Friday, January 13, 2006

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Happy BDay to my brother-in-law E!!

Welcome to 30!!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

More Random Thoughts

I’ve been giving you in depth thoughts on everything from what we ate and drank (mmmmm rum) to what we saw and even what we drove. But there are things we experienced in Mauritius that don’t fall quite so neatly into a category or even a normal blog. So I’ve decided that it was time for another random blog to explain some of the weirdness.

Please note in advance that basically every paragraph is a new story and there is little to no continuity involved here other than that they are all about Typ0 and her Hubby and Mauritius.

I’ve got to start with “Teri Garr Chick” as we dubbed her. Teri Garr was this middle-aged woman who seemed to think that she was 23 and had a body that rivaled JLo’s. She wasn’t and she didn’t. Teri could, at any point in any day, be found lying on a lounge chair by the pool topless. I am not a prude but this was a scary sight by anybody’s standards. He... I mean she, had small saggy breasts that just didn’t need to be shared with the world on an annual let alone daily basis. (Hubby wanted to interject that they weren’t saggy just leathery from too much sun. He should know; he was looking often enough!) Plus she smoked which only served to make her look even less attractive. The worst of Teri’s crimes: she and her lapdog of a husband took our table one night for dinner. Grrrrrrrrrr.

One of the things Hubby and I always judge when we go to dinner or are wandering around a mall or the like is the soundtrack. What music an establishment is playing while I share oxygen with the other inhabitants of that space happens to be very important. Pizza Place, for example, always played great music. Our hotel’s selection was rather erratic and occasionally moved in favor of really bad 90’s music rather than sticking to the good Sega Remix that it did so well. The one crime the entire island nation shared was an obsession with Celine Dion. Every-freaking-where we went they were playing Ms. Dion’s music in either English or French. It was enough to drive a body nutty.

The height of unfairness happened during our second week in Mauritius; I got a sunburn and Mr. Pasty White didn’t even get pink. Life, like so many things around me, is unfair. After a day spent in the sun with, what turned out to be not enough SPF 60, I returned to the hotel with a red back, red arms, pinkish legs, a red face and parts of me we don’t discuss in blog were also rather pinkish. Ok, so I didn’t use any sunscreen until around 1 in the afternoon that is no reason for nature to punish me. Is it? Of course, good genes (and what Hubby called unfair) came to my savior early the next day as I woke to find that my face, arms and legs were all now a rather happy shade of tan. See, sometimes life can be fair. That reminds me, my molting back is itchy again… Hubby!!!

We all know about my obsession with food in general and with the sweet treat from India known as Jelabi. Well on this trip I learned where Jelabi come from: the Jelabi tree!! (Hubby says that I’m wrong on this one but look at it!)

Ok more to come later…. Seriously though, we hope you’re having as much fun reliving Mauritius with us here in the Blog as we are. And if you’re not… *sniff* Well, there’s only a few more days to tell you about then we’ll get back to the usual blogs about Delhi and our lives here.

I Am Not the Only Hater

Although there is more news from Mauritius yet to come, I thought I'd give you a brief break from travelling and blog about something we all know and love: my dislike of Becker!

I get a lot of flack from Hubby about the repeated haterations on Becker in this Blog. I actually watched an episode of this program once and can honestly say that if I never have to watch it again I’ll be a very happy Typ0. Our new habit when this horrible half hour of “New to Me” TV is on is to watch either South Park or Chappelle Show on DVD. It was while watching the former that I came to realize that I wasn’t alone: I was part of a community of Becker-Haters.

We were watching the “Future Self” episode from season 6 when the following exchange occurred on the show: (all dialogue copyrighted by South Park and courtesy of this page.)

Stan: Four months?? And you never told anybody that you were living with yourself in the future??
Butters: Nobody asked.
Stan: Where is he now?
Butters: Probably watching Becker.

