Home / Mauritius / Inquiring minds — Jim Hildebrand shares travel journey with Twillingate students

Inquiring minds — Jim Hildebrand shares travel journey with Twillingate students

As some of the readers in Twillingate may know, my wife Jane and I have sold our house and have moved to Nova Scotia to be closer to our children and my mother.

I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to write for the Pilot. I have been able to share some great stories about our town as well as to highlight some of the incredible work that people are doing that makes Twillingate such a great place to live. 

I always enjoyed writing stories about J.M. Olds Collegiate. The school has a great spirit and I have always felt welcomed meeting with students and staff.  One of the annual projects that we have done is a collaboration with the Grade 9 English class.  When Jane and I travel to different parts of the world on vacation, the students send me questions about our experiences or the locale.

This year we are travelling for four months. We are spending two months in Mauritius (2,500 kilometres off the east coast of mainland Africa or 850 km east of Madagascar) and then two months in South Africa.

In Mauritius we have rented an apartment for a month in Grand Gaube, a village in the north, followed by a month in the village of Chemin Grenier at the southern portion of the island.

After our visit to Mauritius we will fly to South Africa and stay for a month at a cottage in Hopruit, close to Kruger Park. We then move to the east coast for a month in Port Shepstone. 

There will be lots of things to see and do. I will try my best to sate the curiosity of the students. I hope that you will also enjoy.   

The first question comes from Jacob Bath. He wonders, how long did it take to get from Newfoundland to Mauritius — not just plane flights but all the stops and overnights?

Response: In all it took us three days and a bit (due to the eight-hour time difference) to finally arrive in Grand Gaube. It’s a long trip. We left from Halifax, and if we had travelled the 14,000 km as the crow flies, I am sure that the trip would have been much shorter.  Our journey was slightly more circuitous.

Our first day of travel, early in the morning Nov. 25, we went from Halifax to Ottawa where we boarded another flight to Washington, DC. We stayed overnight in a near Dulles Airport

The next evening, we boarded South African Airlines to fly to Johannesburg. This flight is supposed to be about 16 hours with a short hour long stop in Dakar Senegal to refuel. Everything was going fine until our descent into Johannesburg. There was a major storm with high tail winds and we were unable to land.  We ended up being rerouted to Durban where we refueled again and waited on the tarmac for word of the storm subsiding. 

All in all, it was 21 hours of travelling before we got to our hotel room. It was a very quick sleep and we were back at the airport for our third day of travel. This was the final leg to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, just south of St. Louis, Mauritius’s capital city. 

I would like to say that was the end of the travelling, but we still had to get to our apartment on the north of the island. I had arranged for a car rental but this ended up being extremely complicated.  (Jacob, this could be an interesting story for another question, if you’re interested.)

Anyway, between the jigs and the reels we finally arrived at our destination at sundown Nov. 28. It was exhausting. We certainly wouldn’t do the journey if we were only to stay for a week or two!

For those who wonder why we would take such a convoluted route, the simple answer is that ends up being less expensive even with the addition of hotels and meals. As much as we wish to take more direct flights, flying straight to our destination from Canada is just too much money. Flying out of Washington saved us around $1000. For those who have time restrictions this would not be the best way to travel.


Watch for more travel features and responses to the questions from students in the coming weeks and months as the Hildebrand’s continue their journey.

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