Day 78 

This was a usual sea day of activities. The 10am lecture by Terry was on The Making and Taking of Mauritius.” The Dutch were the first recorded discovers of the island when two of their ships heading to the East Indies were blown way off course in a storm. They arrived 9-17-1598. There were no indigenous natives to greet them. The island had no human inhabitants; but one rare kind, a Dodo, a three foot tall flightless bird weighing about 40 pounds that made its nests on the ground. The Dodo became the source of fresh meat for sailors over the next two hundred years until they were driven to extinction. In 1606, the Dutch established a port to assist and provision the East India trading ships. Colonization and commercialization efforts did not succeed and, by 1652, the Dutch pulled out only to return once again in 1664 only to experience misfortune with disease, pests, cattle illness, cyclones, and poor administration until finally abandoning the island in 1710. The French arrived in 1715 and planted a flag, leaving three days later and not returning until 1735. They had more success and used the base to harass the British India trade ships. During the Napoleonic era, Britain decided to end this French outpost and sent its navy to capture Mauritius and its surrounding islands of Reunion and Rodrigues. After three months and more reinforcements, Britain prevailed on 12-2-1810. Today, the island has a strong French heritage partly because the conquering British retained the Napoleonic Code of Law that the civilians were familiar with. To support the sugar cane industry, the British brought in thousands of Indian and Chinese laborers. The island received independence in 1968 and consists of 48% Hindu, 33% Christian, and 16% Muslim. Reunion island was returned to France in 1815 as part of the peace treaty in Europe and the island has remained a Department of France since 1946.

In compliance with ocean regulations, every two weeks, we had to listen to an all-ship intercom message describing muster rules and procedures. This takes only a few minutes and much better than grabbing our lifejackets and lining-up in our deck muster stations.

This morning pastry chef Pascal demonstrated how to make cannolis. He made the pastry dough from scratch and wrapped it around special metal cannoli tubes to get the cylindrical shape. They are then put into hot oil for about a minute and removed from the tubes when they cool. The filling is made of ricotta and mascarpone cheese, confectioners sugar, orange zest, and grated chocolate. After watching him, we had the opportunity to fill our own cannolis. The pastry shell was already made and we had the job of squeezing the filling (also already made) into the shell and dipping it into grated chocolate and pistachios before eating it. Very challenging indeed- but delicious. Mac and I each ate one, and it was before lunch.

The noontime games were fun, a card game of 31; but no winners here. I(Mac) went off to ping pong with Art and Bob. After lunch, I went to the Casino’s slot tournament and Pat went to Easter card making. She was more productive than I was.

The afternoon destination lecture by Michael Scott was a preview of what to expect at Mauritius. He briefly repeated some of the same old history of the island that we heard in the morning. He dwelt much on the natural wild life on the island, especially his favorite, birds of all types. He had pictures of the port area and Google maps of the city of Port Louis. He pointed out the major attractions along the waterfront and center. The island possesses the oldest Botanical Garden in the southern hemisphere and is the site of the third largest coral reef in the world. One strange highlight is the Blue Penny Museum. One of its exhibits is the famous pair of 2c 1847 stamps worth more than $2.2 million.

In trivia today we got 11 out of the 15 answers correct- and won! We received 3 regent points each (there are six of us). The pre-dinner show tonight was a repeat performance by Brett Cave, the very energetic pianist and singer. Today he sang many well-known songs including Elton John’s hits and Neil Sedaka’s Calendar Girl, Breaking-up is Hard to do, Carol, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, and others. I enjoyed this show better than his first.

We joined Art and Joanie, Bob and Twila, and Don and Lynne for a wonderful dinner tonight at Compass Rose. Some of us had prime rib and others, the fresh fish of the day.

Kelsey, one of the Regent singers, performed a cabaret of her favorite songs tonight. It was her debut as a solo act and she did quite well. I didn’t recognize many of the numbers, though. I’m sure they came from very recent musicals, of which I am unfamiliar.

We are safely out of pirate territory now, and can keep our curtains open and lights on.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac