Coronavirus Has Trapped a Bolivian Orchestra in a German Castle Surrounded by Wolves

It sure beats our band camp stories
Coronavirus Has Trapped a Bolivian Orchestra in a German Castle Surrounded by Wolves
While coronavirus-related tour cancellations have left many artists grounded at home, a Bolivian orchestral ensemble have been stranded inside a nearly 600 year-old German castle after having their own performance plans change.

As the BBC reports, the group of musicians — most of whom had never left the country before — landed in Germany on March 10. Three scheduled performances were soon called off due to the country's ban on social gatherings, and the orchestra soon found themselves unable to fly home in the wake of Bolivia's own border closures.

"Our bus broke down on the motorway. I remember joking that this was bad luck and perhaps our concerts would be cancelled," an orchestra member named Carlos told the broadcaster, "but never did I think it would actually happen."

For over 70 days, the orchestra has been holed up on the sprawling estate of the Rheinsberg Palace, a moated castle about an hour and a half's drive northwest of Berlin. The group have been living and rehearsing in a guest house on the estate and have been free to explore the castle grounds — which are also home to 23 packs of wolves.

"It's very different to my home, it's very beautiful," an orchestra member named Miguel offered. "There are worse places to be trapped. When I wake up, I watch the sun rise over the forest and the lake. Back home, I only hear the sound of traffic."

Rheinsberg Palace was once the home of Frederick the Great, and the group joke that his ghost wanders the estate. "We all joke that Frederick's ghost is following us and trying to trip us up," the orchestra's Camed Martela said. "I don't usually believe in such things but it does feel as if there are ghosts on the grounds."

The estate's kitchen staff have been preparing food for their unexpected guests from a safe distance, while the BBC notes a Bolivian expat in Berlin has donated clothing better suited for warmer weather. Those with family in Bolivia's main cities have been able to keep in touch, but some say there is also little sympathy from back home.

"People back home think we're in a fairytale land. I've had hundreds of messages telling me to stop complaining, and that I'm living like a princess in a German castle," Carlos said. "We feel abandoned."

While Germany is currently allowing international flights, Bolivia's borders remain closed. The Bolivian embassy told the BBC it is trying to secure a flight home for the orchestra in early June out of Madrid.