The week has flown by. Originally we should have spent two days in Reunion and five days here, but I was informed after already buying the tickets that the members in Reunion would not receive us, so we came straight to Mauritius. I contacted the members here by phone and checked in with everyone. Because of health issues and jobs, we won’t see everyone until tomorrow. So we spent the rest of the week on a variety of projects. I worked most mornings and afternoons, and we would go out to local places for lunch.
I got caught up on office work, which of course never ends. There was personal correspondence to answer in French. There were plans to complete for my upcoming trip to the Congo, I’ll have less than a week at home before starting out again. There were arrangements to make for the June FOI project in Rwanda, yet another trip we’ll make. I did some research for articles I will write for church publications and wrote my weekly newsletter.
We made a brief visit to Port Louis, the capital with its colorful central market, and to Grand Bassin, a Hindu holy place at a crater lake where Hindus perform ritual bathing and which has a 100 foot high statue of Shiva, the supreme Hindu god, and Durga a warrior goddess, nearly as tall. The center has changed quite a bit since we first visited in 2002.
We also took most of one day to visit the Casela Park, a nature-themed park with many exotic animals, with some of which one can interact. There are giant tortoises, lemurs, ostriches, monkeys, brilliantly colored macaws among other birds, antelope, hyenas, even a few white rhinos, but the strongest draw is the big cats. There are a couple of cheetahs, and a number of lions.
It is possible to interact with the young lions, up until about age 5 years when the males, especially, realize they have become stronger than the humans that raised them. It’s normal for lions to fight to establish dominance, and that wouldn’t turn out well for the handlers. But during the first years of life, even when they look fully grown or close to it, they can be managed with care and patted and caressed. One can even grab the lion by the tail and hang on to it while walking.
This project began in South Africa some years ago, I heard about it as we were planning a youth camp there in the early 2000s. It was set in motion by people who love lions and want other people to share that love, by eliciting respect rather than fear toward the animals.