Author: hilcast

French Polynesia, Travel Journal, Part 2

French Polynesia, Travel Journal, Part 2

The flight into Rangiroa was stunning and unlike anything my companions had ever seen, of course I was also amazed because nature NEVER ceases to amaze me but I had seen similar views from the float plane when I visited Fiji, so though I WAS…

Protected: Pristine Palau, May 2022

Protected: Pristine Palau, May 2022

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French Polynesia – Travel Journal, Part 1

French Polynesia – Travel Journal, Part 1

This will be an 9 part journal series (maybe more).

Check back every 2 weeks or so for new French Polynesia journal entries.

I can’t believe I am ACTUALLY going to French Polynesia. To be honest, I had kinda placed French Polynesia on my list of places I will likely die before visiting. There are many reasons it felt so out of reach, none of which I feel compelled to share here.

The fact that it is during a global pandemic seems even more wild to me. We had to jump through many hoops to get here. Including getting random Covid tests every week to see if any of them would be returned to us within the SUPER SHORT turnaround time window we had. Only to realize, none of the places in our area would work and we would have to drive 2 hours away, 2 days before our flight for the Covid test that was required to boarded the plane. Proof of a negative Covid test within 48 hours of our flight was required to board the plane. To be honest, I am thankful for the rule. It made me feel safer knowing that every person on the plane was Covid free. 

We looked ridiculous on the plane. The face shields we wore were unbearable and made everything look like we were underwater.  Truth be told, we took them off once we got onto the plane, we couldn’t handle how bad they made our vision. 

Face covered, check! Hair covered, check! Hands covered, check!
Jolee took her gloves off because they were making her hands sweat and she promised she wouldn’t touch anything until after I cleaned it.
My friend Marina also joined us! So did her mom, who was seated in front of us and my other friend Rachael who was some rows behind us. PS, check out my epic forehead veins! ha ha hah They always pop out (literally) when I am straining, for example hauling a bunch of luggage and a backpack. lol

Anyway, we were off and 8 hours away from a place that I KNEW would take the prize of the most epic mother daughter trip that Jolee and I had ever been on together so far. Our friends who joined us also made the experience so much richer, they were a true joy.

Landing time!!! We arrived in the evening, so we weren’t able to see what Tahiti looked like from the sky yet. We would get to see it the next day though, when we left Tahiti for our long term island destination in French Polynesia.

When we arrived, we landed in Papeete, the place where ALL flights into French Polynesia land first. We made our way through customs, where we were each given a Covid-19 self test that we were required to perform and submit to our hotel host on the morning of day 4, tucked those away safely into our backpacks and then finally connected with our hotel host who drove us to her small, clean property located on a hillside.  To be honest, I didn’t invest too much into this accommodation choice because to me it was just a place to lay our heads for a night until we headed out to the place we really came for. I just needed it to be safe, clean and to have good reviews. This place met all of those expectations.

The next morning, we got dressed and made our way by foot to the Papeete market in search of breakfast and flower crowns. We made  wrong turn and ended up seeing way more of the urban areas than we bargained for but we eventually made it to the market after I pulled out my map. Note to self, maybe start with a map next time. ha ha

I was also on a major hunt to buy a baguette and FINALLY found one at this fancy little dessert shop. Ironically, its VERY difficult to find a place that will sell you JUST a French loaf in French Polynesia. You can find places on every corner that will sell you huge sandwiches made in the loaves but they wont sell you JUST the bread.

The market was loaded with vendor after vendor of GORGEOUS flowers and a whole side street was dedicated to flower crown vendors. It was overwhelming trying to pick our crowns but we finally did and they were PERFECT! They smelled AMAZING the ENTIRE trip, no joke.  They never lost their beautiful aroma. 

Flower crowns on our heads, we were now ready to make our way back to our hotel and be taken to the domestic airport, where we would board our plane to make our way to Rangiroa. A place literally like a natural aquarium and named the most beautiful and the richest site in the world by Jacques Cousteau. PS – He was right!!!

I had 2 accommodations lined up for us on Rangiroa. One small, cute and inexpensive, beach front accommodation and one luxurious overwater bungalow resort. I mean, we couldn’t go all the way to French Polynesia, the birth place of the overwater bungalow and NOT stay in an overwater bungalow.

Head over to part 2 to read about what happens next and check out our first accommodations on Rangiroa!  

29 ways YOU can show mama earth some love 💙

29 ways YOU can show mama earth some love 💙

Why is it important to reduce our carbon footprint? Where do I even begin? First, I will start with the fact that research shows that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could help prevent 300,000 – 700,000 premature deaths cause by air pollution by the year 2030.…

Protected: Morocco, November 2021

Protected: Morocco, November 2021

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Traveling During COVID19

Traveling During COVID19

So I did it, I travelled during a global pandemic. I had a yoga retreat scheduled and I wasn’t going to miss it since I had willing participants and the borders to the DR (Dominican Republic) had recently opened back up. PLUS, we were told that we were going to be the FIRST group of guests on the property since covid, so that was very reassuring.

