Mauritius: An Indian Ocean Jewel #Travel #MondayBlogs

Welcome to the next instalment of my “Road-Trip” experiences.

View from our beach hut

View from our beach hut

Hubster and I were lucky to be able to honeymoon in Mauritius and it was the only time I could tie him down to a beach based holiday, where he didn’t hire a car. With a June wedding we then headed to the summer hemisphere in their autumn, a twelve hour flight had us arriving at the airport which is found in the south east of the island. We were greeted in arrivals by a swarm of eager baggage handlers, grabbing our bags and taking them only a short distance to a waiting mini-bus, welcome to Africa.

We’d booked a hotel at Trou-aux-Biches (sounds great in French, the English translation is mouth of bitches!)  It’s on the north of the island and settled down to a long ride, passing sugar plantations and the capital Port Louis as we dropped other passengers off at different hotels. The wait was worth it, we had a straw thatched hut on the beach- front. We shared this with geckos and one night a cockroach.

For a week the hubster prowled the beach, pool and gardens, we took a pedalo out to the reef where we got it stuck for a while and another time we booked a glass bottomed boat tour around the bay. We hired bicycles and rode to Grand Baie and walked along the beach to the local supermarket for affordable drinks and snacks, our package included breakfast and evening meals but no lunch.  One of my favourite foods was delicious vanilla tea and one of the best meals was a honeymoon special candlelit dinner with lovely fresh seafood.

After a week we had a phone call from a friend of a friend, who lived on the island. They offered to show us some of the sights, which was great as we had little money left for excursions after paying for the wedding. The wife of the doctor came with her driver/ body-guard, they explained that people of many faiths live easily side-by-side in Mauritius, however there were obvious restrictions to how the Doctor’s wife spent her days, the body-guard paid for everything and negotiated all our entrance fees to places. There were many unfinished homes with scaffolding left up for years, because only when a house was finished did the occupants have to pay tax on it. They took us to Grande Bassin a natural volcanic lake and place of religious pilgrimage, where cheeky monkeys competed for attention. Next we went to the National Botanical gardens at Pamplemousse home to giant lily’s and wide variety of palm trees. Another day they took us to Ile aux Cerfs with its beautiful beaches and our final trip was to a Giant tortoise and Crocodile nature reserve without them we would have missed much of the local flora and fauna and it was great to see a place from the POV of those who lived on the island, rather than just from the tourist perspective.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next week, New Zealand with a nine month old child.

Igboland by Jeff Gardiner @JeffGardiner1 @crookedcatbooks #bookreview #Africa

IgbolandIgboland by Jeff Gardiner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Igboland is an African historical story. It’s set in Nigeria in the late 1960’s at a time of civil conflict. Nigeria had up to 200 tribes and internal politics were immense. The conflict boiled down to a war for power, oil and tribal dominance. This is not a true story, but one made up around facts of the time.

Into this dangerous situation went Reverend Clem Davie and his 19 year old wife Lydia as missionaries. In July 1967 they settled into their new home, the Methodist compound in the village of Ngkaluka amongst the Igbo people in this West African country. The village had recently been bombed and the couple immediately helped the villagers rebuild their lives. They worked with local Dr Kwento Umuwezie and were helped by other white settlers.

Clem’s role was to oversee many local churches and schools, while Lydia struggled with the African living conditions and climate. She was very interested to learn about the local Igbo culture and religious spirituality which varied from the western civilisation and one god religion.

Lydia began to question the role of a missionary;

” They think we offer an escape from poverty and sickness, but we really just take them away from their tribal culture.”

As the conflict increased around them making travel near impossible Lydia found that the tribal instincts ran deep and that any white man who got in the way only had himself to blame.

There were many occasions when the Africa fought back, the Igbo explained that they had a 4 day week and the white man’s 7 days, didn’t fit with their own language, they only had four names for days. Servants let them down or stole from them. they had a saying WAWA – West Africa Wins Again to explain away some of the hardships.

