Friday, 25 February 2011

Some recent antics...

After the Christmas period we decided we should definitely get out more (a New Years Resolution). It seems our life is becoming about work, work, work... and more work. Probably sounds familiar to some of you? Haha! Katie and I decided we would fulfill this resolution by going to the beach in Albion a couple of days a week after work. A great way to cool down - it is so hot at the minute. So we were at the beach about a month ago. And I managed to step on a Sea Urchin... It was rather sore... but nothing much could be done. I just have some lovely little black dimples on the sole of my right foot now - my little memoir of afternoons spent in the sea in Delicious Mauritius! But we did also make a new friend that day. A certain local called Bruno. He's currently studying Interior Architecture at an Australian University and was home for a few weeks. He has unfortunately returned to Australia quite recently. But Katie, Charlie and I still keep in contact with him. Anyway, he suggested we have a little expedition to the Lighthouse in Albion (the only Lighthouse on the whole of the Island). Katie and I were very pleased he suggested this as it happens to be the Lighthouse which every single day we pass on the bus, and every single day we say, "we really have to go and have a look at that lighthouse one day...". But being the disorganised bunch we are, we hadn't got round to it yet. And probably wouldn't have.

Albion Lighthouse happens to be placed on very picturesque cliffside at Belle Vue (close to Albion) overlooking the deep blue choppy sea. I suppose there's not much point in describing the actually lighthouse itself as most of you can probably guess - red and white stripes... rather tall... flashing light etc. I'd never been in a lighthouse before. It was quite a treck to get to the top. A neat little spiral ran up the edge with three floors breaking between. On the first floor there was a massive light (which I was surprised about as I thought there would only be one at the top). But apparently this is the case in most Lighthouses but it's often too small a light to see (Bruno's observation - not very sure myself...). So we climbed to the top and a step ladder led up to the final platform. We snuck through a little side door (Katie and I both banging our heads on the way out) and we were outside! Katie has a great fear of heights... so she wasn't too comfortable at the top of this massive Lighthouse. But she was very brave! And shimmied around keeping her back pressed against the wall. The views were spectacular. At one side we had the clear blue sea for miles and miles with the sun getting ready to set on the horizon. While the other side Mauritius' mountains spanned infront of your eyes with lots of green green green! Very beautiful. I can see why people would say Mauritius is Paradise.

Afterwards we decided it would appropriate to go for a little swim/dive around Monkey Mountain (as it's known by the locals). Monkey Mountain is a steep cliffside - maybe two or three times the height of my house in Scotland. It's where many of the locals will go to satisfy a want for an extreme adrenaline rush I suppose... Or maybe a quick death. I definitely wouldn't jump from the top. But there is a very deep, large pool of water at the bottom, quite sheltered from the currents of the sea. It's very safe to swim there. We climbed to the bottom and made our way up the rocky slope about a 1/4 of the way - plenty for me. And then jumped! I've never jumped from such a great height before! It was so exciting! As you plunged into the water you felt like all the air had been kicked out of your lungs! Haha! Such an exhilarating feeling! Ludovic (one of Bruno's friends who came with us) and I jumped a few times while Katie and Bruno were quite happy just to swim in the pool at the bottom.

So that's one of our little days out. Will write another blog entry quite soon!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Chagossians

Sorry for the serious lack of blogging recently! Disaster has struck - Charlie's laptop may be broken. I haven't been able to write any since and all the blogs I was working on are temporarily inaccessible! Eeek!
I've been working at Namaste for over 5 months now! I'm feeling like I need a change and something a little more challenging. So I went to a meeting in Pointe aux Sables yesterday to meet Olivier Bancoult - the leading man of the Chagossians! I'm going to be teaching at their education centre hopefully within the next couple of weeks! Exciting stuff!

I’m not sure if you know the story behind the Chagossians so here’s a little explanation. The Chagossians are a large community from the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean. They were exiled from their home in the 1960’s because Britain- who at the time ‘owned’ the islands sold them to the U.S. so they could set up a military base there. One day a ship came to take all of them away- shooting all of their dogs and leaving their homes behind. They arrived in Mauritius as foreigners without jobs, money or homes and were given very, very minimal compensation for it. Olivier Bancoult, the son of a man who was exiled, has taken on the cause and campaigns insanely hard to raise awareness of their struggle and also to try and get the government to allow them to return to their motherland. This is not seeming likely- especially as recently it has been suggested that a ‘nature reserve’ should be set up around the islands which would mean that it would become an impossibility for the Chagossians to return. Many are poor and live in slums, drug and alcohol misuse is a big problem too- but Bancoult believes that community and education can work together to try and solve this.