Mauritius April 7, 1978

MAURITIUS

April 7, 1978

I woke up at 06:00, somewhat stiff and stinking, so I welcomed getting out of my car and into the light rain. I crossed a golf course and walked to the shore from where I noticed a couple of spearfishers offshore. There were lava rocks, and mudskippers. I took three profiles all of which were some 150ft x 5ft and without any tar, hurrah!

Next, I drove to the small "town" and went into a Chinese shop next to a large fallen tree trunk where I bought my breakfast, consisting of a coke and a roll with fried fish and red pepper sauce, wrapped in an old "Cape Argus" (South African) newspaper. I walked along the main street with it scanty houses , some with galvanized steel - and others with reed roofs. The few people I encountered were friendly and very polite, mainly women tapping water from communal taps into large cans. I noticed lavastones used for sidewalks, some small farmplots and a lot of goats. Also some temples. It was already getting hot when I walked past a field full of hardworking and lively Indian women on my way to get to the hotel again. It was apparently too early, no one in sight, i.e. everyone inside.

I went for a swim but the water was turbid around the rocks, so I went to the tombolo where I enjoyed watching the wave patterns (reflection, refraction and diffreaction) as well as several displays of shells and textiles for sale. Gradually some people started appearing, including two in bikinis, but none in the anticipated topless attire. Every body was glittering in suncream and oil and getting ready for another day of boredom.

I used the bathroom to take a welcome wash in the sink (or was it in the toilet bowl?) - no showers available,so I (rightfully) felt a bit like a tramp. Maybe that accounted for the refusal by a British bird to have me take her photograph, in sharp contrast to the ready acceptance and friendly chat with an athletically proportioned woman from New Zealand who was in charge of the boathouse and had been here for ten years already! She gave me some suggestions for places to visit and urged me to go for a free breakfast. I did not, and instead took two more series of three tar profiles, one at Belle Mare North (see here for 2009 sitrep!) , 3 x 110ft x 4ft and another at Pt Fayette, 3 x 85ft x 4ft, all of which came up "blank", hurrah!

I also smelled an o.b. motorboat passing by and actually saw some red sails of windsurfers. How I would like to be able to do that, but I do feel a bit too old and stiff to take it up.
Just before I left about 10:00, I savored a chat with a charming old Indian lady who had lived here all her life and who spoke with me in beautiful French instead of the expected and - for me - hard to understand Creole dialect or language, as the case may be...



2009 NOTE: Tourism in Mauritius has grown
spectacularly in the last three decades,
as per this table and graph:
here are growth factors for the
quarter decade of 1978 to 2003:
hotelrooms 2.6x, hotels 4.9x, tourist arrivals 6.5x,
but tourism revenues 86.3x

please click to enlarge

I drove further north toward Roches Noires where the landscape opened up, and the coast consisted of lava rocks and pocket beaches. The cottages on the seaward side of the road looked more prosperous but on the landward side there were fields worked by farm laborers. At a picnic area where some Indian men were stitting in the shade playing cards I stopped and took three tar profiles, north of LaFayette, this time with less favorable results and leaving me with dirty hands at noon in the hot sun:
EMP-80407-01 85ft x 4ft = 152 gms i.e. 4.80 gms/m2 or 117.4 gms/m
EMP-80407-02 80ft x 6ft = 86 gms i.e. 3.85 gms/m2 or 047.4 gms/m
EMP-80407-03 65ft x 6ft = 10 gms i.e. 0.28 gms/m2 or 005.4 gms/m

Suddenly I remembered that I had to extend the duration of my passport, and that it was Friday afternoon...but to my joy the next road sign showed that it was only 25 miles (or kms?) to Port Louis. I really stepped on it and raced inland through stateline tree lanes, crossing numerous bridges and passing dozens of villages: neverthelessI got a bit lost, so I asked the way from a very charming Chinese schoolteacher who redirected me in fluent English.Then suddenly I saw the sea again at the other side of the island and entered into some type of culture shock: Port Louis, with lots of traffic, more Chinese and more sophistication. Surprisingly soon I found the American Embassy in a high building with parking problems and an elevator. A very helpful secretary got me started, and directed me to a nearby Chinese photoshop to have the required two passport photographs taken. The photographers had three daughters who gave me a comb and bowl of water to fix my hair - (and even offered to shave me, which I offer I turned down). Within minutes, the pictures materialized and were whisked off to the Embassy again, where I was told I could pick up the new (not extended) passport on Monday, and they promised to call the Indian Embassy, too!. I was truly amazed how well all of this went, and next walked to a hotel I had seen and wich looked appealing, the Flore Oriental, where at 4 pm I asked them to hold one of their Rs 50 rooms till 6pm and drank a Stella beer, then walked on through town. On a sidestreet I noticed numerous handcarts and tinsmiths (or rather Zn than Sn). Shops did not amount to much, and included in their wares glass from China, soap from East Germany and showerheads from Brazil. The covered market was busy and cosy, and I drank a milkshake chatting with a fellow traveler who had spent 7 years in Cairo. Further along I came across several Chinese Clubs, but only for gentlemen. Then suddenly I came to the unpretentious harbor. I followed a group of girls that ended up at what looked like the island's main bus terminal, which was packed with passengers.



The next surprise was to find my car back, in which I drove straigth to the Flore Oriental hotel as if I were a taxi driver.I was tired and after a slow cold shower went to bed from 17:30 till 19:00. I got up disoriented and blah, shaved, but used lack of plug as excuse not to do my laundry. I donned my too warm safari suit and went to the dining hall where I was the only guest and served by 5 waiters. I kept changing seats, first to get to a cool spot, then to avoid a blast of AC. I ordered a wonton soup, eggrolls with some hot sauce to be shaken from a salt and pepperset, and Cantonese fried rice and two Stellas. It was good. At 1950 I resumed my walk and town exploration. I found the Clubs to be for men only and with "drink obligatory" which turned me off. I ran into some ponces, and ended up with a taxi driver who was going to take me from bar to club all the way to Curepipe and back. Thus I ended up back at the hotel well after midnight and had to bribe my way through the locked front door to get to my room and rest. Accustomed as I was to "pai tiau" in Bangkok, Mauritius had a long way to go... I figured, trying to fall asleep while being annoyed by the AC once again.


SOME MORE LINKS:

Accommodation in Mauritius
Mahebourg Bay
Wijbrand van Warwick 20 sep 1598 Maha Shivara Tree Celbrations on Mauritius
Giant Statue
Mauritius Photogallery Ale de Vries, Aug/Sep 2007
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,
Mahe de la Bourdonnais



BLO fecit 20090603_7 - Index of 1978 Tour