A Travellerspoint blog

Mauritius

The relaxing port

sunny 95 °F

October 18, 2009.
On the fourteenth, we arrived in Mauritius. We got off the ship, and hit the beach. We took a 20 minute taxi ride to Mon Shwazi, an amazing beach. This beach looked like it was on like a postcard. The water was so clear that we couldn’t even believe it. So we stayed there for the day. We even got to throw the baseball which we are never able to do! All in all, it was a great day.
On our second day, we were going to climb a huge mountain, but Eli had bruised his foot on the beach and it was still hurting him, so we didn’t go. Instead, we went to the botanical gardens of Mauritius. The gardens were huuuuuuuge. The best plant that we saw was these gigantic trees that were made up of many twisted branch things that come up from the bottom of the tree. Then, they had an animal section, and they had giant turtles, reindeer, and deer. The giant turtles were supposedly alive for about 150 years, but I don’t really know how anybody really knows that because nobody really is alive for 150 years, so how could they know it was that old?!?!? So, the next thing we did was go to the sugar museum which was about how the Indians were brought over as indentured servants to cut the sugar cane, and work the factories. The museum turned out to be sorta stupid because it was basically just telling you every single step of the sugar creation. It was kind of unnecessary for them to make us spend half an hour on every single step, and there was like 30 steps. At least at the end we got to taste the sugar. Some of it was disgusting like the Molasses sugar, but some was amazing like the gingerbread sugar and the coffee sugar. Everybody else hated the gingerbread sugar. So, other than that, we just went to the market, and I bought a little Buddha. I probably should have waited till Japan and China for that, but I just loved that one too much.
On our final day we went to the beach again, except this time, we went snorkeling. We went to this place called blue bay. It was a sort of closed off space from the ocean, with the waves crashing practically on the horizon line. We went in, and saw the most amazing things. I saw Puffer fish, eels, angelfish, fish bigger than my head and smaller than my eyes. We also saw beer bottles, shoe soles, and even a whole tire with an eel living in it. I got chilled really fast, so I only stayed in a few hours but Cy and Eli stayed in about the whole time we were there. It was a great way to finish up Mauritius, our best port yet, by far.
I liked Mauritius the best because we didn’t spend a lot of time doing boring stuff like going to museums or going on tours, or visiting buildings, and spent more time actually doing stuff. Their culture was great. It was very happy, and the only really bad thing that ever happened was the Indians being forced to be indentured servants.
So. Here’s how the ports rank so far.
1. Mauritius.
2. South Africa
3. Ghana
4. Spain
5. Morocco.
I’ll write again in India.

Posted by GabrielRR 03:28 Archived in Mauritius Tagged cruises Comments (0)

Mauritius

The relaxing port

sunny 95 °F

October 18, 2009.
On the fourteenth, we arrived in Mauritius. We got off the ship, and hit the beach. We took a 20 minute taxi ride to Mon Shwazi, an amazing beach. This beach looked like it was on like a postcard. The water was so clear that we couldn’t even believe it. So we stayed there for the day. We even got to throw the baseball which we are never able to do! All in all, it was a great day.
On our second day, we were going to climb a huge mountain, but Eli had bruised his foot on the beach and it was still hurting him, so we didn’t go. Instead, we went to the botanical gardens of Mauritius. The gardens were huuuuuuuge. The best plant that we saw was these gigantic trees that were made up of many twisted branch things that come up from the bottom of the tree. Then, they had an animal section, and they had giant turtles, reindeer, and deer. The giant turtles were supposedly alive for about 150 years, but I don’t really know how anybody really knows that because nobody really is alive for 150 years, so how could they know it was that old?!?!? So, the next thing we did was go to the sugar museum which was about how the Indians were brought over as indentured servants to cut the sugar cane, and work the factories. The museum turned out to be sorta stupid because it was basically just telling you every single step of the sugar creation. It was kind of unnecessary for them to make us spend half an hour on every single step, and there was like 30 steps. At least at the end we got to taste the sugar. Some of it was disgusting like the Molasses sugar, but some was amazing like the gingerbread sugar and the coffee sugar. Everybody else hated the gingerbread sugar. So, other than that, we just went to the market, and I bought a little Buddha. I probably should have waited till Japan and China for that, but I just loved that one too much.
On our final day we went to the beach again, except this time, we went snorkeling. We went to this place called blue bay. It was a sort of closed off space from the ocean, with the waves crashing practically on the horizon line. We went in, and saw the most amazing things. I saw Puffer fish, eels, angelfish, fish bigger than my head and smaller than my eyes. We also saw beer bottles, shoe soles, and even a whole tire with an eel living in it. I got chilled really fast, so I only stayed in a few hours but Cy and Eli stayed in about the whole time we were there. It was a great way to finish up Mauritius, our best port yet, by far.
I liked Mauritius the best because we didn’t spend a lot of time doing boring stuff like going to museums or going on tours, or visiting buildings, and spent more time actually doing stuff. Their culture was great. It was very happy, and the only really bad thing that ever happened was the Indians being forced to be indentured servants.
So. Here’s how the ports rank so far.
1. Mauritius.
2. South Africa
3. Ghana
4. Spain
5. Morocco.
I’ll write again in India.