Clem’s determination to help increased as the war continued and he went off on missions with Charlotte to rescue Igbo’s, putting his life at risk. They helped a young woman called Grace who had been brutally attacked and she became a good friend to Lydia, helping set up a local clinic with the help of Dr Umuwezie.

In the end WAWA when both Lydia and Clem returned to England short of their 6 year contract due to different reasons, but it wasn’t the end for them either.

I’d never heard of the Igbo and was interested in their spiritual beliefs. They root in very ancient times. Sadly you can see that the fight for dominance by man causes conflict and suffering as people lose their freedom; freedom to live, freedom to worship, freedom to love.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Rosie’s Avid Readers #RBRT African Me and Satellite TV by Jo Robinson

Rosie's Avid Readers

Rosie’s Avid readers are people who like reading and have a book to tell us about, they are the voice of a friend who says ” I just read this book….”

18485066

Avid Reader’s thoughts.

I shall never forget this book, so many points of view so wonderfully expressed.  It asks history should we have gone there? Should we try to put our values & customs onto people who have no idea what we are talking about? I think back to my childhood in Sunday school where we were told what wonderful work the missionaries were doing, but were they?  Exploitation is a terrible thing, it still goes on.

This book shows deeply that all peoples evolve at different rates and the cultural shock of suddenly finding yourself several century’s in the future among people who think that you should think like them regardless is a disaster. It reminds us that we have no patience and cannot wait for others to catch up, then we move on again.  Lessons from the book are that the world is there not only should we look after it but we should also look after the people & not interfere for our own selfish lives. Other cultures may well need help to understand our cultures but not at their expense.

Book description.

For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens. Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.
After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And an unexpected hero changes everything. Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.
On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

We welcome recommendations especially from non-authors for this feature, and would love to hear from anyone who would like to leave a comment and follow the blog.

Rosie’s Avid Readers #RBRT The White Shadow by Andrea Eames

Rosie's Avid ReadersRosie’s Avid readers are people who like reading and have a book to tell us about, they are the voice of a friend who says ” I just read this book….”

13452752

Avid Reader’s thoughts.

The White Shadow     by Andrea Eames

Life in rural  Zimbabwe as seen through the eyes of Tinashe a young Shona boy.  Life is ruled by his father and local tribal traditions it is late1960`s but the guerrilla war does not seem to dominate their lives.  After the death of their parents Tinashe & his sister go to live in the town with their uncle. Life is different but although they thought that it would be better, bribary & brutality are evident.  Tribal traditions will take a long time to be eradicated and will it be for the good?  A very interesting read, which can help one`s understanding of life in Africa.

Book Description.

‘Look after your sister, Tinashe.’
Tinashe is a young Shona boy living in a small village in rural Rhodesia. The guerilla war of the late 1960s haunts the bushlands, but it only infrequently affects his quiet life; school, swimming in the river, playing with the other kids on the kopje.
When his younger sister, Hazvinei, is born, Tinashe knows at once that there is something special about her. Their life in the village, once disturbed only by the occasional visits of his successful uncle and city cousin, Abel, now becomes entangled with the dual forces of the Shona spirit world and the political turmoil of the nation.
As Tinashe, Hazvinei and Abel grow older, their destinies entangle in ways they never expected. Tinashe is prepared to follow his sister anywhere – but how far can he go to keep her safe when the forces threatening her are so much darker and more sinister than he suspected?
Andrea Eames weaves together folklore and suspense in this compelling tale of a boy struggling to do the right thing in an unpredictable world.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

We welcome recommendations especially from non-authors for this feature, and would love to hear from anyone who would like to leave a comment and follow the blog.

Rosie’s Avid Readers #RBRT Chasing The Devil by Tim Butcher

Rosie's Avid Readers

Rosie’s Avid readers are people who like reading and have a book to tell us about, they are the voice of a friend who says ” I just read this book….”

7940583

Avid reader’s thoughts

Chasing The Devil   ( The Search for Africa`s Fighting Spirit )  by Tim Butcher

Sierra Leone, Guinea & Liberia are very much in the news at the moment due to the Ebola crises.  This book written about a journey in 2009, is a background as to why the Ebola has taken over so easily ( not that the author would have known that this was to come.)

