A once-in-a lifetime study experience happening at the same time as a once-in-a-lifetime viral outbreak is sure to make uncertainty the only guarantee. My earlier blog mentioned some of the Covid precautions we took before the trip, but to quickly recap: The government required a negative PCR Covid test no older than 3 days at the time of departure, as well as proof that you’ve booked an appointment to take an antigen test 3 days into your stay. Before you leave the island, there is another antigen test to take to show you didn’t contract the disease during your stay.
Going into the trip, we didn’t have a crystal-clear picture of what the lock down conditions were going to be. Curacao was on the trailing end of a spike in cases, so the current conditions were strict. There were only certain days that people could drive, and those trips could only be to essential places like the grocery store. This would prevent us from diving at any sites that weren’t directly in front of our research station. Luckily, the lock down lifted some of its restrictions just a few days into our stay. Driving was now unrestricted, but whether beaches were closed or not was still not very well known. There was more than one destination where either we elected not to dive because of how many people there were, or because local police approached us and said that the area was still closed to the public. The city and most stores remained open, which made everything a lot easier. I think, for as serious as we were taking the pandemic, it didn’t hinder my experience as much as we thought.