Blind Michigan woman goes missing on vacation in Peru: ‘Please help’

by Tresa Baldas

A legally blind social activist from Detroit has gone missing in Peru in a disappearance that has triggered an investigation by the  U.S. State Department and Peruvian police, with her family pleading for the public’s help in finding her.

According to her family and friends, Carla Valpeoz, a 35-year-old social worker and trailblazer for the visually impaired, has not been heard of since Dec. 12, when she was staying at the Pariwana Hostel in Cusco. She has missed her flights home, her phone has been off for days and investigators are looking into her credit card activity for clues as to her whereabouts.

Valpeoz, a worldwide traveler and author of Visionless Adventures, had gone to Peru with a friend for a wedding and had planned to stay two weeks in the country touring various sites. She spent the first six days of the trip in Lima with her friend, Alicia Steele, 32, of Detroit. The two were supposed to return to the U.S. on Dec. 15.

According to Steele, after the wedding, Valpeoz had planned to go to Machu Picchu, an ancient village built by the Incas and one of the most popular tourist sites of Peru. Steele said that her friend went alone on that trip and had plans to meet her back in Lima on Dec. 13.

On Dec. 11 at 11:47 p.m., Steele received a text message from her friend about her trip to Machu Picchu.

“I can’t wait to tell you all about it. It was absolutely worth 100%,” the text message read. “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 to have all of you come pick me up.”

But Valpeoz never showed up in Lima. She was supposed to arrive at 6:43 p.m. on a flight she had purchased on Orbitz.

Steele thought that her friend might have lost her phone, so she decided to just meet her at the airport on Dec. 15 for their return flight back to the U.S. Her friend had traveled the world, been to many countries. She presumed she was OK.

But Valpeoz never showed up for the return flight, either. Worried, Steele filed a missing persons report with the police and has stayed in Peru, looking for her friend.

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