[Butters' house, afternoon. A future Butters is watching TV and eating chips at the sofa]
Becker: My name is T. Becker. The T stands for Terrific. [laughs. Future Butters finds this quite funny. Stan and Butters enter the house to meet future Butters.]
Butters: See, here he is. Future Butters. Future self, this is my good friend.

See!! Much like Raymond, nobody likes or watches Becker… At least not willingly.

Another Day in Paradise (Part 3)

Ok we have now reached the part of our perfect day that turned out to be slightly less than perfect. In fact it left me pretty much wishing I knew how to fly or glide or get anywhere without needing my feet. After almost being dumped into the water by the speedboat guy, he dropped us off at Ile Aux Cerfs for what was supposed to be an hour of chill time. The island was filled with partiers who wanted to do nothing more than drink and soak in the warm water.

We waded through the warm water from one end of the beach to the other. The tropical water was the same “just right” warm temperature as a newly drawn bath. Warm but then you get used to it and it transforms into lukewarm without your consent. (My apologies and thanks to Colin and Penelope for borrowing their descriptions.)

We laughed when we found cooler spots of water and stood for a moment in them to relish the difference. No frigid North Atlantic waters were these, we remarked as we plunked ourselves down to sit in the warmth of the water as it lapped upward every time a speedboat passed by.

After a while, Hubby decided that we should go up on the beach to look around. Now do you remember what we brought with us when we left the catamaran to go parasailing? (Go scroll up, I’ll wait.) Now the more apt question should be: what didn’t we bring. Exactly: our sandals.

We walked up the beach to a chorus of “Hot! Hot! Bloody effing hot!” as we searched out sand that was still in the shade and therefore cooler. Around the time we found a cool spot to stand, Hubby had another brilliant idea: let’s walk up the stone stairs to the covered bar area on the top of the hill. Now at first glance this would seem to be a good idea – but let me assure you that it wasn’t.

The surface of those stone stairs wasn’t as smooth as one might hope. They were, in retrospect, what appeared to be chunks of coral reef. Each chunk seemed designed especially for two things:
1. To retain heat and burn the bottoms of my already tender feet.
2. To cut open the bottoms of those tender, now burned feet.
By the time I ascended to our seating area in the closed café my feet were so sincerely sore I could barely walk.

I’m sure that in his guest blog Hubby will refute some of the following statements about what transpired next. But this is my version and I’m sticking to it.

Realizing that we had to return to the jetty for pickup, we began the 1 mile walk across more coral hot rocks, steaming hot sand and coral remnant line sand. I’ll admit that I whined a tiny little bit while we crossed these hazards but I was in serious pain! By the time we arrived at the jetty I literally could go no further.

When the boat arrived, Hubby battled with the skipper for my shoes so that I could have covered feet for the final 10 feet of my walk – this time across wickedly hot concrete. The only bright spot for me was the realization that we weren’t the only ones in this predicament. None of the other parasailers had brought shoes and several of the wives mentioned that their husbands hadn’t been as kind as Hubby. (Of course none of their husbands had the inspirational idea to walk across jagged hot stones either but I’m not going to go there.)

So how bad were my feet? By the time we were dropped off for the day I couldn’t even walk across the sand to get to the taxi without the slight cushioning of my shoes for the pain. Typ0 = wimp.

But let it be known that as a while the day seriously ROCKED. My sunburn turned into a tan and my feet were better by the next day. Parasailing was seriously wicked fun. And crossing the sapphire blue waters off the coat of Ile des Cerfs was amazingly romantic. And doing all that with the goofy boy you kind of, sort of like was pretty cool too.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Another Day in Paradise (Part 2)

As promised there was a really wickedly cool part of the day yet to come… And a wickedly sucky part of the day. I have decided to start with the awesome part first – it doesn’t hurt that it also happened first chronologically speaking.

