March 15, 2020 was one of the busiest days of the season so far. SUP Tours, Kayak Tours, Surf Lessons, all stacked up back to back for the entire day with several reservations for the week to come. Suddenly everything changed. The first cases of coronavirus were confirmed and immediately PR entered a state of emergency. Later that evening the curfew went into effect and Puerto Rico was fully locked down in an effort to prevent a major outbreak on the island. Everyone was quarantined to their homes and all the beaches of Puerto Rico were empty. Rincon became a ghost town.
The first few days weren’t so bad. Chikako is an amazing chef and took the time to cook some of the most delicious food to be eaten during quarantine on the island. Santizing all our equipment became a priority as well. All of our equipment was thoroughly cleaned and we wanted to be prepared for whatever would come. On a personal level one of the biggest challenges was not being able to surf or paddleboard, or even go in the ocean for that matter. The lockdown was extremely strict. Anyone caught surfing could be arrested and or fined up to $5,000.
After about a month of quarantine with no end in sight, the financial stresses began to sink in. New safety measures implemented everywhere would make the very few but essential businesses that were actually open take much longer to visit. The whole island would have to adjust to this new way of life along with the rest of the world to protect our safety and everyone else’s.
On May 21, 2020 the governor of Puerto Rico finally announced that beaches would be open for surfing, paddleboarding, and active water sports as long as no one is hanging out on the coast. The new policy change would go into effect starting May 26, 2020. This was very, very welcome news and came as a surprise to many because the day before the governor voiced strong concerns against doing this. Apparently, the case made by the Department of Recreation was finally heard. We can now enjoy the ocean once again! The COVID-19 pandemic is definitely not over. But at least we can surf again! We do not know when we will be able to open again. There is still a lot that is uncertain right now. But some of the most important things will always remain the same. We will continue to let life’s difficulties only make us stronger, better, and wiser. Below is a picture of the palm tree we planted after Hurricane Maria in the grave of an older palm tree that was swept away in the storm. It grows bigger and bigger each as a reminder that life will always push forward no matter what the adversity. We are living through history in the making. Rincon Paddle Boards is still here, alive, and waiting patiently in quarantine along with everyone else in the world to get back work when it is finally safe enough to do so.