Published: June 18th 2012June 18th 2012
Time for another update: So, my life over here is in full swing now and I’m nearing the half way point! Work is much of a routine, but the early mornings are getting easier (I doubt they will be as much fun in theUKwhen it is cold, wet and dark), and work is ticking over quite well. The arrival of two volunteers to the field station eases the work load, even if it does increase the amount of loud chatter in French, of which I hardly understand a word and just excuse myself most of the time. On the plus side, this means I get a lot of reading done though, even venturing into the classic literature – secure in the knowledge that I will read it all intently, simply for the fact there is little else to do.
In terms of work then, the most developments recently have occurred in the Olive White Eye population. After a very successful start to the off season with 6 new fledglings (with a population of only 27 at the time this was big news, especially when the birds weren’t expected to be breeding at all. However, this rapidly went down
hill after the death of 3 birds in feeding stations, and the demise of another fledging after it was blown out of a tree on it’s first day out of the nest and promptly attacked by shrews. Despite being installed at field station hospital with feeds every 3 hours and lots of nursing, it died in my hands a few mornings later and then was unceremoniously post mortemed on our veranda within the hour. After these deaths and a couple of nest failures it can seem a bit disheartening, especially when combined with the fact that our Fody eggs all seem to be infertile and we are not reaping the benefits of chicks and fledglings, after weeks of being rushed off our feet. Still, we hope that this will improve in the next couple of months; onwards and upwards! Breeding is slowing down a bit, thought the male Fodys are still showing off their red plumage! With the arrival of new Mauritian volunteers though the work load is eased a bit and we can spend time focusing on other stuff, like consumption work and re-designing the birds’ feeding stations! We also had the excitement of dealing with a white tail
tropic sea bird for a week. Stinky Pete was presented to us in a cardboard box, complete with his own bowl of smelly Octopus, which we had to shove down his throat 3 times a day! This carried on for over a week, with us hoping he would fledge and fly on to pastures new after he was found thin and ill on a road, however, I am sad to report after finding him upside several times and lots of twitching displays we came to the conclusion that he either had neurological damage or had been poisoned and so was unfortunately put to sleep. Which was a shame really; we had all become quite attached to him… despite the smell.
So for the humour that is living inMauritius. There certainly seems to be a lot of faff – but I suspect this is more to do with the fact that things are quite relaxed and so nothing is ever quite finalized the way I am used to at home. Plans change at last minute, and communication is often a bit poor. An amusing incident (for me, the spectator, at least) involved the arrival of a hire car,
an airport, and a phone call with the gentleman shouting utter nonsense down a phone. In all honest, they weren’t even real words in any language – a conclusion met by both of us after passing the phone between us in several times. However, from the ‘BLAHBLAHBLAH’ it was agreed that we would drive around the airport and look for him and his car (which was white and he was standing outside of). Half an hour, and still no sign of him (I should hasten to add how small this airport car park is, god forbid I ever encounter such a saga at Gatwick…). It was at this point that a seemingly helpful taxi driver, assisted and spoke to the man in Creole, and instructed us to wait for the man with the hire car. The spot which he had deemed appropriately visible for us to be found was right on the edge of a junction. Still no sign of man with car. An hour later than planned, it eventually transpired that the reason he had been stood outside his car, was because the tyre had a puncture, and he was infact stood outside of it, in a village, however
far away from the airport. Something that evidently, no one felt worth mentioning to us.
Other anecdotes involve hauling our sunken boat on to the beach. I was informed that reason we had found it bobbing quite merrily below the surface, alongside the jetty in the morning was because many some tourist and come and loosened the screw that prevented water getting into it. What was never explained to me (and I felt it unhelpful to ask) was quite why there was a massive hunk of coral rock on the bottom of the boat weighing it down in the first place, prior to the slow sinkage. A correlation between these two factors would seem to have been a surprise.
This afternoon we went to see a waterfall. It involved being herded and then led by a seemingly drunken gentleman, who insisted on leading the way and holding our hands as we clambered down rocks, despite many protestations. He then insisted on taking a photo of us (swaying from side to side and getting a particularly splendid one of the ground in the process), before trying to charge us for the privilege. He got told where
he could shove that idea. In contrast to that experience I am pleased to report a good weekend, with an evening of dinner and cocktails, followed by the market on Sunday morning. See as I am now at the half way point I feel it suitable to start doing some shopping for myself, and so have jumped on the harem-trousers-band-wagon. Something which I think are awesome here, but may well get me some funny looks at home.
To report more weekend activities since the last up date, I have also visited the Chamarel rum factory – not much to report in terms of the factory, a lot of good things to say about the large amounts of free samples they were handing out though. After over 10 samples later, we all headed home a bit giddy. That even we then had a themed ‘Killers’ party to mark a birthday and the leaving of a member of staff, so the island girls came kitted out as pirates – complete with tin foil daggers and eye liner stubble. This also involved more rum – I’m sure you can all see a theme developing the longer I stay out here!
However, to balance out this high rum consumption I would like to argue that I am now working every other weekend so this is probably an unfair representation of how I spend my time. We also climbed up Black River Peak, the highest point in Mauritius. Definitely an experience, which involves scrambling to the peak whilst just clinging on to a metal chain with a sheer rock face below – I did not want to loose my footing! Fantastic views too, however, as we reached the peak clouds enveloped us and we had very little to show for our efforts! Other than this my spare time involves lots of beach and sea time. Despite my best efforts to top up my tan I am still referred to as ‘Snow White’ by some at the field station, so my intention to return to the UK blonder, slimmer and more tanned is slowly dwindling… I leave you all with that thought! Again, I will try to give more regular updates, especially seen as I am now at the half way point! Hope you are all enjoying your summer! Lots of love, as always. Jenny x
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