After lunch we were told that if we wanted to there was an opportunity to go parasailing. Now Hubby and I had actually discussed this very idea less than a day before this particular outing; so it seemed rather odd (and cool) that we were being given this opportunity. So we gathered the details: it wasn’t going to be too pricey, it fell into our scheduled free time, and we could do it in tandem. After a brief powwow we grabbed our towels, sunscreen and camera and piled into the motorboat.

Our speedboat driver was certifiably insane. I seriously wonder if he got paid more if he dumped one or more of us out of the boat prior to arriving at the floating dock. He seriously had the boat vertical with Hubby, me and the other 3 couples screaming in glee and hanging on for dear life. In case I forget to mention it later: he did the same thing on the return trip.

Parasailing took flight off a floating dock situated right of Ile aux Cerfs. At my request we did not go first. When it was finally our turn we were strapped into our individual harnesses and life jackets. As with the other couples from our boat, we opted to go together in tandem for this adventure. The team before us touched down lightly and we were urged forward. Hubby, as the taller of we two, was strapped in behind me. After a few very brief instructions we saw them give the OK sign to the boat driver.

To start off, I was sitting in prep for takeoff in what must have been the wrong way because I ripped my foot along the carpeted runway at takeoff. Picture rope burn: now move it to your foot and that was me. After that bumpy start we were aloft, at least 100 feet in the air with only a parachute and a piece of rope keeping us from falling to our doom. All that said, it was exhilarating, not to mention quite romantic – the two of us alone in the sky with only each other for company. Perfection.

With my hands grasping the harness above me, I was essentially sitting/dangling between Hubby’s legs, as we looked down on Ile aux Cerfs and its surrounding lagoon. Each shade of blue water seemed somehow more vibrant from our lofty vantage point. We waved at the miniature people on the dock and wished that our ride could last forever.

Then suddenly it was as if the boat driver got tired or bored or something. Below us he cut his engines and we began to float down toward the warm coral lined waters beneath us. When we reached the rather worrisome height of about 10 feet the driver woke up and pulled away. Squealing with delight we touched down briefly enough to soak our legs and bottoms and then we were quickly flying high again.

Of course we had to land sometime… unfortunately. Ours was not only not the smoothest landing of the day; I would venture it to guess it was one of the worst ever. Ooops! The bruise on my thigh is a reminder that next time we should ask for landing instructions before actually coming in for a landing butt first.

I officially and thoroughly recommend parasailing to you if you should ever get the chance. It was a thrill that we hadn’t planned on and one of the true highlights of our entire trip to Mauritius. be continued again...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Another Day in Paradise (Part 1)

I should begin by explaining that I literally have almost ten pages of notes just on what we did on the Tuesday we were there. With that in mind, I’ve decided to split this one up over a couple of days so as not to kill blogger with my squeals about how absolutely awesome a day we had. How awesome? Well you’re going to have to read to find that out but let’s just say that this is the day when I get sunburned, have the adventure of a life time, and had my the bottoms of my feet flayed. Cool, huh?!

The day started with us getting picked up at our hotel in a taxi for what turned out to be an hour and half long drive to the other side of the island. Do any of my Canuckian readers remember that show on TVO with the mime and the French voice-over dude? I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called but I do remember that I hated it. (Naturally, TV addict I am, I still watched it though. Expect a future blog about the coolness of TVO back in the day.) The reason I didn’t like it was that the voice-over dude had this weird accent that gave me the creeps. Well I have now realized that the voice-over dude must have been Mauritian because our taxi driver sounded *exactly* like my memory of this show.

The ride to Trou D’Eau Douce was long but uneventful. When we finally arrived we saw a bay filled with various sized boats: all, it turned out, there for the same purpose: day trippers like Hubby and I. Our boat was a medium sized catamaran crewed by the skipper (and his daughter) and three crewmen who helped keep us fed, watered, and kept the sails aloft as needed. I should note that “us” consisted of Hubby and I and about 20 other guests including a leathery old woman that should not have been wearing a bikini but probably should have been wearing some sunscreen. There were also several families and a couple of honeymooners along for the ride.

