Thursday, April 4, 2002

Mark Twain Slept Here

For what really amounts to no good reason at all, I decided tonight that instead of watching Dr. Greene's head explode on the TV in the breakroom, I would learn as much as I possibly could in 15-20 minutes about a country I'd never heard of, picked pretty much at random from The CIA World Factbook: Mauritius. An African island nation in the Indian Ocean discovered by the Portugese, Mauritius was orginally settled by the Dutch (with some African slaves), then was overtaken by the French and British in succession, finally gaining independence in 1968. It was frustratingly difficult to find any info aside from the Factbook page, but I did locate a tabloidish news page for the Mauritian population of London where I learned that they have a new President, Karl Offman, who replaced former Presiden Cassam Uteem upon his resignation over the passing of the Prevention of Terrorism Legislation. One presumes this was not due to Uteem's support of terrorism; hard to say for sure without being able to find the text of the law though. The officicial government website is curiously silent about the issue. A Google search revealed a somewhat barebones tourism site which would lead you to believe the best part of visiting Mauritius would be to ride in a boat full of rotting fish. (Actually, it looks like a gorgeous island with plenty of mountains and some nice beaches.) Somewhere along the way I saw that a professor from UCONN had recently delivered a lecture at the U of M and had discussed Mark Twain's visit to the island nation; I can't find that link again though and wasn't able to track down the text of his lecture. Bummer. The list of public holidays at the Bank of Mauritius site is interesting in that it hints at a culture that may be an interesing mix of Hindu, Christian, and Chinese influences. Stay tuned for another brief overview of an obscure nation coming soon ...

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