For a week I did almost nothing but clean the inside of the boat. Plus a little time at the pool, and checking out the nearby restaurants, and half a day of riding around with the Maggie crew to check out the anchorage at Grand Baie. A week wasn’t quite long enough. I had hoped to empty every locker and clean inside. Didn’t get that far. But I cleaned the walls, the ceiling, the floor, the counters, the fridge, the freezer, the settee cushions, the heads (and replaced the diaphragm and valves in the port one). I threw out every bit of food that I thought might go bad or get bugs. I threw out some that I’m not even sure what it was (mysterious looking stuff labeled in mysterious languages). I gave a few items away to the security guards.
I showed our “guardian” – Xavier – how to start the engines, and the starboard one was very reluctant to start. He arranged for a mechanic to come this morning before I left. But of course with the mechanic here, it started right up. Xavier will call him again if he has problems when he comes to give the engines some “exercise.” Xavier also volunteered to spray our tiny ants while I’m away. He seems to know his stuff and be very helpful, which makes it easier to leave the boat unattended. No Regrets and I have been taking care of each other; I’m reluctant to leave her alone.
I planned to leave at 11am for the journey via three buses to the airport. But it was 1pm before I had everything put away and closed up. No matter — my flight leaves late at night so I have all day to make my way there. The bus service is not simple or quick. Yesterday Xavier raised his eyebrows when I told him I was taking the bus, and he quipped, “You better leave now!”
The first bus arrived right away. I was armed with Goggle Maps to see where we were, plus a list of all the stops on the route, up to my stop. I thought I was prepared, but… It was surprisingly difficult to match where we were with the name of a bus stop. Most of the stops have nice rain shelters, but no names on them. And of course you can’t simply count stops, since the bus may not stop at all of them. When I thought we were close, I asked the ticket-taker, who said he’d let me know. Stop after stop went by… Apparently they added a dozen stops not on my list-from-the-internet. He didn’t steer me wrong — when he told me it was my stop, we were in the expected town.
Next I had to walk to the town roundabout to get my second bus. But the town doesn’t seem to have a roundabout! I asked, and two people assured me I was going in the right direction, and the bus stop was just ahead. My next bus was #163, but only some of the buses showed numbers! So I asked another person waiting. “You can take any red bus, but not an express.” Sounded reasonable, but when I started to board a red bus and asked the ticket-taker to confirm the destination, he looked at me like I was crazy, and said no, it doesn’t go there. Then someone directed me to the next bus approaching — an express…#163. That worked.
When I got off after 3 stops, I confirmed that I wanted #198 to get to the airport. Yes. At the stop there was one other person waiting, so I asked if I could get #198 to the airport at that stop. Yes. But after several minutes he said, “To the airport? You need to be on the other side!” Normally I’m very good with my sense of direction, but that doesn’t help much with meandering bus routes.
On the other side I again checked with a person waiting. Yes, you want #198, but it will say Mahebourg – it may not have a number. Many buses went by. Finally a #198. But it didn’t stop! I asked my friend, “Do I need to jump in front of it to get it to stop?” He replied, “It was full.”
Many more buses went by, and along came one for Mahebourg. My friend indicated I should take it. But the ticket-taker said it doesn’t go to the airport; it goes to Magnien. Well, whatever. It was rush hour(s), and I figured I should take what I could get, and figure it out when we get “there.” At the next stop there was a huge crowd. The bus had a sign: Capacity 65 seated, 5 standing. We packed everyone in — to the point that it was nearly impossible for anyone to get out at the next several stops. Everyone (or at least most people) were smiling about it.
I didn’t know it until we got there, but Magnien is where the airport is. As I exited I saw a sign for the airport in 2 kilometers. Figured I’d just walk. But I didn’t want to walk along the highway, and I saw several people walking down a paved path through the sugarcane, so I ventured there. After 100 meters or so I saw a man getting into his car, so I asked if I could get to the airport via this path. No. But he was driving to the airport, so please hop in! The airport was just a stone’s throw over the sugarcane, but it started raining at that moment, so the ride was appreciated. Naturally he dropped me right at the international departures door.
So it only took three hours to get here, and cost about $4 instead of the $60 to take a taxi. Now I have 5 hours before I board, but at this point it’s like I’m on the escalator — just letting it carry me along for the next 30 hours to Boston.