We sailed into the perfect blue of the bay and around the craggy reef in water shallow and clear that I could see the bottom. Hubby kept me from trying to touch it by threatening my book. Evil boy.

One of our first stops was a cool little waterfall. (No I am *not* obsessed.) They took us right under the falls in the little motorboat that had been attached to the catamaran with some rope. The cool water from the Falls was refreshing after the heat and had everybody in the boat giggling and covering their cameras for dear life.

I spent much of my time getting some sun and reading my book. It was an incredibly good book that I simply could not put down until I had finished it. Of course, I probably should have started the day by using sunscreen instead of waiting until after lunch to apply my first coat. Oops, my bad!

Before lunch we snorkeled off the back of the boat and I tried to consume as much salt water as I could in as short amount a time as possible. I wasn’t all that good at snorkeling although Hubby, as always, proved a great gun and stayed in the water for quite a while. (It turns out that this isn't actually a photo of Hubby just some random guy. But at least you'll get the idea of what we did... or something.)

Lunch was a relaxing affair consisting of fish that was cooked on a grill off the back of the boat. The fish was amazingly tender and flaky yet still tasted sweetly of the coal and fire. This was accompanied by saffron rice, potato salad, break and wine which turned out to be slightly too sweet for my taste. The meal was topped off with slices of coconut and bananas for dessert. Light and yummy all around.

After lunch we got started on what turned out to be both the highlight and lowlight of the day. But those will have to wait for the next episodes of Blog.

… to be continued...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Cool Dip in the Ocean

We awoke the day after Christmas to realize that too much rum doesn’t hurt that much when you have fresh crepes and hot chocolate (coffee for Hubby) to soothe you when you wake up. Since we had definite plans for the day, Hubby was not going to let me sit around reading my new book, “Outlander” no matter how much I pouted. (Dang, this is a good book! Thanks Aunt B!)

After I graciously gave into Hubby’s desire to do touristy stuff, we piled into the car. Our first stop was the “Sugar Adventure” in Pamplemouses. Despite signs that boasted that they were open 7 days a week, the evil sugar adventurers were closed. Damn false advertising. (Their excuse that it was the day after Christmas was not a very good one, if you ask me.)

Dejected, we headed over to the nature walk in Pamplemouses proper. Ok, a moment of interjection if you please. I love grapefruits either in their halved form with a sprinkling of sugar, in sections for breakfast or better yet in juice form. So the thought of going to a town named after these yummy fruit sounded very cool. That said they didn’t even give away free Pamplemouses at the door. *pout* Again with the more false advertising.

But we had a walk to do so we parked the car, slathered on sunscreen and wandered into the nature preserve. The coolest part of our nature walk was getting to see where Kermit the Frog lives: these wickedly cool giant lily pads that come in both pink and green apartment options. We also saw where Kermie goes to romance Piggy when she’s in town: the tiny lily pads probably wouldn’t hold her but I’m guessing that she likes the flowers in this pond.

In keeping with my new obsession with waterfalls, we saw another cool one. From the top of the bridge it looked like a tropic forest. You looked into the oblivion of nature in every direction.

When we wandered down the path to the bottom of the waterfall it had a wondrously different view entirely. It was like the door to fairyland had opened and was giving us an achingly brief peek into its enchantment. I swear that I saw some sort of ethereal creature fly by and wave at me. (Of course I was very hot and we had run out of water so it *may* have been a hallucination. Maybe.)

The overall effect of the entire preserve, other than being wickedly hot, was one of peacefulness. There were beautiful tropical flowers and tiny multicolored birds in every direction. I wish I could share all the photos we took so that you could share, electronically, the beauty we witnessed in Grapefruit-land.