Posted by GabrielRR 03:28 Archived in Mauritius Tagged cruises Comments (0)

South Africa

sunny 90 °F

South Africa is the largest country in Africa. They speak Afrikaans which is a sort of form of Dutch, they speak English and a few African languages. They are a pretty developed country, their population is growing into big cities, and their biggest city is Cape Town.

On October 3rd we pulled into port in Cape Town, South Africa. On our first day, we hung around until two o’clock when we went into an extremely posh hotel to Skype Eli’s family. The hotel was the only place that we could find to get good enough internet. So we talked to them for about half an hour (with some lady in this extremely fancy hotel playing a harp in the background) and when we were done, we realized that we had worn out our welcome in the hotel, and so we left. The hotel stopped letting any more Semester at Sea people go in that hotel after that (not just because of us). The rest of the day, we just walked around in the markets and just looked around the city until it was time to go back on the ship. South Africa is the world leader in murders, muggings, robberies, rapes…. everything having to do with violence. So we decided that we didn’t really want to stay out in the city after sunset, for some reason. Anyway, we had a pretty good day to sort of relax.

On the second day, we woke up and got ready to climb Table Mountain. We got on a bus, and drove to this gigantic mountain that loomed over the water. When we got there, we had to sign a sheet that stated that we were aware of every single danger possible to happen on this mountain. Bears, snakes, avalanches, alien abductions, gnome abductions and murders………etc. It also stated that we were not being forced to do this. Our parents signed that one for us. Hmmmmmmm……. So the climb started easy enough, but then, it turned into scrambling up rocks, and then pulling ourselves up with our hands to climbing up ladders and one step to the left being a 3,563 foot drop without a railing. Every time we thought that we had gotten to the top, we would act all triumphant until we would realize that there was another huge mountain on top of the one you just climbed. Finally, after climbing like seven mountains on top of each other, we got to the top and realized that since the clouds were covering the peak, we could see nothing off the top. After four and a half hours of climbing we could see nothing at the top. Oh well. At least we were able to climb it. So then, we took a cable car down. No we were not going to climb another almost five hours down. So let’s just say that the cable car was not the best for nauseous people it spun while diving downward and there was one section of the wall that was lacking of wall. There was just a bar. One bar it was a little scary how every few seconds, you would be looking at a nonexistent wall at an at least a thousand foot drop. So finally, we got down, threw up about a minute and then left. Then, we went out into the city. We decided to go to the aquarium which turned out to be a great choice. I saw so many kinds of animals that I had never seen before. I saw this kind of fish that was flat and would swim around in circles around its tank over and over and over again until Eli and I decided to pick a fish and bet on it. Eli kept winning. There was also a tank of clownfish that we could go inside because there was an opening in the middle of the tank with no water in it. All in all it was a great aquarium.

