Well can you believe it…it is now my second year in beautiful Mauritius. For those that don’t know – I have taken another year of Leave Without Pay from DETWA and will obviously have a very difficult decision to make later in the year …and it WILL be a very difficult one to make.

As much as I love living here & being involved in the development of the business, there are still many things that I really miss about living in Perth. I guess the time will come (probably too soon) when I will have to weigh up if I can live without them or not for another few years. Well – like the proverbial ostrich – I am avoiding thinking about that at the moment…and anyway – I don’t have time to…

The week before Xmas was chaotic…P was away – My mum had arrived on the 17th Dec and unfortunately, I was still working…then my Aussie friend, Sue arrived on the 21st and I was still working…luckily the two of them seemed to be content with sitting at home, reading and doing cryptic crosswords. I picked P & the 6yo Son 2 up from the airport on the 24th and then I was back at work until the end of the day. Then home & started preparing for Xmas lunch…

We had decided to have a very mixed up Xmas lunch – to cater for the multicultural and vegetarian tastes…whole cooked fish on the BBQ, turkey, cold ham, salads & baked vegies, fruit salad, plum pudding & custard for dessert…a veritable feast…

During the week Mum was here – we put up our “Xmas tree”…a couple of specially chosen dead branches, artistically trimmed of unwanted twigs & broken bits, decorated with tinsel & ornaments…very fashionable, I’m sure, somewhere in the world…

Xmas Day started out as a lot of fun – good company – food eaten out on the verandah was great – we had water pistol fights which Lucas was really into – singing and dancing to modern Xmas carols then later when it got dark, we set off fireworks and then there was more singalongs to tunes we found on the net…but then, Mum discovered that someone or sometwo opportunists had “broken into” her room upstairs and taken her handbag and backpack. I say “broken into” because all the windows have steel bars over the windows on Mauritian houses – so what they had done was open the window and “fished” her bags out thru the bars…and it had been done while we were inside the house. Don’t worry – the two dogs had a good talking to about their jobs as guard dogs…

We found her bags outside on the roof and luckily, only the cash had been taken…unfortunately it was a large amount that she had just withdrawn from the bank the day before…so we called the police and they came out & took a report, checked the room and left, saying that the CID would be in contact. A few days later a man on a motorbike turned up & did the same thing. Then another 2 guys came and dusted the window for prints (and I’m still trying to clean the black stuff off the shutters and windows and curtains and bed…) but we were told that they were professional and must have been wearing gloves since there were no prints, only smudges. Such a horrible end to a great day. Mum was pretty good about it – at least they didn’t take any credit cards or her house keys or passports or glasses or camera etc…

New Year’s Eve was better…P & I & Susie went out with a bunch of friends on a catamaran into Grand Bay and cruised around eating & drinking & watched the huge fireworks displays that started about 11.30pm. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that nice – it rained a bit & the wind was a bit chilly out on the water but the fireworks were fantastic. Every hotel around the area had their own display that went off at different times. One of the large hotels had a barge set in the middle of the bay and when those fireworks went off, it lit up most of the bay. Magnificent!

We didn’t manage to do many touristy things – although Mum & Susie & I went off to visit the Sugar museum “L’adventure du sucre”…we spent over 2 hours there and still could have spent more time…so much information about the history of the island, the sugar industry & huge displays of machinery used, old & modern…best bit was the rum tasting at the end…

Sugarcane was introduced to the island in 1638 by the Dutch (who are blamed for the extinction of the dodo by eating them all) and was used for the production of “arrack” – a type of moonshine rum. In 1810 there was only about 2% of the island covered in sugarcane, owned by a few Franco-Mauritian families & worked by indentured Indian workforce. With all the clearing of forests, the amount of land available increased and there is about 90% of cultivated land now under sugar cane. But despite more & more land being put under sugarcane, the number of factories has decreased. In 1810 there were 222, today there are 2, which has obviously had a huge impact on employment as now so much of the process is automated…and there ends today’s history lesson….

Susie left on the 3rd & P still had some time off with Son 2 before he left to take him back to Perth on the 6th. I went back to work in the office on the 4th but took time off the next couple of days to go with P, Son 2 & my mum to the Waterpark & to Casella Nature & Leisure Park for a safari adventure.

Casella is awesome. The reserve spreads over 8 hectares & has more than 140 varieties of birds from across the 5 continents. It’s also home to a number of cheetah & lions, who were abandoned as cubs & brought over from South Africa. It was a shame that Lucas was too little to have a chance to pet them like we did.