Tim Butcher a correspondent for the Daily Telegraph had spent time in various parts of Africa sending reports of Coups & Uprisings back.  While in Liberia he had become fascinated by Graham Green’s account of his “Journey Without Maps” through the region in 1935 and Tim decided that he would follow it.  So in 2009 this became a reality and after much research including finding a companion they set off from Freetown in Sierra Leone east to the border with Guinea where their walk started. Along the way there are descriptions of rural life & the countryside interspersed with details of history that affected the way of life, white man’s interference and many other interesting tit bits.  The walk continued through Guinea into Liberia, where there were differences in officialdom,  Liberia had never had a white ruling class and so the whole country has evolved slowly whereas the other two countries concerned had been influenced along the coast by Europeans & Americans which caused much internal friction. The Poro ( Witch Doctor ) have a great hold in the outback.

All good books came to an end but I could have gone on for ever reading this well written and extremely interesting account.

Book Description

For many years war made Sierra Leone and Liberia too dangerous for outsiders to travel through. Facing down demons from his time in Africa as a journalist, Tim Butcher heads deep into this combat zone, encountering the devastation wrought by lawless militia, child soldiers, brutal violence, blood diamonds and masked figures who guard the spiritual secrets of remote jungle communities.

On an epic journey that demands courage, doggedness and sheer luck, Butcher treks for 350 blistering miles through rainforest and malarial swamps to gain an extraordinary ground-level view of an overlooked region on the cusp of a remarkable recovery.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

We welcome recommendations especially from non-authors for this feature, and would love to hear from anyone who would like to leave a comment and follow the blog.

 

Guest Authors Andy Robinson and Kirsty McGregor (Nov 29th)

My guests today are a writing duo who will open your minds to the idea of group travel across the world. Their book “It’s NOT a Holiday” is due out tomorrow (30th November) and is the most amazing and hilarious A-Z guide to road travel. A must read for anyone young or old who may be contemplating an adventure across the world.

It's NOT a Holiday! The A-Z Guide to Group Travel

Let’s go and find out more about them;

Andy and Kirsty in Rio de Janeiro

Andy and Kirsty in Rio de Janeiro

1) Where are your home towns?

Andy: I am from sunny Calne, a small market town in Wiltshire, the West Country of England. Although perhaps describing it as sunny is a bit of a stretch and is why I found myself working abroad for so long.

Andy Website pic

Kirsty: I grew up in Weipa, a small and very isolated mining town in Far North Queensland, Australia.

Kirsty1

Andy and I have been living in Calne for the last few years but we plan to immigrate back to Queensland next year; where it really is sunny.

2) Is this your first writing piece as individuals or together?

This is our first written piece to be published both as individuals and as a collaboration. We have both been writing individually for many years. When writing “It’s NOT a Holiday!” together we discovered that we approach our writing in very different ways and had quite different styles. It took a while and a few heated discussions before we found our groove – a way to write together and a style that we both agreed on. We got there in the end but we both agreed at the time it wasn’t something we would rush to do again. However, looking back on it now, the process was fun and we had lots of laughs remembering the stories from our time on the road.

 

3) Where did the idea for “It’s NOT a Holiday!” stem from?

We had the idea of “It’s NOT a Holiday!” for a few years before it came to fruition. On the first trip we worked together on, back in 2008 in South America, we realised we both had a love of writing and thought there was a need for a ‘survival guide’ for passengers travelling on group tours such as the ones we were leading. “It’s NOT a holiday, it’s a life experience…” is something we often told our passengers when explaining how they could get the most out of their trip.

We threw a few ideas around and made notes whilst sitting round the campfire for a bit of fun but it wasn’t until we were off the road and working in France for the winter that we fleshed out the ideas and put pen to paper.

 

4) You’ve both been guides or drivers on tours, can you tell us where in the world these were?

