At the beginning of March, three of the World Tour riders; Arthur Guillebert, Val Garat and Louka Pitot, decided to take a trip to Los Roques for two weeks of training. The plan was to get ready for the first stop of the tour at Mondial du Vent. The riders invited Charles Tiger to join them on their trip; to document it, and hopefully get some action-packed footage for a movie.
“CUARENTENA” – Quarantine in Paradise
The trip started off well, although the constant temperature checks at the airport reminded us that even though we were off to disconnect from the world, we were still on the brink of a pandemic.
We arrived in Los Roques as planned at a new pousada called “Casa Play”. The first week was packed with tourists, and the general vibe was incredible. Our daily routine consisted of waking up early and deciding over breakfast which island we were going to spend the day at, without a care in the world! The wind was perfect, and the conditions were ideal for getting us back in shape and to start training properly. At the end of the day, we would head back to the pousada for a well-deserved dinner with everyone. All of a sudden, everything changed. On March 11th, they announced the global pandemic.
Numerous European countries closed their airports, borders, and went into full lockdown. We questioned whether we would be able to get home, but never did we think that Los Roques would be affected by the madness. A couple of days later, Venezuela announced that it was also going into lockdown, and closing Caracas airport as well as Venezuelan airspace.
Naturally, some people started to panic, particularly the tourists that were still on the island. Most of them were looking for options to get off the island as quick as possible, and they rushed to get on the last flights leaving from Caracas.
We paused for a second, weighing out our options and thought to ourselves; we’ll wait it out in Los Roques until we find a guaranteed flight to get home. There was no point in us rushing to Caracas airport just to get stranded with all the other tourists.
The Casa Play team welcomed us with open arms and told us that we could stay at the pousada as long as we needed to. They wanted us to feel comfortable and at home, and honestly, they were terrific hosts.
Within days, the lockdown was enforced, action to stop the spread of the virus was taken rapidly, and most of the locals were wearing masks. Then, four cases were announced on the archipelago, and you could feel the stress building in this little paradise people were lucky enough to call home. This was a wake-up call to the locals, and to us, that this virus could affect you, no matter where you are. It was essential to fight this pandemic together.
We became close friends with Katherine and Grillo, who managed the pousada. They are incredible people, and it is hard to put into words how blessed we were to have met them. We shared our quarantine with them, and it was our daily dose of laughs and good vibes.
At this point, nobody was allowed to enter or leave Los Roques. There was a boat that brought food supplies once a week, and that was it. We stayed in the pousada during the lockdown and minimised our contact with anyone on the island.
Eventually, we were able to get in touch with the French Embassy in Venezuela, and they were quick to inform us about the different options to get home.
The days all merged to one; we’ve all experienced it, so you know what I’m talking about! To keep busy, we went for a run in the morning, played cards during the day and did home workouts in the evening on the rooftop.
After two weeks in quarantine, the authorities tested the entire island, and they were free of COVID-19. The four cases were detected early, and they were sent straight away to Caracas to get the care they needed. Luckily, no one else was affected.
Twenty days later, the lockdown restrictions started to get more lenient on the island. We decided that this experience had to be included in the ‘action-packed’ original video plan, and that’s how the name “CUARENTENA” – Quarantine in Paradise came to mind.
We were fortunate enough to meet the governor of the island, who was constantly checking how we were and offered to help us if we needed anything. Later on, the French Embassy informed us that they had a flight scheduled on April 16th, a flight from Caracas to Madrid. Yes, we finally had a flight back.
Ten days until departure and yes, we got authorisation to go kiteboarding – you can’t even imagine how ecstatic we were!
We spent the last few days on the water and were able to finish our video “CUARENTENA”. The feeling of being back on the water after over 25 days of lockdown in the pousada was indescribable. Again, I’m sure this is a feeling everyone can relate to.
Believe it or not, it was hard to leave. We’d been surrounded by such great people, and we got attached to them. In times like these, you genuinely remember the true value of life, and what an impact friendship can have.
Our way back was a real mission, a real step to reality. First, it started with a military plane from Los Roques to Caracas. Then, a flight to Madrid. The flight was full, everyone was anxious but happy to be heading home. Everyone had masks and gloves on, and the mood was tense and agitated.
Madrid airport felt like a ghost town. We eventually boarded our flight to Paris, then to Marseille. We finally made it home, but the memories of Los Roques will be in our hearts forever.
Watch the FULL MOVIE below
By Louka PitotBorn and raised on the beautiful island of Mauritius, Louka Pitot moved to France 3 years ago to study and train. There, he met the french team, that are now his best friends. They travel around the globe all year long, looking for the best kite spots.
Featured in this Post