After our walk we headed to Grand Baie and, since this is me we’re talking about, to lunch at Spur, a South African chain we remembered from our previous trip to that wonderful country. In typical Typ0 fashion I had a cheeseburger while Hubby munched on fajitas. Some things, no matter how tasty, never change.

From there we made our way to our big destination of the day – the Under Sea Walk. First we had to meet our water taxi at a jetty not far from our lunch spot. And we waited. And waited. And waited. The other people who had signed up for our time were quite late and, as we watched them on the shore, had no intentions of hurrying themselves. The boat driver and I exchanged (in French) pleasantries and insults about the lateness of the other guests to pass the time.

The French chatting turned out to be a good thing as he shared our confab with his cohorts aboard the main boat and they made sure that we stayed underwater the longest and, in think, had the most fun. Yay French immersion!

Unfortunately we have no pictures from our digital camera of our time under the sea so you’ll have to use your imagination. We do have regular photos that the tour operators took but we still haven’t had them developed. As we listened to the dive instructions we donned our swimsuits, ocean shoes and a weight belt: the latter two were provided by the he boat operators.

We then descended the ladder at the stern of the boat. Once we were mostly immersed, they put these glass and steel helmets over our heads and settled them on our shoulders. The helmets were glass above and 360 so that we could see the beauty of the ocean’s depths (all 3 feet down of it) in all directions. The helmets weren’t secured and we occasionally felt the helmet filling with salt water.

(Quick note, the photo to the right was taken at Pamplemouses and not on the Under Sea Walk but Hubby and I felt that it needed to be included. Naughty giant turtles! You go boy!)

The fish we saw the most of was this cute little black and white fish that Hubby kept trying to capture by the tail. Thankfully he was unsuccessful. We also saw little Nemo fish and other tiny clown fish living in a bit of coral near our dive spot. In total we were under the water for just over 30 minutes.

I must say that it was a wickedly cool experience despite the salt water in my hair. But having the chance to breathe, swim and dance under the ocean was a priceless opportunity.

Nature at Her Best

The time had come, the walrus said, to talk of many things: of sight seeing and souvenir buying, of cabbages and kings. Or something like that. (BTW, bonus points to those smarties among you who actually know where my slightly bastardized quote comes from.) Well, the walrus had a point: we needed to stop drinking long enough that he would stop talking to us, and we really did need to get to seeing this island before it was too late and the rum monster came to take us prisoner again.

We piled into our crappy car and headed off into the wilderness. Now, I need to explain that our car was slightly crappy despite the fact that Hubby is an awesome driver on the stick. Here’s the low-down (which he will, I’m sure go into in more detail in a guest blog): basically the Malaysian POS, Proton Wira for the curious, came with three options: Drive, Use the AC or Listen to the Radio. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to do any of these things at the same time without the car conking out on us. We met our goal of seeing ½ the island in 2 days but the car was a big chunk of the adventure.

One of our first stops was this Chamarel Falls. If you’ve ever heard me talk about Niagara Falls then you’ll know that I’m a huge person for water falling over rocks. *yawn* Niagara Falls can only be described as majestic during the height of its tourist season. (I, on the other hand prefer it during its frozen, iceberg time in February). Chamarel isn’t majestic; it’s certainly not in the running to help the island create hydro electricity, what with its three small steams of water. All that said - it was beautiful.

We had to walk up a small incline to get to the viewing plateau. The first thing I noticed was that there was beautiful forest all around with hundreds of beautiful trees just waiting to be climbed. Then I turned and saw the falls from across the distance of the vividly green valley. At the top was a shallow river that looked like somebody should be skipping rocks. Then it broke off into three steams that fell 83 meters straight down into what seemed to be a movie set of a valley.

I can’t really explain why this place impressed me so much except to say that it was incredibly peaceful in its existence. It didn’t want to be Victoria Falls it just wanted to feed water into depths of forest that surrounded it. It was so peaceful standing there watching the Falls with Hubby’s arms around me. I found a point of serenity at Chamarel: a chapel of nature if you will. Life was at peace with itself in that tiny corner of the planet.

