Rincon, Puerto Rico – Two Months After Hurricane Maria
Rincon was hit hard by Hurricane Maria and then Rincon fought back! I love where I live. Everyone in my neighborhood was working hard to make the roads passable from the moment it was safe to go outside. I was but a few swings of my axe into a tree before I was joined by a brigade of my neighbors. Everyone was happy to be alive and eager to make sure their friends and families were alright. If the Hurricane destroyed it, we fought to restore it. We are strong. That same mentality has persisted since the storm. The life in Nature led the way with many barren trees throwing out new leaves and shoots seemingly overnight. Though we are strong, we still have our limitations. The restoration and rebuilding phase will most likely continue for a while (possibly years). A lot of people want to know how Rincon is “actually” doing and whether or not it’s a good idea to come down for a visit this season. This post will attempt to give an accurate depiction of how Rincon is doing right now and whether or not visiting Rincon right now would be a good fit for you.
What Rincon Looks Like Two Months After Hurricane Maria
This is what everyone wants to know. Here’s some drive-around videos I was able to make with Meryl’s help to try and answer this question. You will see that we still have work to be done, but it’s not the zombie apocalypse the news would have you believe.
The Beaches of Rincon After Hurricane Maria as of November 2017
At first not all of the beaches in Rincon were accessible. Thanks to a lot of hard work, all of the main breaks are currently accessible and are still as beautiful as they ever were. Some seem more “open” since many trees have fallen and been removed, but so many new trees have grown new branches and leaves, it’s only a matter of time before no one will think twice. The public beach near town is still a bit messy but that is improving little by little as well.
The Roads in Rincon After Hurricane Maria as of November 2017
The roads are 10000% percent better than they were after the storm. Rincon really has been on the ball about this. However, the roads are still not without their hazards and not as “good” as they were before the storm. Be prepared for random delays as heavy machinery operates at random places clearing and transporting debris. Clean-up doesn’t just magically happen and you’ll often find yourself waiting for a bit to get to whatever destination you have. I drew the short straw on the way to autozone in Aguada one morning when the 115 had multiple stops while heavy machinery cleared some canals and ditches in both Rincon and Aguada. Once I made it to Aguada, I ran into a stop due to the arrival of FEMA supplies. In addition to the other problems of collapsed road areas and other road hazards the 5 mile trip from my house from Rincon to Aguada took 2.5 hrs. I have since traveled the same distance many other times since that day with no where near the same amount of wait time. The point is that you have to be prepared to be patient should the situation arise. Are the roads safe? Depends on your standards. At no point can you even for a split second stop paying attention to what you’re doing while driving. There are still holes in the road, trees sticking out into the road, low lying cables, power poles broken over, etc… so you must pay attention to what you’re doing. Everyone who has driven in Puerto Rico understands this concept already and as long as you stay vigilant you should be alright. Driving in Puerto Rico was already like playing a video game, it’s just at a more challenging level now and of course you only get one life. Be safe.
Gasoline and Food Availability in Rincon as of November 2017
Gasoline is available without a wait in all of Rincon. However, the ability to pay with credit card is often difficult. Some days you can, most days you can’t. Food is available at the Grocery stores without any more waiting than you would have experienced before the storm. At Econo, the selection of items can be limited and fresh fruits and vegetables can be harder to find. For these items, the outdoor fruit stands seem to be better stocked. Edward’s has had the most solid supply of canned goods pretty much throughout the whole event. Most restaurants in town are open and operational. Pools bar was open last time I surfed there this past weekend and Bohio and Calypso were open too. The little kiosks near the surfer statue in town have been open and everyone’s favorite pizza places were back up and running within a few days after the storm so there’s plenty of pizza – once again though, don’t expect a variety of toppings as most are limited to just cheese or pepperoni.
Can I pay with a credit card?
“No! Cash only!” That is the answer you will get 98% of the time no matter where you are or what you’re trying to pay for especially gas or food. ATM machines at banks are working and rarely have a line anymore. At first getting cash from the bank was a pain, but now things are much better! Just be prepared to pay for everything with cash unless you have somehow pre-purchased online with a credit card. Sometimes, some places will have their credit card machines working, but you can’t depend on that because it truly is random.
Cell Signal and Connectivity Frustration
Just because you had full signal and were able to make a voice call in one spot yesterday doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to do the same today. Just because you had working data on one carrier the day before at a specific time and place doesn’t mean you’ll have it in the same spot and time of day today. Seriously, this is VERY frustrating and will drive you mad if you actually need to get ahold of someone or really need to check your email. It’s also why it’s hard to upload the report each day even though i’ve gone to the beaches and taken pictures. It seems the random difficulties occur more frequently when you really need connectivity. In person communication is still the only way to not have your call dropped. Also note that all iDevices don’t like not being connected to the internet. Your iPhones and iPads will get mad at you and not work like normal while you’re down here. The iOS was designed around a fully functional 1st world – not the third world or disaster areas. Android phones don’t seem to care and are more versatile and function better on a general level.
Flying into San Juan
You will most likely have to fly into San Juan to come to Puerto Rico. It will be very difficult to rent a car and if you ARE able to get a vehicle it will be EXPENSIVE! One way around this is to the take the little plane from SJU to Mayaguez and then try to get a rental car over here on this side. I recommend the little plane no matter what since traffic in San Juan is far worse than it was before the storm. I hate it! https://www.capeair.com/ If Aguadilla airport (BQN) starts operating more normally, things may improve in this department. Things at SJU (San Juan) might improve as well. This is just what people have been encountering as of right now.
Power and Water Situation in Rincon after Hurricane Maria as of November 2017
Puntas still has no power or water. Several parts of Rincon have both power and water, but there are still many areas that have neither. The place where you’re staying may have a backup generator and cistern so it wouldn’t be that bad, but make sure you know if they do before you book your stay. Even if they do they might be on a regimen of run times. Some areas even get water a couple of days a week within a certain time-frame to be able to refill cisterns. Make sure you know this information ahead of time. Your other options is to just be prepared to not have power or water and not care. For the most part areas near town and areas on the 115 south of the old Econo should have power and water. I went to a place in Estella for an appointment the other day and they’ve had power and water for a while, but the whole area smelled very bad of raw sewage. This is something to consider if you were staying in Estella. I wouldn’t recommend drinking the tap water right now as some people have gotten sick from doing so. Drinking water is available for purchase at the grocery stores now (for a long time you couldn’t buy drinking water at the store). One vacation rental that was ready very early is the Casa Canal. They had everything cleaned up, minimal damage, commercial generator and kept running water from early on. They’re currently already back on grid power and city water. It’s walking distance to most of the open local businesses. http://www.casacanalpr.com
Is Rincon the right vacation spot for you right now?
Don’t get me wrong. Rincon NEEDS tourism because much of our economy depends on it. However, if you’re reading the above and your initial reaction is “Absolutely not!” then you’re better off somewhere else. If you can see past the inconveniences and respect the situation, Rincon still has a lot of island beauty to be safely enjoyed and plenty of waves. For most people who have been regulars over the years, things won’t be that different from “normal”. First timers might want to wait until more conveniences come back online unless you’re the adventurous type. For the later, it could be the trip of a lifetime and a chance to experience something really cool. If you’re not the adventurous type and absolutely need all the comforts and conveniences of the states, then PR probably wasn’t the right fit for you before the storm anyways, much less after it. I’ve tried to give the facts and give any useful parts of my opinion. Feel free to email me on the contact page and I’ll do a follow-up post if needed.
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