Posts Tagged pétanque

Bummin’ It In Mauritius

Mauritius beach

Belle Mare

Water, volcanic rock, sand, and grass meet in Belle Mare

Mauritius was beautiful. Of the entire 30/40 World Tour, this was our most relaxing stop.

Our hotel was right on the beach in Belle Mare.  Even though we had already been to beaches on the 30/40 World Tour, as my feet sunk into the sand in Belle Mare, I remember thinking the sand was so soft.

La Palmeraie

La Palmeraie bar area and overflowing pool

In fact, our entire stay made us a bit soft. I think there were probably more employees than guests at the hotel since it was the off-season. Our breakfasts and dinners were included, and we had an assortment of goodies to taste daily. When returning to my seat from the buffet, a member of the staff would often intercept me to grab my plate so I could walk unencumbered. How’s that for soft?

New Zealand Butter

Mr. HalfFull holds New Zealand butter against the backdrop of the gorgeous beach

Speaking of food, remember how we told you that dairy was a big deal in New Zealand?  Well it’s such a big deal that they had New Zealand butter in Mauritius!

There was often entertainment during/after dinner. One night, the band played, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”  I’m starting to wonder if that is the first song that all non-native English speakers who work in hospitality learn.   We heard the song in Fiji too!  It’s kind of ridiculous to hear a song about West Virginia while in Africa. It reminded me of the days when Mr. HalfFull and I were driving to West Virginia from our home in Virginia, and my dearest husband played (and sang) that song 10 times before I got a reprieve.

La Palmeraie

View of our Moroccan-inspired hotel from the beach

While in Mauritius, we spent much of our time lounging, but also ventured out to snorkel via a glass bottom boat, swim, paddle boat, and play volleyball.  One day we even decided to do the group fitness class on the beach. Mr. HalfFull and I constituted 2/3 of the participants. The instructor was a wiry man who was all abs and muscles. Needless to say, we were pretty sore afterward.

What’s the best way to recover from soreness?  Massage!  I love massages, so we decided to indulge in a couples massage at the resort spa.  It started out with a bath of coconut milk and lemongrass.  It smelled wonderful, but made us a bit leery that perhaps we were getting prepped for the grill and not a massage!

Thankfully, the massages did occur.  I was very glad that Mr. HalfFull and I were in the same room.  There was virtually no draping as is customary in the US, and the strokes did not neglect the inner thighs or breasts.  I was surprised!  Did she really just go there?!?

Christian Shrine

Christian shrine along the beach

Hindu Shrine on Beach

Hindu temple on the beach surrounded by offerings placed on the volcanic rock

We also took lots of walks along the beach and discovered various religious shrines — Hindu and Christian.  We also saw local boys playing a game of pétanque on the beach.  This time it wasn’t men on their lunch break.  We witnessed the smallest boy throw the winning shot.  Immediately, all the older boys went over to verify the proximity of his ball, while the little ones jumped up and down with excitement.

Arsha Vidya Ashram

Arsha Vidya Ashram along the beach

Pétanque

Boys playing pétanque on the beach

One evening, I inadvertently created a security incident at the hotel.  We were down at dinner when a manager came to tell Mr. HalfFull that there was a security problem in our room.  We had no idea what happened.  It turns out that I had left the safe open when we went to dinner, and the maid had entered our room to turn down our bed.  She noticed the open safe and alerted the security guard.  By the time Mr. HalfFull got there our room was being guarded by security and they asked him to verify that nothing was stolen.  It turned into a huge incident.  Oops!

Mauritius Taxi

Ms. HalfEmpty on the taxi ride to the airport

After our week of relaxation, it was time to head back to the airport en-route to Dubai.  Check back to hear about our adventures in the United Arab Emirates.

  • Where was your most relaxing vacation?
  • In what country have you heard, “Take Me Home, Country Roads?”
  • Do you exercise on vacation?
  • Have you had a massage that made you uncomfortable?
  • Have you ever left a hotel safe open?  Did the staff alert you?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Observing Noumea

Noumea city view

Sometimes you have to stand on a tagged trash can to get a good panoramic photo

It was nice to be back in a warm beach climate after the winter weather in New Zealand.  The beaches in Nouméa were beautiful despite being marred by graffiti.  Everything was tagged — trash cans, park benches, picnic tables, bathrooms.  I find tagging ugly, unnecessary, and uninspired.  But when we ventured into the city, we discovered that some of the graffiti was actually art.

Noumea graffiti

Some of the graffiti in downtown Nouméa wasn't bad

We soon began to notice that we were surrounded by triathletes in the beach areas.  We would often share the sidewalk with runners, see others on expensive racing bikes in the street, and watch swimmers in caps and goggles training in the ocean.  When you’re on vacation, it’s strange to be surrounded by exercise fiends.  It made me feel like a bit of a slacker.

Speaking of sharing the sidewalk, Mr. HalfFull and I had to retrain our brains after 1 week in Fiji and 3 weeks in New Zealand doing it the British way.  New Caledonia is French, so they drive and walk on the right side of the road, like us.  It was surprising that this was actually a retraining exercise, since walking on the left had originally felt so unnatural.

The other surprising thing we discovered on the sidewalk was a complete disregard for other humans.  Fiji was an exceptionally friendly culture where strangers yelled, “Bula” as they passed us on the sidewalk.  But each time we said, “Bonjour” in Nouméa, we were met with silence.  Perhaps it’s the cool aloofness inherited from the French.

We were also bewildered by another unfriendly sidewalk practice.  Generally, Mr. HalfFull and I walk next to each other.  But if we see another person or group approaching, we move to single file until we pass the other party.  In Nouméa, no one else did this!  They could be walking with five people across and make no effort to move over and allow us to pass.  Eventually, it became a game to see if they would actually run into us; I put Mr. HalfFull in front for those experiments since he could block better.

Noumea pétanque

City workers play pétanque in Nouméa

On the other side of the spectrum, we witnessed the relaxed, playful side of New Caledonian culture in the form of daily pétanque matches.  Pétanque is a French game similar to bocce.  Around 11 AM each morning, we would see the city workers park their trucks and congregate to play on the court adjacent to the beach.  They played for hours; I wonder if they were on the clock.  Mr. HalfFull thinks this might be his next career.

I have mixed impressions about Nouméa.  At times, people made it feel cold, but the joy of the city workers meeting to play was a nice contrast.

  • Does graffiti change your impression of a place?
  • Do you exercise on vacation?
  • Did you need to retrain your brain after travel?
  • Do you acknowledge and/or greet strangers on the sidewalk?
  • Do you practice sidewalk etiquette?
  • Are the pétanque players lazy or are they fostering meaningful camaraderie?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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