The next day, we got up and jumped on a ferry that would take us to Robben Island, the place where the political prisoners of apartheid were kept, most notably Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first president, and Desmond Tutu, their archbishop. They were kept in horrible conditions in the maximum security prison. They were tortured and kept isolated from each other. Until the seventies, they were never allowed to talk to each other even in the hard labor that they were doing together. Our guide of the place was a former prisoner, and I was so surprised when he said that he was forty-nine. He looked like he was at least sixty. That was because of the awful conditions he had to endure. So he showed us around the place. First, he showed us the isolation section, where they kept the prisoners that they wanted to punish most. (The most radical anti-apartheid people.) These people were kept in tiny cells by themselves. They were given one bucket of water, one meal a day, and one blanket to roll out the blanket on the ground for them to sleep on. They endured horrible conditions. Then, he showed us the section where he was kept. In this section, there were about seventy five people being kept in this tiny room. Until the eighties, they slept on blankets on the floor. Then, he told us what he had done to get in to jail. This man had gotten angry about the education, so he protested it and fought to improve the education for blacks in South Africa. But what he actually did to get in jail was that he planted a bomb next to a police station. I guess there comes a time when you have to avert to violence and that is what he did. So he was sentenced in 1987 to eighteen years in jail. He only ended up having to spend four of those, because all of the political prisoners of apartheid were released from jail in 1991. He said that he couldn’t even describe the feeling he had when he got out. That he couldn’t even believe it. He didn’t believe it until he was on the ship going back to Cape Town. Maybe not even then. He couldn’t believe it until he was finally back at home. So after we took the ferry back to the city, we decided to go to the South African museum and then Jewish museum. (We’re Jewish). The South African museum had lots of cool dino skeletons and cave paintings from the ancient African people and lots of stuff about the Bushmen. The Jewish museum had really old South African torahs and shofars and all of that kind of Jewish stuff. So we went back to the ship and got ready for the next day.

On the second to last day in South Africa, we went to visit the Amy Biehl foundation which is named after an American woman that visited South Africa and was stabbed to death by anti-apartheid protesters. The four men that killed her went to jail, but two of them got out because Amy’s mother and father felt that they had paid their debt to humanity, and that they were truly sorry for it. They also felt that the reason that these people had done this was because the government had not given them a real education, and they just had no choice but to revert to violence. They felt the other two were not sorry and that they had committed other crimes and so they were actually criminal. So the parents started a foundation so that the other South African kids would not have to revert to crime like that when they were older. So, we went to three different schools with this group of Semester at Sea people, and the schools each performed for us. The first one performed African dance for us with their teacher drumming. The second one, they did the same thing, but I swear I saw the best kid dancer I’ve ever seen. In the last school, the kids played marimbas and brass, and danced, and I’ve never seen such good marimba players in my life. So we went home, and went to sleep for our last day in South Africa.

On our last day, we got a taxi that took us out of Cape Town and around the coast. First he took us to a bird sanctuary. I swear I’ve never seen such weird birds. There was a bird that’s call sounded like a stomach grumbling, a bird that talked, and even turkeys that had noses that hung over their gobble, and every time they gobbled, their nose flapped at us. They also had the smartest kind of monkey on earth, and bird that every time it made a noise, it jumped up and down, and it once said hello. It was crazy. Then, we went and visited a penguin colony in Simon’s Town. It was on a beach, and there were penguins everywhere. We had lunch there, and then we went to the top of Cape Point and climbed to the lighthouse. It wasn’t a hard hike at all, especially because all the baboons that lived on that mountain had been shooed off and thrown cookies so that they wouldn’t terrorize the climbers. There actually is a huge problem in South Africa with baboons breaking into cars and stealing things. So after we got to the top, looked off the view and came down, we went back to the ship, and the ship left South Africa.

Overall, I think the South African culture was great. It was friendly and I thought that the only thing that was bad about it was the violence. The violence rate is awful, well I guess you already knew that since I already said it’s the worst in the world. So also the one native language, called Kulu, is cool because they use all these clicking noises with the mouth while they talk. So. About apartheid. Before South Africa, we read a book in class called Out of Bounds. It’s about apartheid in South Africa, told by the point of view of the victims of apartheid, or sometimes the participants. The difference between South African apartheid and American segregation were that there were more races involved in South African apartheid. In South African apartheid, there were four different races. There were so-called “White” Indian” Colored” and “Black.” And they were by law ranked in that order. The whites felt superior to all other races, the Indians felt superior to the coloreds and blacks, the coloreds felt superior to the blacks, and the blacks were left at the bottom. By the book, I can tell that it has gotten a lot better, but I still saw that a lot of white people felt superior to blacks or anyone not white. Like when a white person saw a “black” person, or an “Indian” person or a “colored” person they didn’t get out of the way. They would just walk right at them and expect the person to get out of the way. O.K I’ll write again in Mauritius.

