When we were planning our trip to the Carribean, we were considering visiting Barbados or St. Lucia or any other nearby island, but the situation with COVID-19 brought too much uncertainty so we decided to stay “in France”, though overseas.
Getting to the French Overseas
To go to Martinique by plane, we needed to present negative COVID-19 test’s results which were not older than 72 hours before the flight. Luckily, after our campervan trip in France we spent several days in Germany and were able to take the test and obtain the results in time.
Flying was allowed in surgical masks only which were allowed to be taken off for the meal and drinks only. Moving through the cabin was wanted only when going to the bathroom. We were lucky that we had enough room before our seats, so our crawling baby could move a bit and not only sit in our lap.
Situation on the islands
In Martinique and Guadeloupe, in the supermarkets and places of attraction (the zoo, botanical garden, museums), everyone had to wear a mask and the cashiers were protected with a silicone glass. We also had to wear a mask during the ferry trips.
At some point, when the number of infections all over the world and especially in France started to rise drastically, we were worried if we were allowed to travel from Martinique to Guadeloupe (we had our flight back to Europe from there) at all due to the current situation. Indeed, we had a problem with the immigration officers…because of my passport/visa, as it was difficult to explain that I had a German residence permit which allows me to travel in almost all European countries. However, Martinique and Guadeloupe are the French overseas territories and thus have slightly different rules (I needed a stamp at departure from Paris, which I didn’t get for some reason). The police officers were checking my passport, rolling their eyes, shaking their heads and telephoning around…Long story short: I was allowed to travel. Yippie!
COVID-19 affected our travelling plans
Nevertheless, corona has affected our traveling plans several times while we were already on tour:
- Our flight from Paris to Berlin was cancelled and there were no further flights from the same airport on the same day. We had to fly one day later and to spend a day and a night in Paris (at that time it was a dark-red zone on the corona map).
- The ferry from Les Saintes to Pointe-a-Pitre was cancelled. Our hotel was already booked on Les Saintes, and there were no other ferries to PaP in the next seven days. We had to take a ferry to Basse Terre (which is the most southern part of the island) and hoped for good luck in getting to the capital. However, on Sunday there were no buses and a taxi would cost us a fortune. We were already ready to pay this money, but luckily one guy whom I approached in the parking lot agreed to take us to Pointe-a-Pitre. By the way, we took the last ferry from Martinique direction to Guadeloupe. Afterwards, there were no more ferries for unknown time.
- Our flight from Pointe-a-Pitre to Paris was cancelled, as two flights were combined and we flew three hours later on the same day. If we kept our initial flight from Paris to Berlin, we would have had a problem as because of the delay we would have missed it.
Taking a test in Berlin
On arrival in Berlin, we decided not to take the test directly at the airport as standing in line with a tired baby was not the best idea. We drove home and self-isolated. Four days later we still didn’t have any symptoms and went to the practice which offered COVID-19 tests. Taking the test was quick and easy, almost no line. It didn’t cost us anything as we returned from the COVID-19 red zone. We were hoping to go out as soon as the test results were there, but our hopes were broken. We waited for results, which turned out to be negative, for exactly one week instead of 48 hours. In total, unwillingly, we were 14 days in self-isolation, according to the German Health Authority’s requirement.
Knocked out by … dengue
During our trip, when we were asked if we were afraid of corona, we made a joke that we had more contact with mosquitoes than with people. I wrote this without knowing that in a couple of days I will be totally knocked out by dengue. Ironically, right? Though we were trying our best in applying anti mosquito liquids and not going out at dusk, that was obviously not enough. After the first night on Les Saintes (a small islands group which belongs to Guadeloupe), I felt muscle ache and thought it was usual pain after sleeping in a weird position while nursing. The ache was all over the body though, which was new. Besides, I started having headaches with pain behind the eyes and raising fiber. Long story short, my husband was trying on a role of a single father while I was lying in bed under a wet towel. I was even contemplating if I should call an emergency doctor, who would come either with a speed boat to the island, as I felt indeed very bad. I felt so sorry for Mia, who definitely felt that something was wrong and wanted my attention, which I could give her in very limited dosis. She cried and tried to climb up my body which made my head and body pain even worse. Thanks to my angel hubby, who went outside with her (remember, it was 35 degrees outside!), I could recover in peace.
Luckily, the next morning, the fiber dropped and I could resume my duties as a mother. We are going to take a ferry to the mainland, as if anything happens and I have deterioration, there is better medical support there than on an island.
Unfortunately, this story got its continuation. Two days I felt quite well, with slightly raised temperature and light headaches, I was able to keep up with my family. On day four, when we arrived on Marie-Galante (another island, which belongs to Guadeloupe), the second fiber and eye pain wave hit me. This is typical to the dengue disease progression, by the way. Forcedly, I spent a day in bed again. The next morning, we went to the local hospital to make tests and confirm dengue (who knows, who knows, the dengue symptoms are similar to covid). There, I was quickly admitted (luckily for me, there were not too many urgent patients waiting). While I was tested, I fainted. Low blood pressure, probably, and not enough liquids (dengue combined with breastfeeding dried me out). I had to stay for some hours at the hospital getting liquids intravenously (but not a drop of water was offered to me to drink, which was strange) and got dengue confirmed. Well, that was indeed bad luck, as statistically, it’s very improbable that dengue would hit you during your relatively short vacation. However, it hit me hard and precisely, so there was I, lying in hospital bed with a dropper in my arm, ice compress on my forehead (I bumped into something when I lost consciousness), without mobile net or internet, which made it impossible to let my husband know that I was okey and just needed some time to recover. This was a wonderful (not), but definitely memorable part of our trip. I hoped there would be no third wave (also not typical for the disease progression) and after another couple of says felt almost as fit as at the beginning of the trip. Now I even can laugh about it!