South We Go

The highlights of the first week

This post in Francais

After leaving Paris as everyone is returning to the city to go back to work or school, we take a train and 2 planes to arrive on the tiny island of Rodriguez, know as the No Stress Island. The sun is shinning, its at least 25 degrees (not bad for the winter) people are smiling, we are welcomed with coconuts...

Day 0 (1/9/10) It's time to take off

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St Pancras

7 am the alarm clock rings, but it’s not time to get up to go to work, it time to head to the Gare du Nord in Paris to Catch the Euro Star. It’s a sunny warm day, school starts back tomorrow and people all back from their holiday. For us the adventure has just started, after some struggling with the big back packs that we are going to live out of for the year to come, we boarded our train headed for London. There we had lunch with Fred’s sister before taking the tube to go to Heathrow terminal 3. The weather in London is sunny and we spend the afternoon in the airport drinking coffee waiting for out 12 hour flight. We had our Irises scanned so that in a years time when we are headed we home we can hopefully skip the huge welcome to the UK immigration lines. Heathrow airport duty free has many designer shops and a large choice of restaurants…fancy some sushi before your 12 hour flight? We were not so brave.

Day 1 (02/09/10) Landing in the tropics

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Arrivée à Maurice

‘Good morning, we would like to inform you that we will be arriving in Mauritius in approximately 1hour’ the crew of Air Mauritius told us as woke us up and started serving breakfast. The flight went well; we got to sleep, watched some recent movies and enjoy not too bad food. Once we landed we passed through immigration quickly, collected our bags and met our driver, Hassan, who is also the Lodge owner of where we are staying tonight. The weather is sunny it is 24 degrees here, not bad for the end of winter. The sun we soon figured out just came out when we landed to tease us. Once we were ready to start to explore no sooner did we get outside that the rain started. But not the rain we are use to in Europe, tropical rain and a wind that is so strong that you can not understand from which direction the rain is coming from. We found a small restaurant called ‘Salut Mon Copain’, where we had a a lunch that consisted of fried noodles with different kinds of meat. We took refuge in the lodge for a few hours before going to see the local festival ‘festival de rire’. I think it was funny but we could not tell as it was in the local language Creole.

Day 2 (03/09/10) Welcome to Paradise

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Welcome flowers

8 am a knock on our door ‘breakfast is ready’ it was our host Hassan, breakfast was had on the roof top of the lodge, where we enjoyed a view of the river, ocean, the mountains and the sugar cane fields…what else can you ask for….hammocks? Well there were 2 on the roof top, a great way to relax after breakfast. We head to the airport where we take our flight for the Rodriguez island, after an hour of negotiating we were finally able to take all out luggage with us, as we are taking long haul flights, we had too much for the small charter that does the shuttle between the two islands and we almost had to leave some behind. After an hour and half of flight we commence our descent, however we still not see where we were landing until less than 3 minutes before landing, we view from up above is stunning, the water is so clear that you can even see the ocean bed from the sky. Greeted by my dad at the airport we are taken to the hotel Point Venus, one of the two four star hotels there. Greeted in the typical island tradition with coconut cocktails….life is hard.

Day 3 (04/09/10) Discovering Rodriguez

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Trou d'argent

Finally a day where we get to sleep in, travelling is hard work. Breakfast by the poolside with the birds flying overhead hoping that some toast will fall to the fall for them. A trip to the capital Port Maurtin follows, time to get connected to the world once again, a sim card in hand we head of to buy a few supplies, from the islands one supermarket. The supermarket is like that of anywhere in the world. A family lunch follows at a small restaurant called the ‘restaurant du quai’, a mix of noodles and rice and local spices, washed down with ‘Phoenix’ the local beer. Time to head to the beach, after a short 30min walk we reach ‘Trou d’ Argent’ a beach hidden away from the world by rocks on both sides. No need to look for a good spot to place our towels, we beach is all ours, the water is so clear and warm, this is paradise. On the walk back to the car, we pass a family of goats, some cows, a few pigs, and chickens. The animals roam around almost freely here. Tonight we are going to see a traditional Saga show, followed by a night on the town in the only night club of the island, safari club.

Day 4 (05/09/10) The local culture

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Vache rodriguaise

The Saga show last night was very fun, we were shown how to dance by the dancers. The trip to the Safari club, was uneventful, it was like a night club you can find anywhere in the world. Today we went for lunch in a Table hote Rodriguez, what this means there is that you eat what you host cooks for you, our meal consisted of, spicy fish, chicken, green papaya salad just to mention a few. After lunch we head off on another walking travel, where we spend the afternoon taking picture of the local wildlife and the sea. Life is hard. Back to the hotel for dinner and a acoustic band. We learn that they have to let people go because they are too many staff for the number of guests, and my dad warned us to expect strikes or threats… lets see what happens.

Day 5 (06/09/10) Françoise Leguat Nature Reserve

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Paysage Rodriguais

After a breakfast from the balcony of our hotel room we head off to visit the Tortoise and roussata bat Reserve. The reserve was founded in the memory of Françoise Leguat, he was the first man to document the wildlife of the island of Rodriguez. In his memories, he wrote that the island had so many Cylindraspis tortoises that one could walk from the east to the west of the island on their backs it we would line them up. He also documented the existence of the Solitaire, a cousin of the Dodo bird formally found on the Mauritius Island. Its so sad for me to see that the first conquerors of Oceania destroyed the habitat of these creatures so much that they became extinct within less than 50 years of human settlement. The reserve breeds and protects two types of giant tortoise, the d’aldabra that come Seychelles and the tortues étoilées that come from Madagascar. They have a parenting program where, people can sponsor a tortoise, for 25 euros a year, this helps improve the care the centre offers, and spreads awareness of what is being done here to protect this amazing animals. The reserve also has a cave that can be visited, the guide are very professional and friendly, sharing information with you interactively. On the way back to the Hotel we played taxi and brought home the staff, dropping them off at different points on the island.

Day 6 (07/09/10) Iles Aux Coco

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Ile aux Cocos

Early start today, we had to catch the bus that would take us to the port at 9am. The weather does not look promising, tropical rain is pouring down as we leave. We arrive at the port, if you can call it that, it’s more of a small beach, where about 5 small boats are docked. We boarded a small boat, and headed off on our 1 hour and a half voyage to reach the Ills des Coco, the tide was out and there was less than one meter of water in the lagoon, the motor often hit the sand, and the boat came to a halt for a moment. The tropics did not let us down we had the pleasure of having an out door shower on the boat, all that was missing was the soap. The island is stunning a true paradise; the water around the island is different shades of clear blue and turquoise. Birds fly over the boat diving into the water to pick up seaweed for there nests. The island is a nature reserve, so access to the island is very strict, you are not allowed to bring any food onto the island, as the birds may eat the leftovers and get sick, no touching of course, no smoking, no feeding the birds, on scaring them and everyone must leave the island by 3 pm at the latest. The island is home to 4 types of birds that nest here and another 6 that use the island as a resting point on their migrations. In the summer season over 45,000 birds can be found here. The guide explains the importance of protecting the island, and the different spices of birds and their habits. A lunch of only fish, fished from the waters around the island is served. This is to protect the birds from illness. Time to have a swim or just rest on the beach, before taking the boat back to Rodriguez, the journey home was not as smooth as the way out, we had we wind a against us, that meant that the waves were crashing against the boat. I was totally wet by the time we reached land.

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