Posted by GabrielRR 10:12 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Neptune Day

Praise You o' god of the seas, King Neptune. I dump fish guts on my head, kiss two fish, and shave my head in your honor.

sunny 95 °F

On Saturday, we crossed the equator. Do you know what that means? NEPTUNE DAY!!!!!! Neptune day is the day that we worship the King of the Seas, King Neptune!!(Our captain painted green wearing a crown) We pay homage to him by….. getting fish guts dumped on you, kissing two fish, and shaving your head!!! Oh no. So when I got to the first station, I thought that it wasn’t really fish guts. I asked for an extra big dump. It actually was fish guts. Next, there were three people holding dead fish. You had to kiss at least two to become a shellback. Whatever that means, it’s good because they knight you and you get a shellback certificate. The third station? I passed. There were about 13 GIRLS That shaved their heads!!! One girl go half of her head shaved. Why would you do that? It probably won’t grow back for years! One guy got checkerboard on his head. That was actually cool. After I showered off the fish guts, we had to go back to school, and it was just a normal day for the rest of the day.

Posted by GabrielRR 01:45 Tagged boating Comments (1)

Ghana

Country of Obama's biggest fans, and land of best chocolate (other than hersheys)

sunny 93 °F

On Tuesday, we landed in Accra, Ghana. We woke up ate breakfast and went on a bus tour of Accra. We first visited the memorial of their first ever President, Nkruma. He was loved by the people so much that they didn’t even believe that he ever died. (His ideas live on.) It had tons of fountains that were statues of people playing trumpets and water coming out of the horn. Our next stop was a market that all of the people were going crazy trying to sell us things and chasing us around. Finally after about ten people that were chasing us gave up, we at last got back on the bus. Then, we went and had a Ghanaian lunch at a hotel. There was great food, especially the plantains. They were some of the best I’ve ever had. The only problem is that they ran out of food and so everyone had to wait forever. So after the almost nonexistent lunch was over, we went to memorial and home of the American writer, W.E.B Bois. We toured his house which was basically a museum. It was a little bit boring;; we went to the university of Ghana and looked around. We went into a bookstore, and bought a series of hilarious Barack Obama comic books. They show what they think is the story of his life. After we got home two and a half hours late, we went to bed and got ready for the next day.
At six o five AM, we woke up and went to catch a seven ‘o clock bus. We were headed for the slave dungeons. We went in and looked at the places that the slaves stayed. It was disturbing to learn about the conditions that the slaves had to endure. It was though, I think, a good experience, anyway. We saw the door of no return and the places where they were tortured. We saw the chains, and the room where bad slaves were kept. They were given no food or water and they would stay there until they died. We walked around in this place, realizing that all of these horrible things had happened right where we were. In the middle of the two slave castles we went to, we went to the weirdest lunch ever. First of all, we were not allowed to eat any uncooked food for fear of contamination, so that made it tricky when they served us a sandwich with lettuce, olives, pickles and some other weird veggie in it. Oh, and in the middle it had torn apart hot dogs in it. It was extremely strange. I was hoping that it was not the country’s delicacy. So after getting back to the ship two hours late again, we went to sleep, and looked forward to a sort of off day.
At around eight ten, we woke up to make an eight thirty breakfast. We hung around the ship until about noon, and then went out into the market. We ended up going back and forth between two stands that were right next to each other. We finally, mostly because the vendors were so nice bought from both of them. I bought an African mask African mask for ten cedis. We walked back to the ship and finally relaxed.
On our last day, we had to wake up again at six o five to make a seven o clock bus. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. So anyway, the bus ride we went on was to an African dance company. They taught us how to do African dances. There were two groups learning to dance with two different teachers. I was terrible like I am at all dancing. (I can’t just think of what to do right on the spot.) But when we were drumming, I was ok at that. Then, the drummers and the dancers played together and it was pretty fun. Mother was totally delighted the whole time. Apparently she had always wanted to play an African drum. She was smiling the whole time that we were playing, which was about twenty minutes. We also had about the hottest lunch ever. It was very good though. (Ooh this is painful. I’m fasting for Yom Kippur.) They had great plantains and chicken and rice and sauce and water and…. STOP!!!! ENOUGH!!!!!! Ok. Anyway. So after we left the dance company, we went back to the ship. We had dinner, and got ready for having Neptune day which would be the next day.
Over all, I liked the Ghanaian culture and people. They were all so friendly, and the place was so colorful. The people there loved Americans. They welcomed us to their country and wanted us to come back. The only real problem that I saw in Ghana was the traffic. It was completely awful. It was the worst that I have ever seen. Whenever they gave you an estimate of how long it would take you to get somewhere on the road, you would at least double it, most of the time about triple it. That is the main problem that they need to fix. Otherwise, this was the best country so far.

Posted by GabrielRR 01:38 Archived in Ghana Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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