Mauritius April 8, 1978

Ben Oostdam's 1978 Journey


April 8, 1978

Airphoto of Port Louis taken years after I visited....
For even more recent view see : Port Louis Panorama 2007 by Oscar Leo

I had breakfast at 07:00 and drove to Curepipe again to drop off a guest. Enjoyed some glorious views, and took time out to have a boy draw me a map of places I could visit to-day. Some names and up-to-date links: Quatre Bornes, Grande Riviere Noire, La Marie and Chamarel Waterfalls.
I also learned that the second highest mountains here (823m) is named after Pieter Both, the first Governor of the former Dutch VOC whose ship wrecked along the coast of Mauritius in 1615.

Pieter Both Mountain of the Moka Long Range, 823m
photocredit: HARDCHRIS

view of coast from Chaparal
photocredit: Victor Wkf
Passing through lots of sugarcane fields and tea plantations and experiencing some pleasant occasional light rain, I arrived at the largest reservoir in Mauritius: Mare aux Vacoas, as early as 08:45. There were some high stairs, and a group of tourists who asked me to take their pictures.
The next two hours I roamed around in the woods getting carried along in a frenzie of collecting and devouring handsful of delicious berries, like some drunken bear. There were groups of Indian children doing the same, and we all shared a good time and presumably some stomach aches later on... The scenery and views were stunning, and rather than trying my own descriptions, I refer to this webportal dealing with the various landforms of Mauritius
Around 11:00, I stopped at the imposing Alexandra Falls where it started to rain. Later, the rain became stronger and visibility near zero through the clouds, while I was driving down some steep road towards Black Rocks. I took refuge in some picnic pavilion where I was invited to join in the Tegalu New Year (Ngadi?) festivities. It was a wonderful meal with brandy, sprite, rum and whiskey, and I met and conversed with numerous brothers: the oldest one named Naik, who was the postmaster of Flic and Flac - [SATMAP]; also Bambous, Manur and Kotapha Ramadu, chauffeur of taxi # 2792. I was allowed to take photographs (since lost) of all men but not of the women and children. After having been extended and gratefully accepted their offers of hospitality in any of my future visits, I drove on rather lightheaded and kept on deserting on berries till I decided my stomach was about to burst. By then, the sun was shining fiercely again and the road was a series of switchbacks. At some scenic stop I donated my remaining cherries to some girls including an incredibly beauteous blonde. A bit further along I picked up a hitchhiking mother of 20 and baby daughter who told me her name was Lachele Eden, from 26 Impasse, Quatre Bornes. By that time we had reached the coast and she got off to take a bus north, while I turned south along the coast towards Morne Brabant.

Grande Riviere Noire

Morne Brabant

This was a 556m high basalt rock, with a lagoon and all kinds of hotel facilities, but they happened to be fully booked. I admired the layout while walking along the beach loaded with small sailing boats and at that time did not know about the dramatic historic significance of this site, where numerous escaped slaves jumped to their premature death when soldiers marched towards the rock to tell them they were now free...
I walked to the next hotel, Meridien, which also was fully booked but wait, there was a group booked for 17:00 that I might be able to join if I waited. In the meantime, I watched them make a movie in the lobby. Yes, I could join, at the rate of R 275 which I bargained down by R 50 skipping dinner.
I then took a quick cool swim with snorkel, fins and facemask and picked up a very long-tentacled sea anemone to show to my fellow French guests just about sunset. I also chatted with a fascinating Chinese/Vietnamese woman who was here for "maquillage" (cosmetics). After a shower and industriously doing my laundry, I settled in a leather fauteuil in the lobby, where I smoked a pipe, and ordered a coffee and a Cointreau, while watching - but not conversing with - an English couple across from me which reminded me of my Aunt Suus except that they had one very shy daughter. Later that evening there was a lot of dancing, but I chatted with two excluded (wall-flowered?) German girls, Anneliese, assistant manager of SAS in Hamburg and Sybille of Air France. They were very interested in oceanography, but we were all rather tired and they were scratching their legs so I excused myself and had a good night's sleep after this very eventful and enjoyable day capped by an abstemious evening!

BLO fecit 20090807 - Index of 1978 Tour