Only a short distance from the Falls was a Chamarel Colored Earths and, more importantly, the turtles. Allow me to explain the mundane first: these sands are naturally colored for reasons that have something to do with lava and its cooling effects. The sands really were cool and ranged in color from vibrant purple to dusky orange. (Sadly not all the colors show up to their best ability in our photos, sorry.) They sell bottles of the sand for a slightly more than nominal fee so that you can take home this amazing wonder. Here is the actually cool part: you can mix up your bottle by shaking it like martini, but the sands will automatically rearrange themselves back in order. Freaky deaky huh?

And now for what I thought was the cooler part of this stop: the Turtles! For reasons that nobody shared with us, the Colored Earths site was home to four gigantic turtles who hung out in a shaded pen. When we were there one of the turtles was active while the others looked like they were embarrassed to be there. Hubby said they were embarrassed of the way I was going on (they *could* be mutant ninja turtles!) but I think they just wanted the option of wandering over to the sands and putting their shell prints in the purples parts. Either way they were sooooooooo cute and despite what Hubby things, probably would have been happy to come home with us.

Before I sign off this episode of Blog, I need to further expound on how beautiful this island can be. You see, in order to get to Chamarel, we had to drive up one of the many mountains that dot the landscape. Fear of the car dying on us half way up not withstanding, it was a beautiful drive. I swear to you that I have before seen quite so many shades of green in one place. Each tree on the mountain was a different variation on the jade theme. The Green Island indeed…

Hubby and I have traveled all over and rarely have we both been in agreement about how singularly beautiful a place was. I now finally understand why Hubby says that this is one of his top three favorite nations. Of course he came to that conclusion when he was there on vacation with out me… Hmmm….

Monday, January 02, 2006

Dreaming of Figgy Pudding

I have many firm beliefs about Christmas. But one that is pivotal is that it requires snow. “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” isn’t just a song people it’s a way of life. Hubby on the other hand, grew up in California and never knew snow until much later in life. It is with these two divergent views of the holiday season that Hubby and I arrived in paradise. But one thing we both agree on is that Christmas-time is about food: lots of great food! With that in mind, today’s blog is all about FOOD!

Christmas Eve we did fun touristy stuff that I’ll talk about later but more importantly we ate some very yummy food. After touring around the southern part of the island, Hubby drove us to this Creole place that he had been to during his last visit. . Keep in mind that Creole food here isn’t what you get back in the States – it’s more of a mixture of Indian and island cuisines. I feel that I should also explain that the while the ambiance was great (an outdoor terrace surrounded by tropical greenery) the food was divine.

After a nice salad, accompanied by a glass of rum punch, they served our lunches. I had a shrimp and chicken curry that was so light yet flavorful that I wanted to order seconds after trying only a few bites. For dessert we shared Banana Flambé that could never, ever be served to minors. There was so much rum in and around those bananas that I’m not sure that Hubby should have driven home. Dang that was good dessert. (Yes, Hubby also ordered food but since mine was better so that’s all that I remember.)

We eventually made it back to our hotel and got ready for dinner. Dressed in one of my silk salawar-kameez and the necklace Hubby gave me for Christmas I accompanied Himself down to the dining area that had been decorated for the occasion. We plunked ourselves down in our usual seats and asked the waiter to open the bottle of Argentinean red wine that we had purchased in the Dubai duty free for just this purpose.

After a while we started looking around to see what would be served at the buffet this evening. We were both amazed at the plethora of food that awaited us, but especially at the literal mountain of giant prawns sitting next to the grill. While I first readied a plate of salads Hubby made a beeline straight for the prawns. Noticing that the line for these mammoth delicacies was huge, I wisely asked Hubby to grab one for me.