Casella

Lioness at Casella

We went into the lion compound armed only with a thick stick, accompanied by a guide & couple of keepers. We had to walk slowly & not make any quick movements or loud noises. For about 20-30mins we spent time walking around from lion to lion, squatting or standing next to the lions & patting them…it was an incredible experience & certainly made me feel vulnerable when crouched down next to this huge beast that could take my arm off with one bite… That said though – it was interesting to watch some of the behaviour, like the rubbing & rolling & recognise it from the 2 clawed ones I have at home…and for those of you who are thinking “ahhh, they are probably so well fed they wouldn’t be interested in food..” – these lions only get fed every 2-3 weeks late in the evening – to try & simulate their own natural feeding pattern (the guide only told me that when I was already back outside the compound).

Then P & Son 2 took off back to Perth. I spent a bit of quality time with Mum which was really good. She left on the 14th, her birthday, after we spent a lovely day together & had a great meal at a place at Mahlbourg, near the airport.

P’s mum had spent the past few months in hospital going through some more chemo for the leukaemia that developed from the chemo she’d had for breast cancer a couple of years ago. She was released from hospital while P was in Perth so he took some extra time to spend with her. She has been back into hospital since with infections that all chemo patients are prone to and has had another lot of chemo. Although they only gave her a 30% chance of it working, we are keeping fingers crossed that this last dose will make a difference.

On the business front – we have had a new corporate identity developed…a completely new logo & colour scheme…I even have my own business cards which makes me feel very special of course. We have hired 2 more guys and I was involved in the basic training last week while Paul & Herb are away. It seems that there are many companies in SA that are interested in talking to us but don’t seem to trust if we don’t have an office in their country, so we are in the process of establishing a satellite office in South Africa.

P, Herb & one of the Mauritian girls, Vanessa, spent last week in Zambia doing the first part of the implementation. A very different experience for Vanessa to be on a developing mine-site in Africa with no hot water, limited power & facilities when her overseas experience has been mainly visiting shopping capitals like Singapore, and studying at Curtin in Perth.

And the GIS “family” is growing with Senthil’s (the guy from India) baby due in about a week and Herb’s baby due in August…

On my “family” front – the four furry girls are all happy and for the most part have been healthy. Ivy the Aussie cat, was very sick for about a month & I was extremely worried that I was going to lose her. Even the vets were at a loss as to what was wrong. But being the tough aussie girl that she is – she seems to have recovered now (touch wood!!)… Holly the collie is still her usual dopey self but has put on a bit of weight – with the smaller yard she can’t run around as much & the huge hours spent working has limited my time to walk her (I know it’s not really an excuse!)…Cifa the mauritian cat is a complete nutter (I wonder if some of her feralness has gone to her brain sometimes) – completely devoted to me – and does the most demented things…the latest is digging holes in the gravel drive and sitting in them with her head down in the hole…I have NO idea what she is thinking – that she’s invisible???

baby Daisy

Holly & Daisy playing with rope toy

And the lastest addition, Daisy the mauritian mongrel is an absolute terror, cute but naughty…LOVES Holly to bits or rather I should say LOVES TO BITE Holly to bits…and to her credit Holly is incredibly tolerant of her playing (probably a good thing she has soooo much fur). Have a look at the photo of the 2 of them playing with a rope doll.

Daisy is a pretty clever little pup – 5 mths old now – except in the area of not peeing in the house…when she does, she comes & wakes me and usually walks to where she’s peed and looks at me, tail wagging & grinning (pulls her lip back to show her top teeth)…I’m not sure what she’s trying to tell me but it’s a bit hard not to laugh at her performance…and she’s a bit of a magpie – she will go around the house and “collect” things to sleep with…the other week I woke up to find her snuggled up on her blanket with a set of Uno cards (spread out but not chewed), a couple of caps, a CD, the pool tester kit box, and a shoe…I wonder if Sue & Brian (housesitters) will be able to cope for a couple of weeks with the crazy household that I live in when I’m away…

I will be heading to Perth in April for my uncle’s wedding and it will give me chance to catch up with Son 1 & friends. Son 1 is still living with his girlfriend, Emma, & her mum. He’s now doing a TAFE course to do with sports coaching and management & absolutely loving it…although he now says that he wishes he had paid more attention in Human Bio, (shout out to Kerry B!!!) after they had an exercise to put together a whole skeleton from a box of bones…He’s involved with teeball coaching & hockey & is looking at getting his umpiring quals for teeball. He very proudly told me that he has achieved his RSA (responsible service of alcohol) certificate so now he can work behind a bar and is looking at finding a casual job to help out with costs since Centrelink won’t accept him as an independent for Youth Allowance…

Anyway…Hope this term has gone well for you teacher mates of mine…I think of you guys jealously in those moments of time when I get my head above the paperwork pile…to all others I hope you are well…I would love to catch up while in Perth but as always time goes too quickly so I won’t make any promises I can’t keep…

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter