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Ashurst lawyer Sara Lane planned to take a year off work in 2020 to explore as much of South America as possible. COVID-19 ensured she got more adventure than she bargained for.
Photography: Emily Small

Sara Lane had been in Colombia for about five days in March when she found out the border was closing to foreign nationals. She works as a senior associate in Ashurst’s pro bono team, and had taken a leave of absence to travel after completing a master’s degree in international and community development at the end of last year. She could never have guessed, of course, what 2020 had in store.

“Coronavirus wasn’t a thing in South America until mid-March,” she tells LSJ. “It was becoming an issue in other parts of the world, but they had no reported cases, and then all of a sudden we were told at lunchtime that the border was closing.” 

She and her partner were in Guatape, a picturesque lakeside resort town in the Andes, and they made a snap decision to head to Chile, his home country.

Within two hours, they were on the first of three buses they needed to take to get to the airport and board a flight to Santiago. She had planned to stay for a while, until Qantas announced it was cancelling flights, and she had no choice but to rush home and try to figure out what she was going to do next.

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