Mauritius April 6, 1978 - Ben Oostdam

MAURITIUS

April 6, 1978

Woke up at 07:00, ice cold and coughing, so I turned off the AC and went back to sleep - after all, my system still thinks it is 05:00 ;o)
An hour later I got up, had bacon and egg breakfast and then walked along deserted beach to the end where I collected tar in three profiles.
I was unpleasantly surprised to find tar, and took the samples along in marked plastic bags (which I weighed later in Goa, India), so here are the results:
EMP-80406-01 75ft x 4ft = 20 g, or 558 g/m2 or 16.7 g/m
EMP-80406-02 90ft x 8ft = 05 g, or 335 g/m2 or 02.1 g/m
EMP-80406-03 80ft x 6ft = .0 g, or ..0 g/m2 or 0 g/m

(for comparison, please see my Marine Pollution Bulletin paper )

I bought some shells for Rs 20 and went swimming near the volcanic rocks, coping with a strong longshore current and noticing large numbers of seacucumbers, echinoderms and grazing fish. I let the current carry me back with my stowing net, past an elderly couple of nudists walking along the beach, but it was only further along that I cursed my fogged up glasses when I floated past a younger well-endowed topless (misnomer) specimen. At the boathouse I ordered a small sailboat with red sail and enjoyed an hour of sailing in the clear lagoon where I saw numerous mushroom corals (Fungia scutaria), Acropora and a giant jellyfish. I pulled the boat ashore and walked past the restaurant, invited a good looking tourist to go sailing, but she turned me down, so on I went to the bar, which was deserted, so back to the boat...this time an Indian tourist from Zambezi asked me to teach him sailing, which I did. He treated me to a beer and we were joined by a Dutch Canadian. I excused myself to put my gear away, take a shower and check out. At lunch time, I had a good tournedo and chatted with a dozen pilots who get a six day vacation here for every 42 weeks of flying... By mid afternoon, they left and I stayed on a while watching a little kid feeding his Dad chips with salt, and an interminably reading blonde.
I left this little paradise and drove north along the East coast on a road with many bends and surprising vistas,with sugar cane fields, forests and small houses on the left or landward (mauka) side and beaches and bays with reefs on the right or (makai) seaside. This island reminded me of Kauai, what with volcanoes, sugar cane and liquid sunshine! In the small town of Mahebourg - named after the French Governor Mahe de la Bourdonnais -I noticed many Indians and but one single long haired Kung Fu Chinese, some Hindu and Buddhist temples, lots of red flags on top of long bamboo poles, a minaret and a monument to the 1812 war.
NOTE: a much more colorful description was presented by Nicolas Pike, the American consul to Mauritius, in 1873:
From Mahebourg we sent our carrioles round to Point au Diable, but we preferred sailing, although there was considerable sea on. The distance was about nine miles. This is a spur of the Bamboo Mountains, and received its name from early na- vigators, as it was said the compass here varied so much without apparent cause, which was probably owing to the large quan- tity of iron ore that the whole range contains. There is an old French fortification of stone, still in fair preservation. We pitched our tents near this Point, in order to examine the coral reefs. We found large quantities of Sargassum, Cys- tophyllum, and for the first time Turbinaria ornata : there is but little variety of Algae all round the coast, though Zoophytes are pretty numerous. The Sargassum is fine here, with its beau- tiful waving branches, covered with the nodes of air vessels resem- bling bunches of small yellow fruit ; and amongst it I observed shoals of fish about an inch long, of a bright blue, which I took to be young Urasse, which swarm round the whole of Mauritius, and amongst them are the most brilliant-coloured of tropical fish. They come into shoal water at certain seasons, in order that the young may not be devoured by the large fish in deep water. I tried hard to catch some of these small fry ; but as soon as I threw my net they would disappear amongst the weeds, as by magic, then when all was quiet they would recommence their gambols as actively as before. I saw many Anguilles Moreles, but I took good care not to disturb them, so they let me alone. How the fishermen escape these eels I know not, probably from understanding their habits they avoid them. The reef at this part extends out some distance, with shallow water between it and the shore ; but off the Point, near the fort, it is very deep. To the north of Mahebourg is a magnificent range of moun- tains, extending from the centre of the island, where they have the name of Terre Eouge, to Grand River SE., changing their nomenclature to Creoles, Camisard, Bamboo, and Grrand Port respectively. The Creole Mountains form a long spur off the main range, and make the background of Mahebourg itself. Nu- merous branches diverge to the sea ; and amongst those of Grand Port rises the Camisard, supposed to have received its name from the Camisa, or shroud of clouds which it often wears ....


Next came a stretch of winding road,
luscious vegetation, many buses and road taxis,
deep gutters along the road,
bicyclist with wide loads of cane or firewood,
groups of children suggesting
overpopulation and such romantic names as
Riviere des Creoles and Bois des Amourettes.
Then suddenly a colorful road sign
which filled me with (past/post) patriotic pride...
This was in Ferney where on 20 September 1598
the Dutch Captain Wijbrand van Warwick
landed and named the island after
Holland's "Stadhouder" Maurits,(a favorite of my father's..)







Fort Frederik Hendrik


Mahebourg Bay
Kathryn and Amy Blog Mauritius Nov/Dec 2008
Maha Shivara Tree Celbrations on Mauritius
Giant Statue
Mauritius Photogallery Ale de Vries, Aug/Sep 2007
Valiam's Sailing (B)Log, Mauritius, AUg.2008
Pierre Poivre
All told itís estimated that Pierre Poivre, before leaving for France for good in 1772, had introduced more than 600 rare plants into Mauritius and the Pamplemousses Gardens from around the world, like mango and breadfruit trees, cocoa, lychees, coconut palms, ebony and mahogany trees, laurel and camphor trees.
Journey Woman at Sea - Mauritius, Feb/Mar 2008
Mauritius Blogspot
Mauritius Blog Tracker
Mahebourg SATMAP2011

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