Much of the food we had over the two weeks at the hotel was rather average to below average – but not on Christmas Eve. Dang that was some good BBQ’ed prawn. Now, keep in mind that I’m not known as a seafood fan but these prawn were so tender and flavorful that if they hadn’t all disappeared in less than 30 minutes I would have sent Hubby back to get me more.

While we ate were serenaded by a keyboard player and the singer that we dubbed Barry White. Barry had a deep, hypnotic voice as he sang various English and French holiday songs for us. The problem was that he didn’t actually speak English as his first language so some of the English songs were slightly different from what we remembered. “Jinge bells, Jinge bells, jingal all da way. Oh what fun it is to ryde in a one horse hopen Slee!.” We joke and mock but he was quite good entertainment and excellent fun even more so because he was so earnest.

I’ll comment on dessert for the evening if only for my Mum whom I’m sure will be jealous. Along with the fruit salad, chocolate cakes and profitte rolls was a giant Croque en Bouche. The best part of this dessert (other than the taste) was that I finally learned how to serve one! They cut into the middle and served from the inside out. Neat, huh?

The final touch of the evening was live Sega music and dancers. There were four musicians: two on drums, one on triangle a singer. The drums were a cool island hybrid: they sounded like cross between Jamaican steel drums and looked like Irish Bodhrans. After the dancers each had their turn in groups and solos they invited the guests to join them. It should be an indicator of how much Hubby had to drink of that bottle of wine that he actually danced with me.

But now it was time for all good little tourists to go back to their rooms and sleep and await Santa. Not being good kids or tourists Hubby and I decided to go to bed anyways just in case Santa got lost and felt like dropping of some gifts for fun. Nighty Night!

A Sleigh Full of Rhum

After a blissful night’s sleep we awoke to find out that Santa had visited and left us with all sorts goodies including French books about Dodos and model ships among other goodies. We toasted in the warm Christmas morning by getting toasted on a Swarovski Crystal studded bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne. The chilled bubbly was the perfect start to a day that would be highlighted by lots of alcohol.

We drove around the island rather aimlessly for much of the day. Our attempts to go on a tour of a rhum factory were thwarted. Just because its Christmas they think they can be closed? How rude! The countryside was a beautiful mélange of green interrupted only by the blues of the ocean that surrounded us. But all that fresh air and nature only served to remind us that we were hungry – as usual.

Lunch was a disaster of Chinese food that should never again be spoken of. The ginger beef was literally gelatinous. *shudder* But it was ok because we were going to move on from there to a traditional Christmas dinner shared over candlelight with romantic music and a general buzz of Christmas in the air. Ok, so it was a tasty if less than traditional meal, and the buzzing came from the mosquitoes that were stalking me but there really was a lit candle!

The dinner being offered at the hotel looked less than appetizing so we wandered into town to see what local delicacies might be available for Christmas dinner. After realizing that most restaurant proprietors were closed for the holidays we turned down an alley and found our perfect meal.

The building was actually a backpackers haven with a semi-Italian restaurant attached. We had heard that the pizza here was some of the best in town and, after a cursory look at the menu, were seated in the corner under an awning of trees and other local greenery. We were presented with the drink menu first: since I didn’t want to spend my entire vacation under the haze of lush-hood I ordered a coke. Hubby had no such compunctions and ordered a drink called Planters Punch, which was a concoction of rum, juice, soda water and grenadine. I was dubious and awaited my coke.

While we debated what we wanted to eat on this holy day our drinks arrived. Hubby’s rum drink was a pretty red color and, he claimed, quite yummy. Not trusting his ability to decide what constituted a good drink I stole his glass and had a sip. Then another sip… then another. Worried, our waiter rushed over to our table wondering if there was something wrong with the drink. I insisted that there was something wrong: that I didn’t have one too.

By the time Hubby and I had both eaten our decidedly yummy pizzas we had also managed to each drink 2 more Planters Punch each. Well, we had to see if the first ones were flukes! We were doing our civic duty.

