Visually Impaired Michigan Woman Vanishes While Vacationing in Peru: 'Please Come Back Safe to Us'
A visually impaired woman from Michigan has gone missing while vacationing in Peru.
Carla Valpeoz, 35, traveled to the South American country earlier this month for a friends wedding, The Detroit Free Press reports.
Instead of rushing back home to Detroit, Valpeoz, an experienced traveler and author of Visionless Adventures, decided to extend her stay to enjoy all that Peru has to offer.
Valpeoz reportedly spent the first six days of her trip in Lima with her friend Alicia Steele. Steele, 32, told The Detroit Free Press that after the wedding, Valpeoz planned a solo trip to Machu Picchu, also known as the Los City of the Incas. The two had planned to meet back up in Lima on Dec. 13, but Valpeoz never returned.
Steele says she received a text message from her friend on the night of Dec. 11, explaining how much fun she had while visiting the ancient attraction.
“I can’t wait to tell you all about it. It was absolutely worth [it] 100%,” the text message read, according to The Detroit Free Press.
“I’m coming in on Thursday afternoon so I will send you the details through email once I check in. It would be a wonderful welcoming [sic] to have all of you come pick me up.”
Valpeoz never emailed and has not been heard from since.
Being that this was not Valpeoz’s first trip abroad, Steele just assumed she missed her flight from Machu Picchu to Lima and that she would just see her at the airport for their return flight to the U.S.
However, when Valpeoz failed to show up for their return flight on Dec. 15, Steele filed a missing person report and stayed in Peru in hopes of locating her friend.
“We’ve been searching ever since,” Steele told the Free Press. “The last thing we heard is that a man who works at the entrance of Machu Picchu saw her. She was by herself on the 15th and was going to climb up Machu Picchu. She looked well and she looked good,” Steele told the newspaper.
The sighting on Valpeoz at Machu Picchu on the 15th came as quite the shock considering she would have already visited the Incan civilization by that time.
“This would have been after her flight back to Detroit,” Valpeoz’s brother Carlos told the Free Press. “She already did that. She spent the entire day there. Why would she have to go back.”
Carlos, who currently lives in New York, also opened up about his sister’s disappearance to Fox 2 Detroit saying, “Carla, I love you. Please come back safe to us.”
Carlos also told the news station his sister is an avid traveler, who started as a volunteer at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn in 2015. She was later brought on as a tour guide.
“She’s worked for Michigan United, Southwest Community in Detroit. She basically does work for the people,” Carlos continued to Fox 2.
In addition to being visually impaired, Carlos says his sister “uses a walking cane when she travels by herself.” He also says “she was having some difficulty getting into Machu Picchu based on her disability.”
Seeing that she was alone, Carlos explained to NBC News that a group of local tourist invited her into their group.
The group then spent the entire day together and even went out dancing at a club before returning to their hostel around 4 a.m. on Dec. 12.
Around 9:30 a.m. that same morning, a woman from the group noticed Valpeoz was gone as were all of her belongings.
A receptionist at the hostel claims she saw Valpeoz leave in a taxi.
Since then, friends and family of Valpeoz have not been able to reach her by cell phone and there has been no credit card usage on her account, Fox 2 reported.
Despite this, Valpeoz said it is her life’s mission to travel to different countries to experience how other cultures live, in hopes of unifying different communities.
In addition to Peru, Valpeoz has visited Egypt, Papua New Guinea and Yemen.
At this time her disappearance is still under investigation.