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05.11.2006

Namibia to Mauritius

Wow, this was a tough day—I knew it would be when we booked the tickets. We arrived at the Windhoek airport at 9:30 am for our 11:00 am flight, and found out that the flight had just left. We got lazy about reconfirming and didn't learn that the flight time had changed. Fortunately, there was a South African Airlines flight at 12:50 pm, so they switched us to that and didn't charge us anything. The only thing this did for us was make us wait a couple of hours in Windhoek and cut our ten-hour wait down to eight in J'Burg, so we were really lucky.

We then spent a frustrating hour trying to reconfirm our next flight (we're no dummies), and letting the Quintiles office know that we would be late and to see if we could still come. It was frustrating first because it was hard to figure out what numbers to dial to reach South Africa from Namibia, then our minutes ran out in the middle of the phone tag with Hans, so we had to get a new card. We didn't reach Hans until we arrived in J'Burg and it turned out that he couldn't make the later time and Gillian had been in a bad car accident a couple of days prior, so she couldn't meet either.

So we decided to hang out at the airport. Annette fell asleep on the plane five minutes before it landed, so I carried her off as dead-weight and she slept on my shoulder for thirty minutes as we walked through the airport. We looked at going to a hotel for the wait, but at $123 for six hours and with Annette already past her nap, it wasn't worth it. We found a comfy spot in a bar and nursed some drinks and snacks for about four hours, then moved on so that we didn't out-stay our welcome. The wait between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm was tough since it was past the girls' bedtime. They were very good but we were all tired.

The flight was tough. It took off at 11:35 pm. The girls fell asleep almost immediately, but it wasn't a good sleep since the chairs are so small. The flight was only 3.5 hours, and then with the two-hour time difference, we arrived at 5:00 am. The guest house taxi man picked us up and took us to the room, which was great that we were able to check in early. No air-conditioning and no mosquito nets, so hopefully it cools off at night with no bugs. We arrived to 70 degrees but high humidity since it had just rained, and not a single bit of breeze. Neither Darren nor I slept on the plane, so we all went (back) to sleep when we arrived. Darren and I got about 1.5 hours of rest and the girls got another four hours. It will be an early night for all of us tonight.

05.12.2006

Mauritius: Day 1

Our big objectives for the day were to scope out the place and get settled. We need to get transportation, food, do laundry and find an internet place-we've got to get a car lined up for Australia next week.

Apparently the neighborly taxi man is a better deal than a car, so we've opted to go without the car. Darren was able to do the other errands while I played with the girls on the beach making a motor boat. There were so many starfish, both alive and ones that had been washed ashore and died.

starfish
bicycle

We had dinner at the house then watch some home videos to have an easy night. We were all showing signs of being pretty tired (rambunctious kids, easy tears, quick agitation etc.). Hopefully the three-hour time difference won't be an impact.

05.13.2006

Mauritius: Day 2

We slept in until 8:30 am today. It's the first time the girls have ever slept past 7:00 am, of course, it was actually 5:30 am Namibian time, but it felt good. I like flying east. I took the girls out on the beach this morning to allow Darren time to do internet work-he rented a bike and rode to a place a couple of miles away. Dominique and I made a fort and we played sword fights. It took us a couple of hours to build it, and then we washed off in the water. While we were there, two girls (about six years old) came up to the fort and we thought they wanted to play with us. All of a sudden, they started stomping on the castle. We shouted "No" but they kept going, so I had to come out and shoo them away. I rebuilt the fort and Dominique and Annette went to see if they wanted to play. The father even acknowledged that the girls had destroyed the fort but didn't apologize. I couldn't believe how badly behaved the girls were, but it was even more surprising that the parents didn't make the girls apologize or apologize on their behalf.

After naps, Darren took Dominique to the beach and I played with Annette. She played some educational computer games and watched Muzzy. It's great to have these things. Dominique played on the beach and found some friends to play with, including the two bad girls (apparently only one was bad and the other followed).

We had a great stir-fry dinner and a great evening where both Dominique and Annette read to us, and then we watched some videos of the trip. Unfortunately our time-zone trick caught up with us because the kids didn't go to sleep until 10:00 pm. Ack!

