Saturday, 25 September 2010


Katie and I moved into our house this week! We’re living in Rose Hill which is a 35 minute bus ride from work - which isn’t too bad. We tried to find somewhere in Albion, but it’s very expensive. We couldn’t find anything for our 6,000 rupees a month budget – which is around 120 pounds.
Using our connections with the Soroptomists we’re renting a house from Mrs Dinon (who is one of the founding members of the Mauritius Soroptomists). The house is at the bottom of her garden and her daughter lived there for a couple of months.  

The house has three bedrooms, (one of them has turned into our phone room – we have a house phone!!) three bathrooms, a kitchen, a living area, a dining area and a garden. We also have a washing machine! Our first day at the house turned into one big cleaning operation. We started in the kitchen. It took us all afternoon. We found ant grave yards and lizard poo. It DEFINITELY needed a spring clean. Then we sweeped and mopped all the floors!

The second day we tackled our bedrooms and the bathrooms. So, the house is almost all clean now!

The House
Pashmina’s and material are really cheap over here – about 3 pounds. I’d like to buy some to put up on my walls and brighten the place up a bit. I don’t think we’re allowed to paint.

Some funny things about the house...

- Katie and I were leaving the house the other night. We switched off all the lights and there’s a glow in the dark crucified Jesus on the wall! It was a little freaky...
- One of the bathrooms (the one with the hot water!) isn’t in use at the moment… There’s a wasp nest inside the shower… I was just having my shower the other day starkers and they all started to buzz and swarm about everywhere. I ran away screaming loudly (not before grabbing a towel).
- There are mosquitoes everywhere. The house is right next to a river. And they start to come out at 3 o’clock. I have been eaten alive… they seem to like my ankles...

Anyway! I have an address now! Letters would be really nice!
    8 Eliacin Francois Street,

And my phone number is 454 3781 (not including the area code for Mauritius... whatever it may be :S)


So we’ve been on the island for a month now. Much exploring has been done! I’m just going to tell you a little bit about all the places that Katie and I have visited!

Port Louis

Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius. It’s on the West coast of the Island. It’s a very diverse city. You have the traditional markets, stalls and Hawkers! But then along side it all are the high rise buildings, the harbour and English pubs…

The markets are amazing. You can buy literally anything! Unfortunately, there is no such thing as leisurely shopping. You can’t just stop and have a little look. There’s a stream of people who are constantly moving. You end up being the annoying tourist, having a ‘wee potter’ who won’t get out of the way. You have to be quite careful! A lot of people will put prices up because you’re the ‘rich’ foreigner. But, you just have to say “I’m a volunteer, I’m living and working in Mauritius and I HAVE NO MONEY!” Katie and I haven’t bought anything at the markets yet, mainly because we’re worried we’ll be ripped off. Most people speak French, so it can be a little difficult to negotiate.  But once our French has improved we'll definitely go to the markets more!

The food courts in Port Louis are really cool as well! There’s one which is right in the middle of the markets. You go in, and people just shout at you! And whistle! And click! They do anything to get your attention! Going in for the first was very intimidating! But once you know where you’re going and what you want you’re sorted! You can get roti’s in the food market which are an Indian style flat bread. (Mauritian’s like to eat them as far as I know!). They are rolled up with a mixture of curries and chilli inside them. They’re really nice + cheap! (Only 10 rupees each which is 20p!).

I’ve also explored the meat market with the other volunteers. It was horrible. Imagine walking through the worst slaughter house and x10. I only went into the Pig house (because after that I couldn’t take any more). There were the skinned heads of pigs hanging on hooks, guts lying everywhere and there were cockroaches all over the floor. It was so dirty and it stank! Basically… I won’t be buying any meat from there any time soon. Some other volunteers went into the Goat house but most came out gagging. (I’m glad I didn’t go in there).

The harbour is really different. It’s been well developed in the last few years. There’s a few hotels, pubs and restaurants and shopping centres. It’s much quieter than the markets but not as exciting I feel. It’s nice if you want to get away from the busyness and just chill! We went to an English pub the other afternoon. A home away from home... sort of!

The South of the Island

Last weekend, Katie and I spent with Bryonny and her family. Bryonny lives in Black River which is to the South coast of the island. We had a really nice weekend. She took us for a long scenic drive with her two kids Troy and Kira (I’ve going to upload some picture of them!). So, we headed towards Chamarel making stops on the way to take in some of the scenery. That day we saw a completely different Mauritius. Lots of green green green and green! It resembled jungle! And this is what all of Mauritius looked like at one point - until the land was felled for sugar cane and townships etc. I’ve got some amazing photos which I’m uploading! We also visited the ‘Seven Coloured Sands’ which is a ‘seven coloured sand geological site created by volcanic rock’. They had Giant Tortoises! And yes, they are MASSIVE! You were allowed to stroke them, they were so friendly! Apparently they are strong enough to walk (very slowly) with a person sitting on their back! You can do this at another park in Mauritius and get your photo taken. Katie and I will have to do that one day!
Anyway! It was a very good day! It was great to see a new part of the island!

