Hot, Hot, Hot

15 03 2012

It is so hot here.

We’ve entered the long rainy season which means heavy, heavy downpours but also the hottest weather of the year.  Weird, I know.  One would think the rainy season would be cooler but it is most definitely hotter!

By 8 am when I go walking in the morning it is 29 degrees Celsius and by mid day it’s between 31-34 degrees with 80 – 90% humidity leaving us with a RealFeel of 40-49 degrees.

Within minutes of stepping outside, you begin to sweat – sometimes from places you wouldn’t expect to sweat from.  Because of this weather, one must be extra careful about what she chooses to wear.  There is nothing worse than standing up and looking like you’ve peed your pants.  White linen and cotton are generally pretty safe as are lululemon pants but you especially avoid any colour that will darken dramatically when moist.

By far, the best thing to be in is a swimsuit preferably at the beach or poolside – which is exactly what I might do this afternoon!





A Day in the Life of the Rich & Famous

2 01 2012

One of the few times we left our hotel in Mauritius was an excursion to Flat Island.  The owners of our hotel also have several watercrafts and rights to the ruins of a Governor’s house on a tiny island off the coast of Mauritius.  Anytime I read a review of our hotel, the guests were always quick to say, “DO THE FLAT ISLAND TRIP.  IT IS WORTH IT!”  So, we did.

We departed first thing in the morning on the hotel’s private catamaran.  We cruised for just over an hour before stopping off at an island right beside Flat Island to snorkel.  After half an hour there, the masses started rolling in.  Commercial catamaran after commercial catamaran packed with people started arriving and soon the ocean looked like a parking lot.  It was then that Joe and I looked at each other and thought, ‘This is exactly what we didn’t want.”  Luckily, almost immediately after, we left our catamaran and cruised off to Flat Island.

After a 20 minute walk, our guide directed us down a set of stairs and told us our bartender would be with us momentarily.  We reached the bottom of the stairs and it was like angels singing.  Bean bag beach loungers, parasols and a bar greeted us on this beautiful, white sand beach.  It was like an oasis on an uninhabited island.  Aside from the 5 of us and the bartender and chef, there was not a soul to be seen.  We swam, relaxed, drank and enjoyed absolute tranquility.  At noon, the chef came down to tell us our lunch was ready.

We walked up the stairs to the Governor’s House where tables were set for us.  There we were served wine and the most delicious fresh lobster all while overlooking the Indian Ocean.  Afterwards, we returned to the beach.  It was the PERFECT day.  We felt like celebrities as we were pampered, wined and dined.

**Yes, that is a lovely sunburn on my face – small price to pay.**





A Week in Paradise

26 12 2011

Mauritius is beautiful – plain and simple.

The colour of the water, the beautiful beaches, the charming people and their hospitality made it the perfect holiday destination.  As I mentioned before, Joe & I were really looking to relax this trip.  We’ve had a busy year full of ups, downs and travels so we were ready to head somewhere where we didn’t have to do anything but had the option to do something in case we got bored.

We stayed at Hotel 20 Degres Sud and it was PERFECT.  Again, we chose something on the smaller side as the last thing we wanted was a giant resort with music blasting and big buffet meals.  20 Degres Sud has 34 uniquely decorated rooms and it was beautiful, tranquil and subtly luxurious.  It was so great that we didn’t even really want to leave — so we hardly did and we don’t regret it.  Our days were filled with beach, books, drinks & food and instead of describing, I’ll let you see for yourself.

20 Degres Sud from the water.

Our room that also included a giant clawfoot bathtub overlooking the ocean and an outdoor, rainfall shower.

Our private terrace

Poolside

A glimpse of the beach.

Drinks

In Grand Baie





We’re Going to MAURITIUS!

7 11 2011

Joe & I try to spread out our holidays throughout the year as it’s best to take regular breaks from Gabon and the difficulties here.  We saved an extra week of Joe’s vacation days just for this purpose as we knew we wouldn’t be coming home for Christmas this year.  (Singapore was an added bonus!)

After our busy trips to Canada, South Africa & Singapore this year, we decided we needed something a little more relaxing to decompress from work for Joe and life in Africa for me so we decided Mauritius was the place to be.