How did I do it? What happened?

Well, I first started by getting a covid test myself about 1 week before leaving on my trip (I have done 48-72 hours pre flight for all travels since this first one). I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to be the a*$hole that was unknowingly spreading covid around the world because “I didn’t even feel sick”. As we all know, MOST cases are asymptomatic and I’ll be darned if I am going to be the reason that someones loved one dies! I got my results, NEGATIVE. Sweet!

Step 2. I obtained allll the protective gear. N95 mask, lots of disposable gloves (I found some eco friendly gloves that made me feel waaaayyyy better about using gloves), a couple of surgical hair covers, and two full body clothing covers. I wanted to make sure I had two full sets, one for each way. I also ordered face shield but they didn’t arrive in time. It’s ok.

I left my house, with my hair all tucked away into the protective cover and as soon as we got to eh airport I got all geared up! I had lysol spray (travel size) and disinfectant wipes in bulk in my personal item and utilized my Global entry pass to avoid the large gathering of people. I sprayed and/or wiped anything my bags had to touch and replaced gloves as needed. I also made sure to arrive with a full belly and hydrated, to avoid having to remove my mask during the flight. I mean, it doesn’t really make sense to go through ALL of this, just to ultimately expose myself while on the flight.

Step 3. Once I arrived to my accommodations, I immediately removed my clothing and put them inside a waterproof bag that I would not open again until I arrived home and immediately threw them straight into the washing machine. I disinfected the exterior of my bags and then hopped into the shower. PHEW! I did my best! PS – They took all of our temperatures upon arrival and gave us each a sanitizing kit. We were ALL good.

While we were in the DR, we were required to wear masks anytime we were in public, with the exception of when we were at our secluded treehouse village which is spread out massively or at the beach/swimming, which had ZERO other people on it as far as the eye could see. Not kidding. In populated areas though, always a mask.

On the return flight I did the same thing, I geared up when I left the Treehouse village. Then when I arrived home, I sprayed the heck out of my bags with lysol and left them in the garage, I removed my clothes and put them in a trash bag, which I would deal with the next morning and headed straight for the shower.

I immediately went into quarantine upon arriving home. Now this is where the tricky and obnoxious part came into play. Since I wasn’t sure I hadn’t picked up covid while traveling and abroad, I had to make sure I was protecting my family. I LITERALLY wore my mask all day every day, EXCEPT when I ate or taught yoga via Zoom. However, when I did the 2 before mentioned things, I would go outside as to not expose my family to covid, should I have picked it up during my time away and not be presenting symptoms. It was hard and painful, my face under the mask was raw but I did what I felt was the right thing to do. I even wore it when I showered and only removed it to wash my face. This is where all of my free diving breath holding techniques and Wim Hof Method breath work came in healthy 😂 I am able to hold my breath for 2+ minutes so it was easy to hold my breath while I washed my face, then put my mask back on. Winning! Ha ha ha

Step 4. I waited the suggested 72 hours post exposure to “build a detectable viral load” then went to the doctor and got retested. I waited 3 more days and I finally got my results. NEGATIVE! I can’t even explain to you how quickly I ripped that mask off my face when I got off the phone with that nurse. Hallelujah! * Note, since this post was written, it is now advised to wait 7-10 days for a detectable viral load, so that is how long I wait to get retested now. *

So yeah, That’s what I did and that’s why I did it.

Was it worth all the trouble? YES! Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! In fact, I am doing it again in November to my “Mystery Group Trip”. I would also like to note that I would do it exactly the same way I did it this time, except I’d also bring my face shield or protective eye gear that didn’t arrive in time for this trip. Is it excessive? Maybe, but I am not willing to risk spreading a disease that could kill people OR stop traveling now that borders are starting to open back up.

I would like to highlight that I am NOT promoting travel during a pandemic, ESPECIALLY if you are going to be careless and contribute to the spread of this nasty disease. Ultimately, you make your own choices and if you do choose to travel, I hope you are as careful as I was (or close to it) so we can finally rid ourselves of this awful plague.

Have you traveled since the pandemic hit? Feel free to share your thoughts and/or input in the comments below!

Oh and thank you for taking the time to read my post! 😌 🙏🏼

Protected: Egypt, April 2021

Protected: Egypt, April 2021

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Protected: Costa Rica February 2022

Protected: Costa Rica February 2022

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Protected: Tulum, Mexico – June 2021

Protected: Tulum, Mexico – June 2021

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Protected: Greece (Islands) – June 2022

Protected: Greece (Islands) – June 2022

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