An American tourist who broke his leg and had to spend more than three weeks in a Tauranga motel as the coronavirus pandemic began sweeping the world is hoping he can soon return home.
Las Vegas man Mitchell Greif spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times from his room on the eve of his departure back to the United States but canned domestic flights on Sunday to Auckland curtailed those plans and have left him ''gutted''.
''I am hanging in there,'' he said yesterday ''but it's a mess''.
An optimist by nature Greif said the whole ordeal was ''wearing me out''.
Now his hopes were pinned on an air ambulance ride to Auckland on Thursday or a shuttle - as essential workers could only fly domestically - to get on an international flight.
The 61-year-old, who had been holidaying with his wife Susan, said the unfolding drama and his accident happened while he was trying to capture the perfect photo on March 9.
He had disembarked off the cruise ship Celebrity Solstice and the couple made their way to a popular Mount Maunganui park where they spotted ''the most beautiful tree''.
Greif stood on a hill while Susan posed for the stunning snapshot among the branches.
But all of a sudden he slipped on the grass and took a tumble like ''humpty dumpty'' and ended up with a busted tibia which required surgery.
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''My leg is broken from the front all the way up to my kneecap. Now have a plate, rod and pins in it.''
The care he received from concerned locals who ran to his rescue and bought him ice packs alongside the ambulance officers was ''amazing'', he said.
Greif has been staying at the 850 Cameron Road Motel since the accident and still can't put any weight on his leg.
''I have to hop around on one leg and Susan has been pushing me to the hospital in a wheelchair.''
The unfolding Covid-19 pandemic had been ''a real surreal and bizarre situation''.
The ''world has changed'' and being halfway around the globe from their two daughters and four grandchildren was hard.
The Greifs had also been unable to get hold of any face masks or hand sanitiser for their long journey home so ''we're kind of freaking out about getting on the planes and going through airports''.
The pair will also have to spend a further 14 days in isolation when they hit land in the USA and both are desperate to see their love ones again.
But Greif spoke highly of motel owners Tony and Tina Bullot who had been ''phenomenal'' and the cruise ship company that had organised their care.
850 Cameron Motel owner Tony Bullot said it had been a pleasure to help them out and welcome them back again on Sunday afternoon.
''They're lovely people and it's an unusual situation. They were on a cruise which, you know they took the cruise at a time when taking cruises was absolutely appropriate.
''They got stuck and unable to travel through medical orders ... and it's been even longer delayed just trying to sort out transport after Mitch was deemed medically fit.''