Mauritius is to the right of Madagascar - the tiny little island that says "Port Louis."

Mauritius is a small island in the Indian ocean to the East of Madagascar.  It’s known for it’s luxury accommodation and rich culture as the residents come from Indian, African, French & Chinese heritage.  English is the official language however, French and Mauritian Creole are widely spoken as well.

Joe and I will spend 1 week in Mauritius taking in the sun and then we’ll fly back to Johannesburg and spend a couple of days there to stock up on anything we need in Gabon.  We’ll get home December 20 just in time for a Christmas in West Africa.





Have I ever mentioned…

1 11 2011

We have really nice beaches here?

 

Today is All Saints’ Day and a nationwide holiday.  (No Halloween though!)

Yes, while it was dipping below zero for our friends and family at home, it’s reaching above 30 here.

We played a little frisbee, snorkeled, found hermit crabs and had a beer.

Yup, while you are bracing yourselves for snow, we’re heading into some of the best beach weather of the year.

Christmas in Gabon anyone?





The Good

31 10 2011

Awhile back, another blogger that I follow did a series of posts on “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly” of living in India and it inspired me to start putting together my own list for living in Port Gentil.

So we’ll start with the GOOD.

  • The Beach – We have really nice beaches here, probably some of the nicest beaches we’ve ever seen.  Gabon isn’t developed for a tourism industry and I like that the beach is relatively untouched.  You can literally sit on the beach and feel like you have the entire place to yourselves, your very own little paradise, and it’s really the only place where one can forget about ‘The Bad” and “The Ugly” (coming later.)
  • Friends – Port Gentil is small, there isn’t a lot to do, life can be hard and all of that results in becoming quite close with people quite quickly.  I’ve mentioned before that your friends become your family here and that is completely true.  Plus, especially with the housewives, we don’t have anything better to do so we don’t have lists of excuses as to why we can’t get together or why we can’t help each other out.
  • Our Apartment – Seriously, we would never have this place in Canada and while it does have it’s issues, we have a pool and we are one block from the ocean and we don’t have to pay a dime for it!
  • The Weather – Aside from some torrential downpours here and there, we have great weather.  It’s always hot and it’s usually always sunny.  You don’t get seasonal affective disorder here because we don’t really have bad seasons.  It’s always summer and going to the beach on a January afternoon will never get old.

And there it is, ‘The Good.’

 

Stay tuned for “The Bad” and later on, “The Ugly.”





Day 1 to Now

9 06 2011

Sogara Club - lunch on the beach May 2011.

One gorgeous day, I joined some friends for lunch on the beach.  As we were sitting there enjoying the ocean, I reflected a bit on the time we’ve spent in Port Gentil and it reminded me of the first time I visited this restaurant.

It was Day #1 in Port Gentil, in Gabon and in Africa.  We arrived early in the morning and after stopping by Joe’s office and getting checked in to our temporary home at Hotel du Parc (which is no walk in the park,) Joe left me behind to unpack, sleep and ultimately, realise that we just moved to Africa!  He came home for lunch and suggested we head out to Sogara to eat.

I’m sure he took me there as after having my first taste of Africa, he wanted to show me the best part of Port Gentil, the beach.  The setting is picturesque; the sand, the water, the ocean breeze, waves breaking, shall I go on?

Before I continue, I must explain.  I’m afraid of birds.  Not deathly afraid like I’m scared for my life but I just really don’t like them.  I think they’re dirty and I hate them fluttering around me.  I blame this on barn swallows that swoop at your head.  Should you happen to be around me and a bird flies into my vicinity I will duck, even if it’s no where near my head.  I can’t help it.

We get situated and order our hamburgers when a few guests decide to join us.

Here I am trying to enjoy my first lunch in Gabon yet ducking every 5 seconds when another bird decides to join its friends.  I’m sure I looked crazy to everyone else dining outside.

And then, the lizards came.  Remember, this was my first day in Africa and I certainly wasn’t accustomed to lizards scurrying around.  There I sat, legs tucked up under me, dodging birds left and right and managing to get a bite or two of my hamburger in.

As I sat having lunch a few tables down from that first encounter 10 months earlier I couldn’t help but think, “My gosh, I have come so far.”