Have you ever spent an entire week not knowing what time it was?
I'm on the flight back to Johannesburg and I just asked my exit-row neighbor what the time difference was between Mauritius and Joburg. Turns out its +2 hours (which means we're an hour further east of Baghdad - the MS Windows clock lists +2:00 GMT as "Harare, Pretoria" and +3:00 GMT as Baghdad - which is the same as Kampala, and the rest of Uganda, coincidentally). Turns out that this is the first time in 7 days it became important enough for me to figure that out.
Those of you who are familiar enough with my thoughts on the subject of time will understand the subtle irony and rather expected casual nature of a week without time. It was glorious.
Sans time, I fell into very comfortable patterns. I spent the first two days or so in Grand Baie - a tourist town on the north-west corner of the island, staying in a small B&B of sorts that I found via internet. It was comfortable, and conveniently located next to most of the major commercial stuff, and a short bus ride from incredible snorkeling (most of MRU is surrounded by a continuing coral reef, which makes for the most endless and incredible flat lagoons with little or no current to swim against - hence you might find yourself a couple hundred yards from shore and still an easy swim back). BUT, there was no surfing to be had over the reefs on the northern side of the island, which was my primary goal for the vacation. So once that was deduced I promptly had my host drive me south down the western coast to Flic en Flac, a smallish beach town on the south-western coast. Caught a half-board hotel across the street from the white-sands beach there, and set up operations.
Day 1 (Monday), after dropping my crap in the room, I rented a motorbike and drove to parts further south, finding surfboard rentals in the next town over, the go-to spot for kite-surfing a few towns beyond that, and the most incredible, remote, all but uninhabited white beaches and blue surf beyond that. Beautiful lonesome breakers, some spots with regular 7-10 footers, probably never ridden, but for the fact that there's nobody else out there, and reefs of death should you not ride your wave with sufficient skill. Beautifully fearful.
I spent Tuesday morning refreshing myself on surfing techniques - it had been far too long. The next couple days were a series of chilling on the beach (mostly with Bryson's A Brief History of Nearly Everything, and surfing / snorkeling around F&F. Then it was Friday and I took another motorbike to parts south. It broke down on me, and after a pensive hour and a half on the side of a lonesome road on the southern coast of the island, they showed up with another bike for me, and I shot back north. I spent the afternoon / evening surfing in Tamarind as the sun set behind me. It was the most beautiful sunset I never watched.
Today I woke up and took the bike south again, but this time with the disposable camera (my digital was stolen on my last day in Uganda, at a taxi-stand in Kampala, if I didn't make mention of it yet - it had most of my pictures from the week in northern Uganda on it, but I'm at peace with that, strangely enough). I filled up the camera with pictures of the coast, the greenery, and a couple of myself to prove that I was actually here. Had a hot dog and a last swim across the street from the hotel, then packed and was off to the airport.
I said no more than 3 words to anyone in 7 days who was not either being paid to associate with me (waiters, vendors, hotel staff, taxi drivers, etc.) or attempting to be (namely the annoying jewelry vendors on the beach - no, I don't wear jewelry...no I don't have a girlfriend to buy it for...LEAVE ME ALONE ALREADY...). It was an introvert's dream-come-true. Selfish, in some respects, but 168 straight hours of having no one to utter more than a few terse English words at but yourself? Heavenly.
The island is French-(well, really, Creole) speaking, which helped. Oh, and...note to self: if ever on what you've essentially planned as your honeymoon with your single self (novel idea, I know, but that is what this was), try to pick a slightly less European destination. There were a lot of bear female bosoms here, but only a couple of which were a pleasure to behold (mom would be glad to know). I think perhaps the more practical problem was the fact that I was on an island where so many couples come to escape. Before this plane left the ground, the kindly older lady to my right asked me where my girlfriend was. I politely lied "in the future."
I honestly wonder if I'm the first single American to visit this island - goodness knows I was a rarity in being an American here in the first place.
All in all, good trip. I'll land in JNB in a few hours, where I'll hopefully synch up with Sharon in the airport, and debrief on Uganda - she's very much to thank for that working out.
After that, I'm a resident of ZA for exactly 2 more weeks (literally, my flight to the states leaves the same hour 2 weeks from when this flight is due to touch down). I'll return to somewhere in CA (probably LA but that's TBD right now) for a bit, and then hopefully will be moving into an apartment in the West Village with DK come late April.
Its hard to believe its over. I know I'll be back, but still. Hard to believe.
Uganda will be the subject of blogging this week. Enjoy.
didn't get this up til Sunday night but it was written on the plane yesterday.
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"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."