The East Coast of the Island

Katie and I have briefly seen the East coast, but not enough for me to write a blog on! We spent last weekend at Heidi’s in-laws beach house on the East coast. It was beautiful!

Also something worth mentioning about...

The Weather

There are loads of mini climates. It tends to be much hotter and dry on the coast. The further inland you go the colder and wetter it is. But it’s far from a subtle difference. For instance, I was in Floreal this morning. It was freezing – probably as cold as Scotland! I slept cocooned in my duvet! Then we got the bus into Port Louis and it got very hot… very quickly. Port Louis is about a 20km from Floreal and there wasn’t a cloud in sight! I had a pair of jeans and my hoodie on! You end up being dressed completely wrong for the day!

The People

Mauritian’s are very very friendly. Katie and I have found ourselves getting French lessons while waiting for the bus, and through Heidi we’ve met many lovely people! They’re so kind. We spent last weekend with Bryonny, this weekend we are house sitting for one of Bryonny’s friends and in a couple of weeks we are spending the weekend at Jeanine’s.
Lots of Mauritians go to study in the UK so many know it quite well! Some even know where Aberdeen is! My taxi man lived in Aberdeen for 7 years! It’s such a small world!

Starting at Namaste

Katie and I have finally started at Namaste! We’ve worked two days so far. The first day was a bit of a struggle. We weren’t initially planning on going in, so we didn’t go very well prepared. The girls only recently moved into the home, so their toys haven’t yet been moved from their previous home near Quatre Bornes (which is where the Namaste boys are now accommodated). Considering our lack of resources, the day went quite well. The girls love to sing and dance! So at first we were singing songs and making up dances to go with them! Thank goodness Katie did Brownies back home! Then, we played in the garden. We made a mini house, garden and dolls out of sticks, leaves and pegs. It was funny! Then we were running seriously short on ideas. With the language barrier it was difficult to try and initiate a game. But they understood tag! So the rest of the afternoon we ran around the garden chasing each other! Then we started the three hour journey home (at that time we were living in Floreal).

The second day was much more organised! We brought along paper, crayons, bubbles and a ball to Namaste. At first we got the bubbles out! The girls loved these! They went a bit bubble mad and managed to finish them quite quickly, but we topped them up (thanks to fairy liquid and water). It was funny watching them chase the bubbles, pop them and run about screaming! Then, we got out the paper and crayons which kept them busy for ages! We drew pictures, they coloured them in and they scribbled! In the afternoon, we played with the ball (once Jennifer decided to share it). One thing Katie and I have learned – we have to make it clear when something is to share with everyone at the home. When we gave Jennifer the ball in the morning she thought it belonged to ‘her’ when actually, it was to share between everyone. She carried that ball around all morning and refused to give it to anyone! She managed to get herself into a little trouble with Geraldine who began to hit her with sticks…
We need to learn the Creole for ‘to share!’.

Anyway! Katie and I are hopefully getting some funding from the Soroptomists for arts and crafts and play mats! Hopefully this means we will have loads of things to do with the kids in the future!

Monday, 13 September 2010

First Impressions of Namaste

Katie and I visited Namaste early last week. We've discovered a few changes have gone on! Namaste has been split into two - the girls centre in Albion and the boys centre near Quatre Bornes. We will be working at the girls centre for the year! Dissapointingly we haven't started at Namaste yet! We haven't found accomodation in Albion. So, it's a little difficult for us to travel to and from work as Heidi's house is in Floreal. Hopefully we'll be starting very soon though!

Albion is on the West Coast of Mauritius, inbetween Flic en Flac and Port Louis. It's considerably quiet and less touristy than areas such as Flic en Flac and Black River. There has been talk of building this and that hotel but it remains a nice little beach town!

So, stepping into Namste! It's a very happy place! The girls were all bright and happy with big smiles! They're all very well taken care of. Just walking around the home, Katie and I were coming up with some things that we can do. The garden is a mess, so we were thinking we could take it on as a project. Get some chickens, maybe a rabbit and get the kids involved!
Someting we've realised is Namaste offers us a lot of freedom. It's up to us to create a successful project! Eeek!

Aswell! Katie and I attended a Soroptomists meeting (who are involved with fundraising for Namaste). We'll be a contact point for them in terms of Namaste's needs!

Really looking forward to starting work. I hope Katie and I can make some contribution!