This week marks three months since we landed in Mauritius. In many ways I feel well-settled. André has started going to a preschool three times a week and that has given us some structure and routine to our days. I’ve been gaining confidence driving around Mauritius and that has afforded me some independence (the driving here could be the subject of an entire blog post, it’s nuts!). And I’m slowly finding my own way around, becoming familiar with nearby towns and neighborhoods, local eateries and shops. But we are still living downstairs with my in-laws while our new house above is being completed (it’s so close! More on that later), so our current routines are temporary and when we eventually move upstairs we will have to create a new normal that works for our unit of three, but also figure out how to balance that with time with the extended family.
I’ve neglected this blog for a while now, mostly because I became busy with work at Farmcity, the organic farm business my brother-in-law and his wife founded. Right around the time I published my last post, Farmcity and the Unlikely Farmers, Wes and Kelly asked me if I’d be interested in joining their team to work on their agrication program. Namely, they wanted me to help develop curriculum and facilitate a school holiday program for six- to ten-year-olds. So, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 6 weeks or so. It involved a lot of driving to and from the farm, a commute of about 40 minutes each way across the most scenic landscape this side of the planet—a dramatic mountain range with sheer rock cliffs, quaint and colorful villages nestled at the foot of the mountains, and a sea of green sugar cane fields rolling down the plateau to the azure blue ocean below. Once at the farm, and in “animator mode”, my job was to take young minds on a journey of discovery, an exploration of the natural world around us (the creatures that live within it—including ourselves—and the roles that they/we play), introducing them to concepts such as biodiversity and sustainability, and awakening in them a consciousness of where our sustenance comes from and how we can contribute to an equitable food system. We had several groups (we called them the “Munch Bunch”) go through the program and in the last week we hosted a special “Mini Munch Bunch” group with three year-olds. Overall the program was a huge hit and I had so much fun animating the groups, but it was also utterly draining (how do teachers do it all year round!?) and left me with no energy or enthusiasm for keeping up with the blog. Now that school is back in session, and Wes and Kelly will be busy traveling through September, the agrication program is temporarily on hold.
Oli is currently in Singapore on a business trip and he’s away for two (long) weeks. It’s the first time he’s been away from us since André was born. I’m grateful to have my in-laws here to help keep an eye on André when I need to take a break or do something necessary like, you know, shower! I honestly don’t know how I would cope for two weeks alone with Andre with no assistance or adult company. While Oli’s away, I’m in charge of the work on the house, liaising with the contractor and various workers and purchasing fixtures. Major work left to do on the house includes the kitchen (the cabinets, fixtures, and countertops) and the floor-to-ceiling built-in media center in the living room. Outside, the balcony still needs a roof, balustrades, and a stairwell from the front garden below. Most of the large furniture items have been delivered, almost all the lights are in (and we have electricity), we have running water, and the window dressings are ready to go up (as soon as the interiors have received their final coats of paint). We are so, so, so close and yet I’m not optimistic about meeting our end of September deadline. My parents arrive early October and I’d like for them to stay with us upstairs while they’re here. In all likelihood, I think we’ll move upstairs and camp out in a partial construction zone, using it only as sleeping quarters and have our meals downstairs. It’s not ideal, but these things can’t be rushed (especially if you want a decent job done…).
Besides the work at Farmcity and the construction work upstairs (and shopping for fixtures and furniture), I’ve been spending some time making new friends. Oli and I are fortunate to have made friends with a lovely family of four that live within walking distance from us. Like our family, dad is Mauritian and mum is an expat (she’s from the U.K. originally) and they moved to Mauritius from the U.S. earlier this year, only a few months before us. In more ways than one, they paved the way for our own move to Mauritius and I will forever credit them for our smooth transition—we used the same shipping company they did based on their positive experience and subsequent recommendation, and they gave us insight into the residency permit process which I had to go through when I arrived in Mauritius (the process is ongoing!). Their oldest son is about 10 months older than André and they attend the same preschool, on the same days, and we also have play-dates most weeks so they see a lot of each other and have become fast friends. It’s the sweetest thing, watching André follow around his new, slightly older, friend, copying his every move and mannerisms. Fortunately mum and I have also hit it off and it’s gratifying to have someone to talk to that is going through many of the same things as I am. We have a shared experience of being expats in Mauritius—white, female expats at that—and we often take note of the same things that strike us as odd or comical about life here, but also the things that we both struggle or grapple with. Through this family we have met several other equally lovely families and our circle of friends is slowly growing. It makes for a rich and joyful life on the island.