, and should be getting directly in touch soon. They had disappeared off of Facebook, you see, and everyone they knew totally panicked.
It's a new age, friends, wherein you are not allowed to go off the grid or take an undocumented vacation or, at least, that's not socially acceptable. But we empathize with the friends of Neal and Hand, who were used to cheerful, frequent updates from the pair, via Facebook, of their six-month cycling trek through deepest Peru. All of a sudden, those updates stopped, and presumably they weren't getting much cell signal, and this was cause for great concern.
According to officials in the Peruvian government, the couple was located but was not able to be in touch themselves until maybe later today. Hand's mother, Francine Fitzgerald of Concord, has not stopped sounding her own alarm bells, claiming she is not satisfied that they are okay and won't be "until my son gets off a plane at San Francisco Airport and steps into my arms."
We don't want to jump the gun, as it may be a bit out of character for these two to go four weeks without being touch, but there were likely extenuating circumstances.
According to the Peruvian officials, they were spotted "about five hours from Iquitos, Peru, in a village called Angoteros on the Napo River." Sounds pretty far off the grid.
This story is reminding us quite a bit of this story from last year, in which a certain 22-year-old twink disappeared into the arms of an attractive gentlemen he met on a "social media app" for several days, prompting his mother to call in the National Guard. So. Embarrassing.
Word to the wise: Call your damn mother.
Update: After the entire nation of Peru mobilized to locate them, Garrett Hand and Jamie Neal were a little bewildered by the sudden attention, but they are alive and well. Hand posted to Facebook, "I'm alive." And Neal wrote, "We've been traveling though the Amazon and the villages do not have electricity let alone internet or phones. We are now stuck on a military base in Pantoja, Peru...and everyone is interviewing us and taking photos...saying that we are now famous in Peru." [CC Times, ABC 7]