05.14.2006

Mauritius: Day 3

Helen's birthday and Mother's Day today but we don't have a calling card to reach them. I was able to go for a short jog on the beach today since the girls slept until 8:30 am. I took the girls to the beach while Darren did some internet work. We made a space rocket, which looked very similar to the boat I made on our first day. Dominique is coming along really well with her swimming. She was a little nervous to swim too far because of the starfish and the sea urchins.

In the afternoon, Annette and I stayed in while Darren and Dominique went to the beach. I was able to do more work on the journal while Annette watched Muzzy and played computer games. We had a laid-back evening with dinner at the house, followed by a movie (and I kept working on the journal—I can't believe how much I've written). The girls stayed awake until close to 10:00 pm because their body clocks are still three hours behind.

05.15.2006

Mauritius: Day 4

The girls woke up at 7:30 am and drew me a picture for Mothers Day... it was actually yesterday but Darren forgot. I knew but it wasn't a big deal. In the past, I've always felt like I needed some form of relaxation, but I don't feel that here. It's not that we're doing too much relaxing since the girls are a lot of work, but I guess it's less stressful than work and home combined, so I'm not feeling tired. It feels great. Now if only I could find a way to live the rest of my life like this.

We called the taxi man and he took us shopping. First we went to a factory store where brand name clothes are sold at a discount. The clothes used to be made here, but now they've been outsourced to Madagascar because it's cheaper labor. I wonder where the outsourcing will ultimately end up. We got a couple of shirts for Darren and one for Dominique but that was it-I really didn't want things with American brands as we travel around (and I don't like to advertise for them anyway). We then went to the local market, which was just like the ones in Thailand, where we found Dominique some more clothes—she's growing out of some of the things I brought for her

After the market, we went to a factory that makes manioc biscuits. The factory uses the same manual process as they did when they started the business in 1870. The biscuits were very dry but decent with a cup of tea. They do export the biscuits but only to a handful of European countries where they are big tea drinkers. We went back to the guest house for lunch, and then I took the girls to the beach while Darren went to work on the internet. Good dinner, early bed.

05.16.2006

Mauritius: Day 5

The girls and I went to the beach while Darren went to work on the internet. I had to create a new sand castle model because the girls wanted a motorbike. It turned out pretty well and actually looked a lot like a jet ski and a snow-mobile, so I've got a couple more things I can make now. Some local fisherman caught some fish in a net right in front of us, so they gave the girls each a fish to play with. Then a guy came by in an ocean kayak and it turned out to be our pilot on our flight to Australia on Friday. The pilot (Anton) and his family are from Perth but now live on Mauritius. He gave us a lot of tips of what to do in Mauritius and Western Australia. Darren was able to meet Anton and his family in the afternoon, and he offered us a visit to the cockpit during the flight, which would be really cool. We had a laid-back afternoon with some homework and, a good dinner and another early night (not for me-I stayed up until 11:30 and finally finished the book I brought with me on the trip—Darren's read about ten books so far).

05.17.2006

Mauritius: Day 6

We split up the girls today to give them a break from each other. They're really playing well together, and we want to keep it going. Darren took Dominique to a crocodile park where she got to hold a baby crocodile and ride on a giant tortoise. Annette and I went to the beach where we built a car and played dozens of games. Annette has an amazing memory for movie clips, so she likes to play scenes from movies like "Shark Boy and Lava Girl", "Madagascar" and "Shark Tale". She'll tell me the words to say for one character, and she'll play the other, and we'll do the movie script for several lines. Since I hardly ever watch TV, I usually have no idea what she's talking about until she explains. In the afternoon, I took both girls back to the beach so that Darren could work on the internet. We played Frisbee with a friend that we met on the beach a couple of days ago; she can speak only French, but we had a good time together. In the evening, both girls did a great job reading (Annette "reads" the book from memory").

05.18.2006

Mauritius: Day 7

Our last day in Mauritius and I'm ready to move on. It's been great doing very little and catching up on some sleep, but Darren and I aren't really "Beach People" so a week at the beach is plenty. I took the girls to the beach early this morning to try to get some pictures before the sun became too intense. I got a couple, but that was it-it's tough to get good pictures here unless it's overcast because it's so bright. The girls and I spent the morning playing while Darren did some work. In the afternoon, Dominique and I played Frisbee and I pulled a muscle-how lame is that? The girls have really been getting into the educational computer games. It's great—they're having fun learning how to add numbers and do logic problems, and they're having a great time. The only down-side is that we're all fighting for time on the computer.

pensive-Annette
Annetee and the fisherman

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