EOE truck in Rio de Janeiro

EOE truck in Rio de Janeiro

Andy: Ten years ago I decided to throw in my job and travel through Africa on an overland truck… and that really was the end of normality for me. I have specialised in long haul trips throughout the Middle East, Iran, India, China, around South East Asia and extensively throughout Latin America.

Kirsty: I was travelling independently in the Middle East when I stumbled across a group travelling overland on a big truck to Egypt. I loved the idea and signed myself up for a six month trip from London to Cape Town. I had a ball and decided that becoming an overland tour leader/driver was the perfect way to see the world and get paid for it. Since then I have been lucky enough to work in Africa, Europe, Central & South East Asia, Central & South America and Australia.

Kirsty with Pakistani Police

Kirsty with Pakistani Police

 

5) What’s the longest road trip you’ve taken people on?

Andy: Driving from Istanbul to Bangkok in 7 months was one of my longest road trips with passengers. However, by far my longest road trip would be driving from London to Mongolia and then back in a small 1 litre Ford Fiesta. Great fun!

Mongolian Sand trap!

Mongolian Sand trap!

Kirsty: An 8 month trip from London to Sydney was my longest trip. I took 32 passengers through 3 continents, 23 countries and had a blast. Of all my long haul trips, this one was the most diverse in terms of the landscapes and cultures I experienced along the way.

London to Sydney trip (Tibet)

London to Sydney trip (Tibet)

Our longest trip together was the one we met on – Mexico City to Rio de Janeiro.  A 7 month trip travelling through 17 Latin American countries ending up at the biggest party in the world, the Rio Carnival.

 

6) What’s the worst terrain to take trips over?

There are lots of different terrains that can be difficult to drive through – soft sand in deserts, muddy roads in jungles and city roads packed with trucks, buses, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians, horse and carts, camels, donkeys, goats and just about any other beast you can think of. But the terrain we enjoy the least is mountain passes – proper mountains, the Himalayas and the Andes. Driving at altitude means thin air, a hard time breathing and headaches. Not fun! Although to be fair the views are fantastic.

Bogging!

Bogging!

 

Pope 7 Pantanal Bogging

Pope 7 Pantanal Bogging

7) Can you list 5 packing essentials for any road trip?

Head torch

Toilet roll in a plastic Ziploc bag

Cash

Multi-tool with knife and bottle opener

A sense of humour

Not necessarily in that order…

 

8) What are 5 items that people REALLY don’t need, but think they do?

Micro fibre towel

Expensive sunglasses

Trekking trousers with daft zip off legs

Traveller’s cheques

6 month supply of toiletries – these can be bought anywhere, believe it or not showering is a worldwide phenomenon.

 

9) Tell us your own choices of BEST place to experience if you only took one road trip in your lifetime.

This is a question we get asked a lot. It is along the same lines of our favourite places we have travelled. It is so hard to answer because we have so many favourites for so many different reasons.

Andy: If someone was to do only one major overland trip in their lifetime I would recommend one through Asia – the history and sheer diversity of cultures is mind blowing.

Kirsty: For me it would be Africa. There is something magical about going on your first African wildlife safari.

A road trip we would like to do in the future would be in North America. We have driven the Pan American Highway in Latin America so would now like to do the northern section including Canada and Alaska. One day! West Africa and Madagascar are also on the list…

 

10) Tell me what attributes I need to get voted as “best guest” on one of your trips?

The perfect passenger is someone who has a sense of humour, a sense of adventure, a can do attitude and embraces everything with open arms and an open mind. They will also be the one who has the most fun!

Are you coming on a road trip Rosie? Well…. The North American trip appeals more to my sanitation fears and my son wants to go to Madagascar! You never know!

Twitter: Andy – @FlagonOfCider  Kirsty – @kirsty_oz  Black Frog Publishing – @TheFrogFather  It’s NOT a Holiday – @ItsNOTaHoliday
Buy books:
Direct from our website – www.blackfrogpublishing.com/Books.htm
A Big Thanks to Kirsty and Andy and Good Luck with the book launch, I know it will be a winner!

