Screwed by Screwpine

Between South Africa and India we enjoyed a stop on the lush and beautiful island of Mauritius, northeast of Madagascar in the calm and clear blue-green waters of the Indian Ocean. Only two days and one night ashore are nowhere near long enough to spend in such a tropical paradise, but we managed. We rented a car with fellow shipmates Becca, Courtney and Holly and headed for a beach villa on north side of the island. The owners of the villa complex remembered Courtney and Becca from previous Semester at Sea visits, and they hooked us up with the only grill in the place. We invited a bunch of shipmates to join us for a little grilling, swimming, and walking along the ocean. As Courtney said, we were all living inside someone’s screensaver.

Mauritius is a fantastic blend of many cultures. Its inhabitants come from Africa, India, and many parts of southeast Asia, and they bring their cultures, customs and religions with them. On a short night walk down the beach next to our villa, we passed a Hindu shrine with many devotees observing Diwali. Another 200 or 300 yards down the beach we encountered a group of muslim men performing a prayer ritual on the beach with lighted candles and little brush piles. It is inspiring to see a working example of devout people of many faiths living and working in peaceful harmony in a very small space.

In addition to culture and religion, people also brought their home menus to the island when they immigrated. It’s not called Delicious Mauritius for nothing. If you ever get a chance to visit, eat out as much as possible. We sampled fabulous Indian and Thai food. Others in our group bought beach-stand sandwiches and had this to say: “No joke, no exaggeration. This is THE SINGLE GREATEST SANDWICH in the history of my existence.”

The only real failure of our trip was an attempt at cooking breakfast at the villa. At the Super U grocery we accidentally bought a pancake mix labeled “Screwpine-flavored.” We’re not exactly sure what screwpine is, but it turns pancakes green and makes them taste like car air fresheners. The trauma of a morning wasted cooking and cleaning up after nasty cakes hit us doubly-hard when we realized that there was a crepe house just down the road. Ouch.

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