Sunday, December 4, 2011
Saying goodbye to my parents was sad and so was our return to low budget travel. We spent 2 more nights in Stone Town in a hotel at $150 per night - it was OK but a bit depressing. This is really more than we should be paying but anything less makes me uncomfortable. It was raining cats n dogs those 2 days and we mostly stayed in our room and fought with the on again off again internet connection. We also spent hours watching the couple of english TV channels, the highlight of which was the Disney movie Mulan.
To buy ferry tickets though we had to venture out on foot, without any real directions, to try to locate the ferry office. The biggest problem with doing something like this (other than that it was pouring rain) is that everywhere are touts (people selling things) that want to show you the way and then demand money for the service. So you have to refuse to tell them what you are looking for, but they usually figure it out anyway, and then you have people trailing you as you wander around getting lost. Added to this was the fact we were carrying our computers, because it isn't safe to leave them in the room, and were worried they were getting wet. Also the area was pretty dodgy and we definitely stood out. Anyway it was an adventure, but after a couple of hours we were successful and made it back to the hotel soaking wet but with ferry tickets for the next day in hand. Did I mention this was Thanksgiving Day back home? There was no turkey or dressing for us. We ended up going out to a Chinese food restaurant (in Africa) for our holiday meal. It wasn't too bad, but I was a bit homesick for everything and everyone we were missing at home.
The ferry ride was hot and crowded but pretty smooth otherwise. We arrived in Dar Es Salam and went straight to our hotel where we stayed until we had to leave at 5am to the airport. We ate dinner that night in the hotel and much to our surprise Peyton and I were served a pasta dish that tasted just like Mark's mom's turkey tetrazzini - always a favorite for Thanksgiving leftovers. This made us so happy that we ordered another one (Peyton and I usually share meals). The surprise made up a bit for the previous day and helped to assuage my homesickness.
I had booked our place in Mauritius before we left home for some reason I can't really remember now. I think it was because I knew the time we would be there wouldn't change (because of Safari) and I was worried about availability in the high season. Anyway it was a mistake. Not that the apartment was bad, but it wasn't exactly good either and I'm sure I could have done a lot better with my last minute strategy. For one thing we shared it with several geckos and for another none of the drains worked well, which is always gross. The apartment's best feature was it's location - across the street from a nice small local beach and within walking distance of a good grocery store. The worst thing was the bed, tiny and hard and with low thread count sheets that wouldn't stay on. Mauritius turned out to be very expensive too, and after one $70 not very good dinner we took to cooking all our meals ourselves. This wasn't all bad though as Mark makes the world's best breakfasts!
The highlight of our week in Mauritius for Mark and the kids was their kite surfing lesson. This was a "present" I had given Mark a couple of Christmases ago that he had never managed to collect on. The kids ponied up their adventure dollars too and went along. On the first lesson you don't get a board, you just have a kite and learn by being dragged around by it. But the bay they used was beautiful, and they all had a great time. I opted for a pedicure instead and was equally happy with my choice.
After that first day though the week went down hill. Peyton wasn't feeling well and just got progressively worse until we finally had to ask after a Doctor. A very nice one made a house call and ordered up about five prescriptions, one of which was Bactrim, the antibiotic that they use at home to treat her recurrent sinus infections. The medicine (Dr plus meds $130) eventually did the trick but she sat in the apartment all that week and we mostly sat with her.
I wasn't crazy about Mauritius, but admittedly that could have been due mostly to our accommodation and Peyton's illness. It was kind of a strange place though, fairly crowded with lots of young locals and geriatric French tourists. Mark liked it better - especially the fact that he could go everyday and swim laps across the bay. I didn't think it was anywhere near as pretty as Hawaii or the the Caribbean and an awful lot harder to get to, at least for those of us in North America.
Now we are off to South Africa and I am ready to go! We made contact with a lovely woman (again through Home Away) who has agreed to rent her beautiful home in Cape Town to us for almost 2 weeks at a fraction of her regular rates. The goodness of people to us as strangers has been one of the most wonderful discoveries of our trip.
Posted by Pepperdine Doctoral Students at 12:34 AM