Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Still Wet and Windy

Although we're not technically in cyclone mode anymore, the wind and water continue to pound us. I was eating in a restaurant near the port today and water and waves crashed over the railing and into the restaurant. Here's a news photo capturing the waves -- particularly unusual because we're surrounded by a coral reef -- and typically don't get any!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Cyclone Gamede

In one of the most irritating 72 hour periods of our lives, we are currently under siege in our home – being pounded by rains and winds of up to 120km per hour. Gamede is a particularly slow moving cyclone – it ranged from Class 2 Friday to Class 4 overnight. We’re now half-way into Sunday – Steve’s had to spend the morning on the roof trying to sort out draining problems (before our bedroom becomes a swimming pool) and filling our generator so that we can have limited power, water etc. It’s supposed to pass through this afternoon but I imagine we’ll have our hands full with clean up for the next week(s) to come. Communications are down, our beloved Armed Forces Network dish was dismantled Friday – what to do? We’ve done quite a bit of cooking/baking and are all going to be cutting out some sugar cookies this afternoon to stave off boredom (and whininess!).

Liam mows down on one of the cookies (yes, shaped like the continental U.S. to remind us of home!)

Day out at Casela

One of our favorite places on the island, the Casela Bird Park offers something for everyone. We particularly like the petting zoo, where you can feed pigs, wild boar, deer, goats, and, on occasion, an albino wallaby. Lim’s favorite is wild boar – Cecile.

BBQ chez les Rydes

In honor of the newly hired Consular Agent for Seychelles, Travis, we hosted a BBQ for some forty colleagues. Lots of chicken, lots of “painkillers”, and lots of fun.

The Ambassador demonstrates expert technique for painkillers.

Recipe for painkillers:

4 parts pineapple juice

1 part coconut cream

2 parts rum

1 part orange juice

Blend with lots of ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg, a whole cinnamon stick, and a cherry!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Liam and his nannies

Liam is fortunate enough to have TWO nannies...one is with him in the morning before school, and the other picks him up after school. Here they are....Joanna and Clivie.

Joanna, Liam, Clivie

Farewell to Joey

A friend and colleague departed Saturday. The Ambassador hosted a paella dinner at his place in honor. Nice night out -- delicious food and yummy sangria -- which we would have enjoyed more had we not had to drive the hour home.

Joey and the Amb with the soon to be eaten famous paella.

Maha Shivaratre

Another big Hindu festival -- and call for a day off. This was the view all day long from my office window Thursday. Thousands of Hindus walk (sometimes for days) to a temple in the middle of the island and then return home in time for worship (and a day off) on Friday.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Chinese Spring Holiday

Liam's school is an international pre-school and, as such, is big on diversity and multi-culturalism. Right now, he's the only American at the school, but he's got kids from all over the world in his class. As Mauritius is a diverse and multi-ethnic society (Mauritians come originally from India, China, and France/England and practice a wide range of religions), the teachers try and expose the kids to a bit of everything.

Earlier in the year, he dressed up for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights (no, they didn't make the kids pierce themselves for Cavadee....). This week is the Chinese Spring Festival and the lucky little guy gets to wear this 100% polyester getup --direct from China!

Steve's 40th and our Vaco!

As many of you know, Steve recently turned a big 40! We spent a nice day out and about the town, exploring a colonial plantation and having a nice Mauritian-style lunch (in lieu of our planned catamaran trip -- it rained :(.)

As a special marker for the big day, this was his present -- an original painting by famed Mauritian artist Vaco. You can check out more of his work at www.vacoartiste.com. Cool stuff. He also happens to be our neighbor.

The painting represents Port Louis (bottom left) and le "coin de mire" -- the rock on the top right that's near our house. Plus, don't miss our friend, the red bird (it was a commission after all!).

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Le Waterpark

Is that really my dad?

Le Waterpark. Yes -- it really is called "le waterpark". Went today with a group from work. Liam adores it and it's a wonderful place to hang as a family. The best part is that it's not very crowded. Liam played, we relaxed -- a perfect Saturday (except who was doing the chores at home?!).

Steve's out tonight -- Six Nations rugby and England was playing. He's undoubtedly celebrating an England win!

Otherwise, nothing to report -- a quiet Sunday ahead. Next weekend is a four day -- so we've got to rest up!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mont Choisy Beach

Pete and Steve

Recently, some friends and colleagues got together on the beach for a farewell to a friend. Pete, Eileen, and Eleanor were able to join. Lots of good food, a beautiful sea, and friends made for a fantastic day! As you can see, Liam was enjoying himself (and yes, we are paranoid about sun exposure!).
Wendy and the Emb kids

Liam in full sun gear

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Crocodile Park

After witnessing Cavadee, we finally made it to La Vanille -- Mauritius' crocodile park. All sorts of cool things there -- crocs, monkeys, stag, reptiles, and TONS of tortoises. Hundreds -- and some over one hundred years old. Pretty cool.


In addition to being the day marking the abolition of slavery in Mauritius, February 1 was the Tamil celebration of Cavadee. Along with fire-walking and sword-climbing ceremonies, Cavadee is among the most spectacular Tamil events.

Devotees fast for days up to the ceremony, and then pierce their bodies (tongues, backs, and cheeks seem most popular) with skewers. These were BIG and long skewers. They then walk, trance-like and in penance, to the temple bearing the "Cavadee", a wooden arch covered with flowers with a pot of milk at each end of its base. This is given as an offering to the god. Family members walk alongside in support -- it was really amazing to see how many people were doing this. The most interesting part for us was that no one appeared to be bleeding, and walking around Port Louis the day after, no one had any visible scarring, bandages, or evidence that they'd pierced themselves the day before.

We hadn't actually intended to attend any of the many (hundreds?) of ceremonies across the island, instead opting for the more benign Crocodile Park. However, en route, we became "trapped" behind one of the many processions. We lasted for about forty-five minutes before finding a "shortcut" to the Park. One of the most amazing things we've ever seen during our travels.

Our Own Red Bird (A foddy?)

This bird lives on our cars and is absolutely in love with himself -- he waits for our return in the evening and hangs on the wing mirror, pecking at it, for hours on end.

New Year's Eve 2006

We had a wonderful day walking around the local beach and then spent a quiet evening at home!

We're back!

After a long hiatus, the Rydes are back and blogging. It's been a busy few months with the holiday season (we stayed put) as well as hosting guests. In November, we hosted Wendy's Peace Corp girlfriend, Erica, and her wonderful family and in January, Steve's childhood friend Pete brought his wife and daughter for a visit.

We've been busy with work but also have had some wonderful opportunities for play. Here are some photos....