South We Go

The highlights of week 2

This post in Francais

In just a few words the second week of our trip went like this....lots of sun, sea and sand, good fresh local food and of course we explored the No Stress island more. Read more to find out about the Saturday market capital, Port Mathurin, of this No Stress island and is famous caverne patate.

Day 7 (08/09/10) Port Mathurin

The day started with a full breakfast by the poolside, fully stuffed we wondered what we could do on this lovely morning. Then we saw a flyer for the hotels spa proposing a hot stone massage, so without thinking twice we went ahead and did that. The Massage was great an hour of pure bliss in the relaxing and refreshing environment of the spa.

In the afternoon we visited the Island's capital Port Mathurin, it is very small, but clean and you everything you need in small amounts, I even found a Billabong shop. The few locals we have had the chance to meet so far came up to us and said hello, people here are friendly. At exactly 3pm all the shops close and by 315pm the city becomes an abandoned  town.  People head home, collect their sheep from the fields and have dinner, they do not go out in the evenings.

Day 8 (09/09/10) Lazy Day

Today we woke up late, had a bit breakfast and spent most of the day lying by the pool. We spoke with a few local people and started to understand their culture more. Here things don’t work the same way they do in Europe. Here things work based on sunrise and sunset, just like they use to in Europe. The sunrise is at 5 am here and business, schools; life in general start at 6am, where as for us it starts at 9 – 930am. Here at 3pm the day is over, where as for us that’s just the middle of the afternoon. By 6pm, there is not light left in the sky and the island is bathed in darkness, in contrast to Europe, there are few lights at night, making outdoor activities harder and some time dangerous.

In the evening we went down to the only night club, that hold Karaoke night, in total there were 7 people in the bar, it felt friendly and like a night out with friends, we had a good time.

Day 9 (10/09/10) Time to face the music

As I mentioned a week ago in my journal, because of the economy crisis, the group of hotels that manages this hotel decided that they need to reduce the amount of staff working in Rodriguez as occupancy is lower here than in Mauritius and it doesn’t make business sense to keep the staff. The problem with letting people go here is that it is very hard for them to find a new job, as there is very little in terms business here, 50% work for the government in the public sector. For the rest, they compete for the jobs in the few hotels, shops, and other small business that are here. Because of lack of resources farming and agriculture are very minimal even if the conditions are optimal, and people other raise a few animals themselves.

D Day having commenced early in the morning, we were warned to except some action. Finally not much happened, the employees that were let go stood outside the gate for a few hours, and when we went outside they shouted empty threats, the remaining staff went on strike for a few hours in the afternoon, but went back to work in the evening.

In the late afternoon we went to play tennis on the courts right next to the hotel, after a while we started to have an audience, a group on children ranging from 4 to 9 all looking at us. We invited them to play with us, they were very happy, and God young people fit, we were so tried after that. I need to do more sports.

Day 10 (11/09/10) Saturday Market

Every Saturday, in the Rodriguez capital, Port Mathurin, there is a market. The market sells mostly fresh food items, fruits, vegetables, live stock, but also many types of spices and dried octopus. If you want to catch a glimpse of this original market you have to wake up early, the market starts at 6am and by 11am everything is packed away. It’s really interesting; this is where the Rodriguen woman come each week to do the shopping for the week. The street is filled with ladies in straw hat carrying straw baskets that they will fill up with the goodies sold. People by live chickens as well, they tie them up and carry them by the legs back to their homes, where they let them grow until they become big enough to make a good meal with.

In the evening we hear that they was a show and dinner happening at a restaurant called the ‘Bois du Olive’ we went up there, sat down and tried to order, I said tried because, I chose three things from the menu that they did not have, at the end I gave up and let the waitress choose for me. The show never actually started, I think the band didn’t show up.

Day 11 (12/09/10) Caverne Patate

Today we returned to the Caverne Patate, as the last time we went there is was too late and they were closing. Caverne Patate is the largest cave network in the republic of Mauritius, it 1.2 kilometres long 600 meters of this is open to the public. We start by walking over land for 600 meters until we reached the entrance of the cave, a goodbye way to the goats that were hanging around at the entrance and we step into the darkness. Armed with small flash lights we stay close to the guide that takes us through the cave and explains to us the different formations that are made out of the rock, we spend about 30min walking under ground. Caves are very cool, each are unique and each rock formation ‘grows’ at 1cm every hundred years, that’s why we should preserve and respect these amazing sites.

We spent the afternoon at another hotel on the island the Mourouk Ebony hotel, the made up of a collection of colonel buildings with red roofs hidden on the edge of a turquoise coloured bay. We had a beach lunch, then spent time in the sun and finished off the afternoon with some Kayaking as the sunset. We also booked a kite surf lesson for Wednesday, which should be fun and maybe a bit painful.

Day 12 (13/09/10) Hairdressers

Well today its been a month since a quit my job in Paris and started to prepare for the journey of a life time, so I felt like I needed to mark it by doing something special, I went to the hairdressers, yes I know that in itself is not shocking, but I have breaded my hair as the woman here do. I look a bit strange, but it’s cool. People look at me in the street and wonder what’s wrong with me I am sure, as people already looked at us because we are tourists, now they look even more.

Part from the change of look, I managed to change the tickets to leave Rodriguez on Saturday to go to the Mauritius, its always very difficult to find a flight to leave or come here, as in low season there are only two fights a day in low season and four flights in the high season, the flights have 40 passenger seats, but there is a weight restriction for the aircraft as they are small and often they denied boarding to passengers if the maximum weight of the aircraft has been surpassed, and you can get stranded here for a few days until there is space on another flight.

Other than that we rescued a kayak that went floating our to sea by itself, I love kayaking so much, if one day I live by the sea, ocean, river, lake I will buy one and teach my dog to swim along side it with me. There is no chance I am going back to live in a city that is over an hour from the sea, or nature, life is too short and should be lived the way you want to live it.

Day 13 (14/09/10) Centre & Southeast

Today we decided not to be lazy, the last few days, we have spent at least half of the day in the hotel, doing not much, and so, at 8am we are already in the car heading off to discover the island. First stop, the highest point on the island of Rodriguez Mont Limon, at 389.3 meters high. The view is stunning; you can see the lagoon and its different shades of clear water. Next stop, St. Gabriel, where the islands only cathedral is located, it was constructed in 1939, and is very charming, made out of greyish white washed stone, it has no door and when you go inside you can hear the birds singing.  On to Roche Bon Dieu, where we ‘met’ something we did not know existed on the island,  big spiders, as big as my hand, hanging from power lines and making their webs, quite shocking as we found an army of them. At Roche Bon Dieu there is a stone formation to take a picture of, nothing exciting except the spiders. On to the islands most famous hotel Cotton Bay, which apart from the food turned out to be very standard, for a lunch of baby octopus, really tasty and worth the journey over small gravel roads to reach this secluded hotel. After lunch we wonder along the breath taking coastline and take pictures of the waves crashing against the rocks.  We then went back to the place we visited on our first day here, Trou d’ argent, only we found out that last time we were there we did where not at the right place and had to continue on the path the reach it. The beaches on the south east of the island are the most beautiful, golden sand and clear blue warm water with no rocks. It’s 6pm and there is a fire in the sky, its sunset and the sky changes into all the colours a sunset is sold to be.

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