Whats it all about . . .

My name is Rachel Talbot and from September 2011 to July 2012 I will be Volunteering for Project Trust, a charitable organization which sends young adults from 17-19yrs overseas to do charitable work in a range of projects. I raised 5000 pounds for this opportunity through a range of events and would like to thank everyone who donated! This year i will be working in a center for children with disabilities while immersing myself in all things Mauritian! Hopefully i can update here what i am up to, may not update religiously . . . Thanks for visiting :)

Monday, 9 July 2012

June and leaving blues . . .

Since I last wrote I’ve been trying to explore as much of Mauritius and what it has to offer before I go! I went Parasailing on Ile aux Cerf, which is apparently the most beautiful part of the island, two little islands accessed by boat with a blue lagoon strip of water separating them. It was really breathtaking even in winter. We had a nice lunch on the Island and then were taken out to a pontoon to do Parasailing. It was amazing. To be so high up you can see over so much of the island and looking down at the crystal clear blue sea below – I would recommend it to anyone!!

We also went to the cinema last weekend to watch a typical Bollywood film. Something we hadn’t had the privileged yet of experiencing . . .  for my food for the film I got Ten rupee bags of peanuts and baguette fromage (cheese cake) which is like a deep fried dough – which five bags came to about a pound – compare that to paying ten pounds for some popcorn and coke at home! The film was unbelievably long – three hours with an interval in the middle! It was your typical mix of sing along songs, drama and colour. It was incredibly OTT but I’m glad I experienced it!

Last weekend I and Helen decided at last minute to head to the carnival that was going on at Flic en Flac beach. It was the first one in Mauritius and performers had come from all over the world so we thought it was a must do. Seems so did the rest of the island . . . We headed from Curepipe bus station at one o’clock, didn’t get to the beach (usually a 45 minute journey) until four o’clock. Our bus, full of rowdy Mauritians heading to the carnival, broke down twenty minutes into the journey so we had to wait in the baking hot sun for a replacement. Then the Traffic jam was insane, about a half hour away from the beach it started. After enduring it for well over two hours we weren’t too far from the beach, or so we thought. So like all the others on the bus we got off and headed towards the beach. Hundreds of Mauritians were flooding down the hill and taking shortcuts through the sugar cane. We couldn’t go through there without breaking off a cheeky bit of sugar cane and chewing on it as we walked, the best free snack! It satisfied us for the half an hour journey down to the beach!!

As we were heading down the hill with loads of singing dancing drinking Mauritians and tourists it was a really awesome festival feel – why did I have to have work the next day?! Once we got there we were just in time to watch the floats as they were leaving. They were so much fun, blaring out music, from all over the world, dancers from Brazil, Miss England and Chinese performers. My favorite was the steel drummers from La Reunion Island which you couldn’t help but dance to. There was a massive crowd up and down the street, some of the performers were even getting crushed. Apart from that it was a really good vibe, with the sun beating down it was the perfect day for it. I felt sorry for the poor guy in the Lion King float who had one a full body giraffe suit complete with two metre head who must have been baking in there swaying from side to side! 

After about an hour of watching the floats pass by me and Helen had to ask ourselves.  How on earth were we getting home?! The roads were jammed people were flooding in to Flic en Flac to have what was guaranteed to be a good night while families were flooding out desperate to get home before dark. There was suppose to be a public bus but we passed it stuck in traffic as we walked out of the beach. People had there heads stuck out the window gasping for air – no chance! Even if we got a taxi we would be hours stuck in a bottle jam trying to get out. So back up the hill we walked. Cue some seen out of an apocalyptic film as hundreds of men women and children flooded up the hill in search of refuge and hopefully a taxi at the Cascavelle shopping centre. As we climbed up that hill which seemed never ending, we met other volunteers, people we knew and made friends with tourists, all joined together in this desperate situation. Once we finally got to the shopping centre, we were desperate, tired and had blisters the size of grapes! Thankfully the first man we asked to point us in the direction of a taxi just said he would take us with his family as he was going our way home (sorry PT – shouldn’t really take lifts form strangers!) but we were desperate. So we hopped in the car and heading back to home! Dirty from the sugar plantations, tired form the walking but on a high from the fun carnival it was an adventure of a day J

Some of the things from Mauritius I’m going to miss

Just buying a ten rupee snack from the street. There is nowhere in UK where you can just pick something up for ten pence if you fancy something to graze on. Since freddos have gone up to fifteen pence or something ridiculous you can be bankrupt just buying some chocolate at home

Wearing flip flops 24/7 and not just using sunglasses as a fashion statement. Would it be optimistic to wear flip flops and sunnies coming off the plane at home?

Cycling to work in the morning when the sun is coming up. And hearing the old men in the ghetto calling out greetings every morning and asking for a turn on my bike.

Speaking in Creole (even in my accent is shoddy!) the appreciation form people when they know you’ve learnt their language is always gratifying.

On a Sunday there always being a group of old men sitting in the shade of a tree crouching in the dirt to play dominoes. I didn’t know there was even that many ways to win dominoes but they love it!
Sega music and the laid back reggae music

Going for long bus journeys across the country and looking out on the sugar plantations and palm trees and hills and always being taken aback by how beautiful it is here.

Greeting every kid in the morning and hearing their stories and having banter with them

Big warm hugs from Emeline when you’re freezing cold in the playground

Buying fresh fruit from the market for next to nothing. When there in season just getting a 24 pence pineapple chopping it up and eating it on the baloney in the sun.

Being completely isolated from everything that happening in the UK with no Television or newspapers.

Phoenix fresh beer. Mmmm.

And the things I’m looking forward to,

My mum’s home cooking,

Going to Belladrum Music festival with all the girls :D

Swapping winter here for summer in Scotland . . .

Giving my sisters a hug

Sleeping in my bed!

That’s me at nineteen days till I’m home. Just under a month. I know that some people go away to do just a   month of volunteering so I can’t help but feel grateful that I’ve had this whole year to experience my country and to make a real bond with the kids. I know i may never get the money to come out here again, i truly hope this is not true as it's like having a good friend and then cutting them off and never speaking to them again - unthinkable. means too much. But i know i have to go back home to bigger things, University.

Madame Rita just returned from a trip to Naples. she was so shocked by the level of poverty and the way in which children are treated there in the sex trade and sweat shops that she is planning on opening a shelter, like CEDEM, in a region of Naples. This has given me an idea to take a placement at the new shelter, once it opens. i can save the money while at university and go in University holidays. with the connection with Madame already in place it would be easy to set up. And in this way i could hear about the children in CEDEM from Madame. Seems PT gap years open doors :)

Now I’m focusing on getting all my souvenirs and presents for everyone – but what to get when you’ve been away for a year?!? Rum and everything plastered with the Dodo is a must.

See you all much sooner than you think!

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