Guest Author Jason Wellnitz

Please give a big welcome to Author Jason Wellnitz who has kindly agreed to come along today. I first read Jason’s book “A River Way Home” several months ago, I was so impressed that it made it in to Fleet Life as one of “Rosie’s Good Reads”. Here is a reminder of my review;

River Way Home

River Way Home by Jason Wellnitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a deep story that pulls at your heart-strings. The story of an orphan and how he meets two wonderful parents. Then they are tragically taken from him. He battles with what he has been taught about God and makes his own life. He tells us the full tale of his life as it flows down the river.

Let’s learn more about Jason;

1) Where is your home town?
I grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, USA. Waterloo is the place where most of the green John Deere tractors in the world are made. It’s next to the Cedar River which flows into the Mississippi.
2) What inspired you to write “River Way Home”?
In 2011 I travelled to Mozambique with my father-in-law and some others on a short-term mission trip to work with Food For the Hungry. On that trip I met a few people who had amazing life stories. For a while I tried to write a non-fiction account of their stories. I wasn’t able to pull that off (yet) so eventually I started a short novel that was set in Mozambique. I also wanted to put some of my hometown into the story so it’s partly set in Iowa and partly in Africa.
3) The story travels to Mozambique, have you ever been there? Can you tell us 5 great things about the country?
There are so many great things about Mozambique! Here are a few
– There are children everywhere. Fifty per cent of the population is under 15!
– The singing and dancing there is joyous and straight from the heart. 
– Cynicism is rare. 
– The coast along the Indian Ocean is beautiful at sunset.
– The large animal population (elephants, lions, etc.) is growing again.
– The Zambezi River is stunning.
4) How does the title of the book link to the orphan Halkeno?
I’ve often thought that our lives are like rivers. Sometimes we’re in the centre current where we should be and sometimes 
we’re too near the shore. I used the metaphor of the river as the centreline of the book. Halkeno’s river (life) takes many twists and turns but in the end he finds his way to his true home. (Note: there is a real man named Halkeno and his story is more amazing than the story I tell in the novel. I hope he lets me write it someday.)
5) One reviewer of your book says it’s written in the style of an African Folk Legend, that’s a great honour! Has your love of a good tale inspired your Kickstarter project?
Thank you! I appreciate my reviewers very much (including, and especially, you Rosie Amber). Its an honour to have someone take the time to thoughtfully write about your creative works. 
I had an idea where I wanted to have the main character in a series of short novels travel to each state in the U.S. The Kickstarter project came out of my desire to find a way to get people to “vote” for which state I should start with. I thought that people could “vote” by donating $5 or donate more and essentially pre-order the book. It was a way to involve more people in the creative process.
6) Tell us a bit more about what you hope to achieve in this new project and how you want people to get involved.
I will be the first to admit that a Kickstarter project for an unwritten novel is a bit odd. What I’m *attempting* to do is:
– Get some feedback on the idea so I can be relatively sure the idea isn’t dead on arrival
– Get people excited about choosing the state in which the first novel is set (I know, I know, this isn’t a very “global” project. Very U.S. focused. My next series should be Thirteen Shires Of Peace)
– Build some buzz for the launch of the series later this year
– I would use the funds that were raised primarily to hire a professional copyeditor and promote the book upon its launch
I’ve already had some great feedback about the idea and the intro I’ve written. I know need to change the working title and rework the cover a bit.
7) Do you have a time scale that you’d like to work to for the first drafts?
In the Kickstarter project I say I’ll have the first novel done by the end of December. That would mean the first drafts need to be complete in the next 6-8 weeks.
8) What can readers do to help you promote the project?
If your readers think this project could be a good series the best way they could help would be to donate to the Kickstarter project here: http://t.co/J85dlZApRc
If they thought the idea was good but needed some tweaks they could contact me via my website: http://jasonwellnitz.com with suggestions.
Jason Wellnitz In Mozambique
Thank you Jason, anyone interested in more information about the Kickstarter project should contact Jason directly, Good Luck with the new writing!