During the meal we were serenaded by a very talented guitarist who sang romantic songs that, when combined with all the rhum punch, made for a perfect evening.

We then made our way back to our hotel where we enjoyed two more glasses of punch each. This time we drank while watching the stars and sitting on the beach. It was quite a romantic (and slightly alcoholic) end to a pretty wonderful day.

So there you have it: traditional Christmas dinner of pizza and rum punch, a visit from Santa all on a romantic island. Even though we didn’t have a white Christmas we had a wonderful one. Happy Christmas in Mauritius! (See it does rhyme!)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Welcome to 2006!

Happy New Year!!!!!!

Let's let 2006 be the best one yet!

Random Thoughts

Our arrival in Mauritius was heralded by the grand event of our standing in the immigration line for about an hour. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for immigration lines but damn the thing could have moved faster. At least, in a rare occurrence, Hubby actually picked the fast line and we were out of there more quickly than most.

We took a taxi from the airport on the South Eastern coast to our hotel in Flic en Flac on the Western coast. If you’re looking at the map, we were just north of Tamarin. The entire village basically serves the tourist trade and the umpteen hotels that dot the azure blue coastline. If you’re an NPR fanatic like me, you can join my new revolution of calling our base town Flic en Flac the Tappert Brothers… or not.

Our hotel was not the fanciest one in the village by any means but it served our purposes well – a place to come back to after a long day of sightseeing and breakfast and dinner thrown in for free. The food wasn’t always great but the view from the dining area could not be beat. I never realized before how many shades of blue made up the ocean.

The views at night were no less amazing. The southern sky in a night with no light pollution is beautiful beyond words. At home you’re lucky if you can see a dozen or so stars in sky… Mauritius was completely different – there were a dozen different stars in every square inch of sky: I had never before realized how many stars there were. Mars lit the night sky directly in front of our room. The clusters of tiny stars made even a cynic like me wonder for the days when sailors guided their destinies by these pinpricks of light in the darkness. (Of course for true geeks like me it also made you wonder about how cool they would have looked up close for Picard and his crew on board the Enterprise D.)

The stars seemed to move through the velvet sky on their own volition. Hubby said that they weren’t actually moving that I had just had too much to drink. But I disagree. They were dancing through the sky for the benefit of believers like me.

During the day, the view from our balcony changed again: a series of palm trees and a million miles of blue ocean. Perfect day or night from as far as I was concerned.

Ok weird note: one of the few days we turned on the TV two things happened. First, there was no Becker on and this made me very happy. Then we found a channel where Dallas was just beginning that day’s episode – in French. Even the theme song had been translated. It was beyond funny!

Mauritius, for those of you who may not know, is a French-speaking nation. Which meant that I had to dredge up a language I once knew so well I would dream in it. Of course, it’s been more than a decade since I had last spoken at any length in French so I was a wee bit worried about how I would sound. I needn’t have worried. Every time I opened my mouth and spoke French two things happened: First a look that said, “I thought she was American” passed over their faces. Then they’d immediately say, “Oh, you’re Canadian! From Quebec?!” While I’m pleased with how much French I remembered I am more than a little perturbed that my accent so expertly pinpoints me. It’s not that bad a Québécois accent is it? Ok never mind, don’t answer that.

Port Louis, the capital, is a cool place to spend some time.There can be little doubt that the inspiration for the harbor here was that of Cape Town’s own Victoria and Albert. Small shops to deke in and out of, bars that played loud Sega music and just generally happy people lined the harbor area. Although I didn’t do as much shopping as I had hoped, I still helped out the GDP of the island nation by purchasing a few Christmas gifts for both Hubby and myself.

Our first day in Mauritius was amazing. Still to come was Christmas Eve, Christmas, and a week of nothing but fun, relaxation and sun. Each day got progressively better and we became progressively more relaxed. The only problem with Mauritius was that the vacation didn’t last longer. Dammit.