As I start writing this, I’m currently stuck on the island of Mauritius down by the southern end of Africa and cannot return until Tuesday the 4th.

This trip was planned about a month ago, then on August 16, the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch, Abune Paulos died, leaving the country in mourning.  Then 4 days later, the Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi died causing a ripple in the government which spilled out into the streets.  We were scheduled to fly back to Addis on Sept 1st, but because of the massive influx of people flying in and out for the funeral, along with a few demonstrations at various points in the city, and add the traffic, both foot and vehicle, it would have been a nightmare to return at that time.

When the head of a church dies, there is sadness and mourning imbedded in the prayers of the people. When a leader of a country dies, there are mixed emotions throughout the populace.  I found it most interesting to get opinions of some of the local people who grew up in Addis.  One individual told me he was a despot who murdered women and children.  I reluctantly listened to him, and was unsure how accurate his beliefs were, because all leaders of a country who are hated, “kill women and children”.

Some said he did good because he helped drive out the Communist back in the 90’s.  One simply said, it’s neither good nor bad but the will of God.  Either way, I’m stuck here until Tuesday.

So we decided to move to a resort further up on the coast of the island, since we were through with our work and had Labor Day off.  We are having to pay a little out of our pockets because the price is slightly above per-diem, but we figure it’s worth it.

I have been to places that are in the crotch of the world, and places like this that it is a once in a lifetime trip for many.  So, as I sit here on my balcony writing this, I’m listening to the waves of the Indian Ocean, literally a stone’s throw away.  One of my co-workers commented last night, people in the States save their money for years to vacation in the places we work at.

While here on Mauritius, I take advantage of the beef in the country.  In Addis the beef is tasty but tough.  Here on the island, the beef is flown in from South Africa and is grain fed like in the States.  So I make sure to get my belly full of tender beef while here.  Also, in Addis, fish is flown in since the country is land-locked, but here, it’s fresh.

The first morning we were here, I sat in the open air lobby after breakfast checking email.  The waitress from the little bar nearby brought me some little cheese chips to munch on along with my drink.  While seated, a little fathered creature flew onto the table and quickly plucked one of the chips out of the cup and disappeared.  This took place so fast, I was unsure what it actually was.  Afterwards, I heard a tapping sound near my feet, and looked down and saw the thief banging the chip on the floor to break it into smaller pieces.

So, I set a chip out on the edge of the table, already broken into beak-sized portions and waited with the camera of my cell phone.   Within seconds, another critter showed up and took the bait, as seen below.  Afterwards, I sat back in the chair reading email and casually had my hand hanging down off the chair with the chip I was eating, when it too disappeared from my fingers.  The little thief!

During the day, we decided to go further north about 10 kilometers to the little resort town of Gran Baie and be tourists.  I bought a few items for my wife and we ate at some of the outside dining areas.  One thing I have learned while traveling to other countries, always be wary of anything that is placed on your table in a very small bowl, that is green.  Always taste it very carefully before indulging.  I should have taken a picture of one, but I think my camera would have melted.

The town is a resort area, but not the type you see many places.  The tourists are not the type you see walking around with enamored looks on their faces, with cameras and fanny packs hanging off of them, but mostly young people who look like they swam to get to the island.  No cameras and fanny packs, but sandals and backpacks.

We took a taxi from the resort we were staying at, but the $30 for the ten kilometer trip was too high for us, since they service the resort where many wealthy people stayed, they knew they could get those prices.  So, after doing that once, we found out we could walk a quarter mile and catch a bus to Gran Baie for 28 rupees (93 cents).  It took much longer, but it was also worth the sightseeing along the bumpy ride.

Remember a few months ago, I posted a picture on Facebook of two beautiful women I met on a beach on Mauritius?  I had the fortunate opportunity to visit with them again when their parents had a going away party since they were leaving the island for their next post.  Sam, the oldest, plans to be in the Marine Corps when she’s old enough and wants to be a surgeon afterwards.  She has taken full advantage of life on the island, even learning to dive in the waters and swim with the dolphins.  The little one with the curly hair, Ashley, wants to be a dentist.  She’s sure of it.  I had most fun talking to them.  These two little ones just love life.  Their little sister, Calley, was not feeling well and slept on the couch with her favorite book imbedded in her arms.

The continuation of life depends on our youth.  They are the ones who take over the society we hand them.  I only wish it could be better than when we received it, for I am convinced we have not done well.  But I remind myself at times that life is still good because kids are a part of it.  Island or no island, if kids are involved, life is always good.