Update from our explorer in Mauritius

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Update from our explorer in Mauritius

3 February 2012

Hi everyone, I hope you are all OK.

I’ve now been here for 4 months, which is slightly mad, and I’m still having a great time. Work is work. I really enjoy playing with the kids but the lesson preparation is a bit of a bore. I try to make it interesting for them, bringing in maps and trying to make Maths fun but it’s difficult when all they want to do is go outside and play in the sun, which I wouldn’t mind doing myself. We have to abide by this timetable so we teach Maths, English, French, Science and History/Geography every day to a group of 5 severely dyslexic 8 year olds and a 16 year old. They really only know the basics so we play a lot of games and let them colour a lot. Their favourite TV programme is a Mexican show called Maria la del Barrio and they are convinced I’m the main actress in it. I play along. Thankfully my French Creole is improving and I can I can now have fluent conversations with the kids and staff. The girls have also grown confident with us but unfortunately with that confidence, they don’t mind bearing all. I’ve pretty much seen everything I wish to see of the female human body, including when one of the girls had piles! It’s not a nice sight. They also tell us the gossip at shelter where a lot of lesbianism is involved. You would not believe half of the stories I have heard. It has been sad recently when one girl ran away and the 12 year old pregnant girl lost her baby on the same night. It has been hard at work because the staff have accused us of not doing any work, ‘hindering rather than helping’ the staff. The frustrating thing is that the staff don’t come into the Shelter and see what we are doing with the kids. They just stay in the office, munching on food and socialising. They are meant to be the teachers but the only kids having lessons at the moment are the ones we look after!!
In October we celebrated Diwali. I was at work for 14 hours straight, dressing up in churidars, dancing, eating, setting fireworks into each other’s faces, (noone got hurt) and lighting diyas (clay lights). It was a nice day. The girls at Shelter had 2 and a bit months holiday over the Christmas period and we went on a lot of trips, going to the aquarium, various beaches, a whole day catamaran ride, a sugar factory estate and the local botanical gardens. It was nice to see them outside of the walls of Shelter and enjoying themselves. At the Shelter, it’s hard to get them from sneaking off and sleeping all day.
At work, they like to have a lot of official ceremonies. Before Christmas the Prime Minister came which was all very stressful. I had a long chat with his wife who then invited me around to her house to see her 13 dogs. The ceremony was on TV and there was an interview with the Prime Minister. I just happened to be standing a couple of metres behind, in the middle of the Prime Minister and the guy interviewing him, not paying attention at all, laughing at my friend who was hiccuping really loudly.
Before Christmas, for about 2 weeks, we had no running water in the house which was a bit of a pain but all part of the experience. Some days I couldn’t be bothered to wash because it took too much effort. My other flatmates were pretty stressed about it, but I quite enjoyed it. There’s been an ongoing drought all over the island so we’ve got nearly 50 bottles of water for the next time it happens and the chances are pretty high that it will.
Over the Christmas period we rented a car so we could travel around the island. On Christmas Eve we went to an adventure park and ziplined through the forests and mountains for 6 hours, swam through a gorge and ziplined into a lagoon. Christmas Day was fun too, I went to work to have lunch, so I didn’t have to cook, and we had a buffet with various different curries and noodles. On Boxing Day we hit the beach.
In the New Year, a lot of the girls were hospitalised because of boils on their hands and feet…unfortunately they were passed on to me and my friend Daisy. Daisy was in hospital for 4 days because she had to have an operation on an abscess and I luckily just had to take antibiotics. I was also hospitalised in early December because of a high fever and tonsilitis..it was a little bit of an overreaction by the doctor but I made sure I took full advantage of the hospital facilities and had a week off work. A couple of months ago I had a serious infestation of headlice. In one night, my friend took out over 50. It was disgusting. Thankfully they have now gone due to an unfortunate incident at the hairdressers where they bleached my hair ginger and highlighted it grey, killing the lice. My hair is now black after deciding ginger isn’t for me. However, the ginger still shines through when the sunlight hits, which is quite often. I look a state.
On the pest front, we’ve had more cockroaches and lizards since the temperatures have increased. I killed 5 cockroaches in one night the other day and we actually kept one in our lounge, underneath a cup, for 2 months. We let him free last week and he scuttled away quite rapidly considering he hadn’t eaten for that amount of time. I’ve had 2 lizards manage to fall ontop of me too.
The weather here at the moment is at both extremes. Cyclone Ethel was expected to hit a couple of days ago but all we got was a 20 minute thunderstorm one evening, where fork lightening was lighting up the sky. Other than that, it’s been pretty hot. We went to the beach yesterday and there wasn’t a cloud in sight, resulting in a lobster coloured belly.
A lot more has probably happened but I don’t want to bore you with a massive email!!
Happy New Year.
Love Freya xx
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