Lauren here. Mauritius has been my home for over a week now. The island has exceeded my expectations in both beauty and culture. The flight from New York to Dubai was long, but the comfort and luxury of Emirates Airline helped to make it tolerable. This was my first time seeing Dubai and it was, for lack of a better description, so cool! I could see the outline of the Burj Khalifa and the Jumeirah Palm Island Hotel. I was on the flight from New York with two other Fellows, Lindsay and Lincoln. Sadly, no long trip is without drama. Lindsay and I lost Lincoln in the Dubai airport when he had to stand in line for a boarding pass and missed the flight. Lindsay and I continued on to Mauritius and as we were landing, my nose was pressed against the window, along with the camera on my phone. The island is lush and tropical. The coast was lined with beautiful, sandy beaches, while the inland was dotted with tall, ridged mountains. Lindsay and I were excited to meet up with our other Fellows.
The 2012 Fellows were well chosen. Our group has created an atmosphere of cohesion that teams usually only develop after much longer periods of time. We are all working toward the same goal and we each have our part to play. Each person is passionate about their program and is extremely excited to contribute to the organization. Along with excitement, we all have our own little quirks and characteristics. I know that living with these folks for eight weeks is going to be an adventure that will only add to the experience!! The talk of living with the Fellows brings me to our accommodations. Our house is amazing!! Consisting of two levels with three kitchens, 5 bedrooms, two living areas, balcony, courtyard, and an accessible rooftop, the house is more than we could have hoped for. Oh and I cannot forget our resident gecko, Baxter. Located in the village of Triolet, we are nestled in between sugar cane fields and the beach. We have ventured out to try local cuisine, my favorite being roti, which is a sort of burrito filled with beans, potato and spices. Lindsay and Bryan are our resident chefs and have prepared delicious dinners for us each night. Brittany is our resident omelet expert and I have grown fond of returning from our runs to make omelets with vegetables and cheese. Me, I have become an expert in chopping, stirring, and taste testing.
We have not started teaching yet, as this week has been spent at the office brainstorming new ideas, organizing logistics and perfecting strategies. We have each developed an office job, whether it is expanding the Fellows program, documenting our work or being responsible for social media. My personal job is to expand my own program of sports and nutrition into a permanent subunit of eli-Africa. We all sit in the conference room staring intently at our computers. It is wonderful to have so many sharp minds together because if we run into obstacles, each person has ideas as to how to fix it. We have run into a few obstacles, but true to eli form, we conquered them easily and I know that will continue for the next two months. Every day has brought something new. Bryan, Brittany and I had a lovely running adventure on our second day. Let’s just say we thought the beach was closer than it turned out to be. We made it there, thanks to some wrong turns and a nice man on a scooter in the middle of a cane field. But then we had to make it back. We have become accustomed to waking up early and going for runs as the sun rises. The aromas in the air go from fresh bread to incense to burning thrash to scooter exhaust to the freshness of flowers, all floating in the breeze. We run past small businesses opening for the day, buses full of people on their way to Port Louis, and kids in uniform ready for school. As we run we talk about our programs, including our fears, concerns, curiosities.
We are all nervous about starting the programs and meeting the kids, but we also have the confidence and courage to put it aside and jump on in! Just this morning I was sitting on the balcony when an ox-cart rolled by on the street. I got so excited! How random. We have also inherited a new friend, a pet turtle named Marcel! I am curious what tomorrow will bring!