Monday, January 17, 2011

Beautiful Day in Mauritius (Dec. 2, 2011)

Port Louis is the capital and largest city in Mauritius. In 1735 it was built by the French and named for Louis XV and became a provisions stop for ships travelling around the Cape of Good Hope. In the early 1800s, the British took official possession of the island, but the French colonists were allowed to keep their language, customs and religion. English is the official language but French and Mauritian Creole are also spoken.

The flag of Mauritius...pretty!

I had arranged for a private tour for 10 of us. Jim was definitely not feeling well after our tour in Reunion Island and was seriously debating staying on the ship. We looked up the elevation of Mauritius and once we saw that it wasn’t that high, he decided to go but take it easy.

We had no idea who Christian Decotter was but the terminal looked nice!

Lots of peaky mountains...

This looks a little more prosperous.

Oh look…

A high tech building…

This is going to be a bank!

Lot of beautiful flowers…

Our first stop was Floreal for some shopping. In my mind, I thought we were doing a souk or a craft market,  but it turned out that Floreal was the high end stores that Princess brings its buses to. Not exactly what we had in mind! The first stop was a model ship building store. What the heck…it’s supposedly what they are known for.

These workers are making teeny, tiny little pieces for the ships. The girl on the left is tying tiny strands of rope together.

All the little pieces in the front right of the photo have been painted gold. They are miniature!

The guy on the right was sanding little pieces of wood about ¼” square. It’s a wonder he has any fingers left.

And of course, you popped out into the shop where they hope you will buy something. Don’t worry…they ship all over the world! We admired the work, but there were no huge sailing enthusiasts in our group and we escaped. Oh…they had a jewellery section where I bought a necklace for $30. Go figure!

And then it was on to the diamond factory. Not one of us had any plans of buying diamonds, but it might be interesting to see how they are cut.

Here we are, minus Jeff and Jim. Jeff was just not interested and Jim was conserving energy. Robert and Ingrid, on the left, were a new couple along with us for the tour; Kevin and Olivia are from England and were  our new trivia partners since Nancy and Joe left the ship; Kathy (minus Jeff); and Kersti and Rich. Kersti is managing very well with her walking boot after an unfortunate fall at Table Mountain in Cape Town.

At first I thought the prices were very reasonable, until we realized they were in $US and not Mauritian rupees! We looked around at the beautiful jewellery, found out that the factory isn’t open any more since the recession, and made a hasty escape. We made sure to tell our guide, Naushad, that we didn’t need any more shopping. The beauty of a private tour…

Carrying on…some lovely homes!

We were heading to Trou aux Cerfs, a volcanic crater created 750,000 years ago…

We arrived, along with a bunch of Princess buses. I guess there is only so much to see! The mountains were  beautiful.



And here it is…I am finally realizing that volcanoes can be a bit of a disappointment. I keep expecting fire and lava! Instead, trees and a crater…

The police seemed to be everywhere and I took a chance and snapped a picture. They appeared to be asking all the vendors for permits. Even the ice cream man couldn’t escape.

Naushad, our driver, and guide, for the day…

Curepipe is the island’s main residential town and is known for its textiles.

Instead of fences and barbed wire, all the properties had hedges. You really couldn't see a thing, which I guess was the purpose.

It was very clean. This looked like a nice apartment building…

Our next stop was at the Sacred Lake. Every year 500,000 barefoot people make the pilgrimage to pay homage to the statue, Shiva. The sidewalks are very wide and go on for miles.

The statue is 108 feet tall.

Each part of it represents something. Unfortunately, I don't know what...

We weren’t really sure why we were here, but we were game to look!

The lake is stunning. You can see the statue, Shiva, in the distance on the left.

These girls were praying. It is considered one of the most sacred places in Mauritius.

We headed down the steps to see what was going on…

We were still not sure if this was a special day or if this goes on all the time. The ladies were dressed in beautiful saris…

The smell of incense burning was very strong. It was a good thing Jim decided not to come down.

These women were all praying to this statue and waving their incense sticks.

Hmmm…

Each one of these statues has special meaning…we just weren’t sure what. Naushad didn’t come down the stairs with us, so we were a little lost.

Look at this little guy with his beautiful suit…

Incense, flowers, bananas, coconuts…all offerings to the gods.

If you wanted to go into the temple, you had to remove your shoes. Kathy’s feet!

Lots of singing and lots (and I mean lots) of incense. Too much for me!

Ingrid and Robert got a symbol painted on their foreheads. It was supposed to mean love and good luck and some other stuff. It probably means “tourist!” You should have seen how many people forgot they had it on and wiped their foreheads. By the end of the day, there were a bunch of red smears!

The water had tons of fish in it. This was right next to the shore. The fish obviously liked all the offerings as well!

And the cats liked the fish…

Jim and Kim at Sacred Lake. I seem to spend all my time asking “is it hot, or is it just me?”

Our next stop was the Black River Gorges National Park. It consists of 6800 hectares of indigenous plants, birds and wildlife.

What a beautiful spot!



The sign said Tourist fund. I thought that was so clever. Jeff went over and looked in and said “There’s money in there!” I said “Really??” and went to look…at a bunch of steaming garbage. Ick!! Jeff loved it!

Jim did manage to walk down to the gorge and back up again. He met up with Kersti and Rich…

Pineapple plantations! I miss pineapple since discovering my allergy to it!


Lychee trees...

And then it was time to stop for a local lunch. The restaurant was really nice, but I made the mistake of ordering crab creole. This would be huge crabs still in the shell covered in tomato sauce and spices. How the heck are you supposed to eat that? I had tomato sauce everywhere…

I said to Olivia, “Wave!” and then caught her in mid-wave!

Then we stopped at the Chamarel waterfall. It is more active in the summer (December to April) with heavy rainfalls and is about 100 m high. Also volcanic, you can see the results of two different lava flows.

Here we are again!

Oh, and then the piece de resistance! I couldn’t wait to get to Chamarel to see the seven coloured sands. The port lecturer had a picture and I swore I saw red and blue (and stripes and stars!). We had to pay to get in, but I was determined I was going to see it. And then…this…


Not that it isn’t pretty, but where are those brilliant colours I saw? Tourist trap, I say!

Oh well, might as well get our picture taken!

And the explanation…

We stopped at a scenic lookout…



And then back into the van…thank heavens for air conditioning. It was hot!

Guess what! We have hit all these trees just when they are blooming. So lucky!

A banyan tree...

This house had a dove roof! Crazy!

A new hotel…tourism is big business and they are really trying to promote the island.

Salt fields…workers were using long squeegee type tools to push the water off leaving the salt after the water  evaporates. Such hot work! 


No port is complete without a stop for wine and beer to take on board. Winners is a supermarket here.

They still had the occasional road side market…

An old Catholic church…although the majority of the population is Hindu, Catholics make up about 26%.

And the jail…

And with that, it was back to the ship in lots of time to get back on board. A lovely day in Mauritius! And now we have six relaxing sea days before arriving in Muscat, Oman…

1 comment:

praveen pandit said...

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