Stranded in the United States, the Swetman family has tried to make the best of a bad situation. Anita and Alan, along with their two children, Mark, 20, and Colin, 23, traveled to the US from Horscham, England for a family wedding in Pennsylvania. What was supposed to be a weeklong vacation has turned into a nearly two-week nightmare.
Since the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano on April 14, 95,000 flights around the world have been canceled including the Swetman's plane home.
"We are some of the lucky ones," said Alan. "Some people had to wait it out in airports and hotels. We had the means to rent a car and have a place to stay."
The Swetmans were given Hoosier hospitality by Greencastle resident Anne Phipps. Anne's daughter, Becky Barham, met Alan when she took part in the People to People program at the age of 16 and traveled to many destinations including Europe.
"In 1972, Becky came to stay with my family and we have kept in touch ever since," explained Alan.
Alan's first trip to the U.S. was in 1975, when he and his family stayed in Indianapolis and he returned again in 1994 with his wife and kids. Since then, he has made several trips to the U.S., but mostly for business or to run a marathon -- which he was supposed to do back home on Sunday.
This trip to the U.S., however, has been much different from all the others. The Associated Press reported on Tuesday London's airports were still closed due to the lingering volcanic ash; a massive flight backlog was growing; and scientist feared history could repeat itself with yet another volcanic eruption in Iceland.
Through it all, the Swetman family has remained positive even though Alan and Anita had to take additional time off from work, Mark, a third year student at Coventry University in England, has missed study time for his upcoming finals and Colin has missed out on fundraising events for Help for Heroes, a charity for soldiers returning from Afghanistan that he supports.
When Colin returns to the area in June, he and a friend will be bicycling their way across the U.S. and along the "Old National Road," as part of Hope for Heroes.
While in Indiana, the family will visit Indianapolis and spend time with their longtime friend Becky. They will depart from Greencastle tomorrow in hopes of getting a flight home.
"We were due to fly out on the 15th, but now it's going to be the 25th," said Alan. "We looked for other ways home, but there were none."
The Swetmans extended a great-big thank you to Anne for putting them up in her abode at the last minute.