Mauritius April 10, 1978
Ben Oostdam's 1978 Journey

MAURITIUS

April 10, 1978, Monday


I woke up at 06:00 and was packed to go by 07:00, dressed in my newly bought shorts, which had gotten torn at a fence and then repaired by Fuong. To my chagrin, I could not buy a new film since the shops were still closed. I left a message for Hertz, wrote up my journal, and Fuong and I said our adieus and aux revoirs. Melancholically, I drove northward along the coastal road I already knew in opposite direction. I stopped for a breakfast of two freshly baked bread buns, a chocolate bar and a Sprite.
I also stopped at every beach to take tar profiles,
not a single one of which, starting in the
Riviere Noire Bay with yacht harbor, yielded any tar!
(7 profiles of 5ft wide and
resp. 55,70,95,50,42,50 and 42 long
perpendicular to the waterline)

(right:) Satellite Map of Black River and vicinity
.

Average wave period was 12 seconds
and there were several high cusps of
coralgal debris spaced some 25 ft apart.

Then followed beautiful Tamarin Bay, with a fine hotel, where I took picts of some fishing women and mountains in the background. Two profiles of 5ft x 48 ft and 50 ft, resp, behind a double fringing reef, as well as a 160ft long by 5ft profile at a rather open rivermouth all showed zero tar, too! I also managed to buy some film there and returned to the beach where fishing nets were being hung out to dry.


Coast near Flic and Flac

Satellite Map of Flic and Flac


I wondered if I should visit my recently acquired friend, the postmaster of Flic and Flac, but decided against it since it was getting late. I did take some nice shots of colorful women doing their laundry in gutters along the road and under orange, white and purple flowere hedges.



Very soon I reached the attractive suburbs of Port Luis, then busy Port Luis itself, which was almost like coming home. I faced some parking problem, so I just left the car for a minute to quickly pick up some films at the Chinese photoshop where I had dropped them of last time.
(a mysterious remark in my journal states "hoofd te klein?" (head too small?)).
I left the car where it was, put on my safari shirt and went to Habib Bank from Zurich (?) (near to Bank of Baroda (more) to exchange my third $ 50 travelers check...
Next, I visited the U.S. Embassy where the lovely married Consul in persona helped me, and typed my passport kneeling on the floor - a lovely (in)sight ...then even gave me a stamp and some coins, and introduced me to her husband and called the Indian Consul to speed up my visa. I felt fantastic, not only because of the AC in the elevator, till a more characteristic US Lady Tourist took me down to Earth (groundfloor)...Off to the Baroda Building for the Indian High Commissioner, who was very busy but friendly and efficient and did not let me wait more than a few minutes, charging a mere R 15. I then retrieved my car and drove to a quiet tidal canal, where I parked and walked to the main road to compose a photograph of a severe gent's statue seeming to enforce a parking prohibition or protecting the right of taxis in front of the Mercantile Bank (more about modern Mauritian banking).
Because it was high noon, I treated myself to a spicey waffle and promptly showed my ingratitude by spilling on my neat safari shirt. For solace, I bought a large icecream cone at a Popeye the Sailorman truck. Next, I took photographs of waiting bus passengers and of the harbor. Then I topped it all of by patronizing a tiny restaurant for a cold beer and a rich portion of "oliebollen"...
By now it was almost 13:00 and I sped on my way further north, making a first stop at Le Hochet and Tombeau Bay to take two tar profiles, 5ft x 55ft each with no tar, even though within view of the port...I admired the pleasant summer houses in this beautiful Bay.
Next followed Arsenal and my decision to skip Pamplemousse and Royal Botanical Gardens (having already seen a Victoria regia when I was a small kid)
So I proceeded (as the cop said) past Solitude where I took picts of high grass and mountains on to Pointe aux Piments on a rather open coast where I found another "immaculate" i.e. tar-less set of 3 profiles, 4ft x 60ft, 40ft and 25ft, resp. I ran into some cute (land)urchins who were eager to try my aqua velva but failed to produce the young coconut I fancied..
Trou aux Biches was chique, and just south of Mont Choisy and Cannonier Point I took another tar profile, 90ft x 4ft= 0 (zero) grammes along a splendid public beach ...
Ile aux Benitiers near Trou au Biches
I drove past the Club Mediterranee, taking another 60ft x 4ft 'tar-less" profile, then on to Grande Baie, exquisite, full of boats, but the beach was closed...
[let me reiterate here that this link postdates my visit to this heavenly site by four decades, and that I could at that time hardly imagine how much more tourist-minded Mauritius was to become...]
At 14:30 I started on my way back, but got lost and ended up at some hedonic beach, i.e. Club Mediterranee, with scarcely dressed Creole beauties, lessons in SCUBA diving, snorkling, sailing and waterskiing, and not a speck of tar!
Although I only saw a half dozen SA tourists, there were no vacancies - so I continued on my return to the Airport....skirting Quatre Bornes L'Chelle, passing again through Curepipe with several tourist shops, past Hertz where the two ladies on the brochure assured me that I could drop the car at hertz at the Airport, hurrah. Through Rose Belle to airport where I arrive at 17:00. There was an urgent message from Mercia, so with some trepidation I called her. Prof. Simpson of the University of Capetown had contacted her to ask me to apply for the faculty vacancy in oceanography. For the rest, everything ok! Cost of phone call R 40, cost of car rental over R 900! Trebly relieved, I ordered a beer, changed R 130 Mauritian to R150 Seychellian (that being my next destination) and met a cute blonde, Pamela, who was on her way back as bartender in the Seychelles, so she took me under her wings... That included dinner....before we took off on the 2,000 mile flight, through a cyclone, with kind assurances about safety from a pleasant chief steward.
We landed at 22:00 at the "moisty-warm" Seychelles International Airport.

Together, Pam and I went through immigration, but I had to "step aside" to get a cholera shot....Next,we shared a taxi which dropped me (alone...) off at a small guesthouse. This was run by a very hospitable French speaking Creole.
Seychelles International Airport

BLO fecit 20090818
Index of 1978 Tour
There was no A.C., but I took a nice shower and washed my underwear. In conclusion (...Finally), I dropped into bed after a rather exhaustive day... I guess I was asleep even before I could plan my next day.