Looking at Mauritius on a map, you would think it was a speck of dust. It is a small island off the coast off Madagascar (roughly 1,200 miles off the coast of the African continent) and it about 30 times the size of Washington DC. Apparently, our coming to Mauritius has increased the American tourist stat for their country by 10%. It is really a beautiful place, and looks like a screensaver.
When we docked, it felt like we were back in Hawaii. After having been to such similarly landscaped ports, it was refreshing to see green mountains covering the island. Raj, Amanda, Carly and I decided to travel for the day. We only had 8 hours off the ship since this port was just a pitstop to get fuel and to prevent cabin fever (we had been at sea for 6 days, and have another 6 until South Africa). Because we have been around SAS for so long, we all agreed we did not want to see anyone we knew while we were here (it is more common than not to see SAS in random side streets of cities in port. It is frustrating in a way because we want to immerse ourselves in the culture, but it makes it difficult when 20 other white kids are surrounding you the whole time.)
We found a driver who would take us to the west side of the island to Blue Bay. It was about a 40 minute drive, and the second we got out of the car it started to pour. We waited it out in a small beach hut for about 5 minutes, and while we were there, began talking to a boat company.
We hired a man to take us on his glass-bottomed boat for 2 hours in the bay. We rode over corals and schools of fish. We also got to see one of the three largest brain-corals in the world, and the only one in the Indian Ocean. We also allowed time to swim around in the water.
|We also found a starfish!|
We wanted to make sure we had time to get back to the ship, so we left Blue Bay around 2 and got back into town a little after 3. We shopped in a few souvenir shops and then took a water taxi back to the ship. Many SASers found Mauritius as their drunken spring break stop, so while in line many people were pulled out and drunk-tanked. Unfortunately for them, along with sitting in the drunk-tank they received 60-80 hours of docktime that must be completed in South Africa. No exceptions. Luckily, none of my friends were stupid enough to get belligerent, and as incentive for getting back early, they had another barbeque with hot dogs and hamburgers.
I really enjoyed Mauritius and wish we had had more time to explore. The main reason we were not staying the night is because the crime and assault rates are on Mauritius are on the climb. In previous voyages, SAS students were sexually assaulted, so to protect us, SAS made it a pit-stop only.
Since this post was so short, here are some happenings around the ship:
While onboard, students and faculty can sign up for a bridge tour. This means we get to see the control center of the ship and try on the captain’s hat. Ben and I signed up to go one afternoon and had about 6 other people in our group. One interesting thing that happened on our tour was there were two men standing watch with binoculars the entire time we are sailing (Doesn’t seem like a very appealing job) because we were going through pirated waters. We also had the chance to see a pod of at least 40 or 50 dolphins swimming by, and since we were at the front of the ship we had a great view.
Neptune Day is a maritime tradition when the ship crossed the equator. There are shellbacks- those who have crossed before- and pollywogs- those who have not. All of the pollywogs have to go through a ceremony to prove their loyalty to King Neptune and the sea before becoming a shellback. The ceremony includes:
1) Being Awakened at 7 am by King Neptune’s Court. (All of the cabin stewards walked up at down the halls banging on drums and in a special uniform)
2) Getting Fish Guts Poured onto You
3) Jumping into the Pool
4) Kissing a Fish
5) Kissing Neptune's Ring
6) Shaving Your Head (Don't worry; typically only the boys do this and it is not mandatory. There were a few brave girls who did, but not me!)
Here's Ben (who did shave his head!) before, during and after:
Neptune Day was probably my favorite day on the ship so far. Even after the ceremony and celebration in the morning, the entire ship is in a great mood for the rest of the day, and everyone has so much fun.
Make sure to check out my updated Favorite Photos page, because pictures from Vietnam-India have been added!