Peter and Lesley's World Cruise 2007 travel blog

 

 

 

 

 


"Growing old is no more than a habit which a busy man has no time to form. -Andre Maurois [1885-1967] French author and critic. The Art of Living, "The Art of Growing Old' [1940]

At the end of the 16th century, Admiral van Warwyck, of the Dutch Navy, landed on the shores of what is now Baie de Grand Port and claimed the land for Prince Maurice of Nassau as "Mauritius." Dutch settlers returned and established a port. The new colonists [from Holland's Indonesian settlements] built up the harbour and began to cultivate the land. Within a decade, the population had grown to more than 500. They imported livestock, and clear-cut centuries old ebony trees, replacing them with sugarcane. Unfortunately, there were no ecologists to warn about irreversible environmental damage. Such 21st century science came too late for many species.

By the mid- 17th century, pirates were regularly pillaging passing ships laden with locally grown spices or expensive European goods. Severe weather patterns also discouraged settlement, and the port was all but abandoned at one point. The community survived until 1710 when the Dutch settlers finally gave up and left. A French colony had already been established at nearby Ile Bourbon [now Reunion], and a team was dispatched in 1721 to Ile de France [Mauritius] to form a new community. The settlers were beset with the same problems as their predecessors, but they persevered and the settlement grew. In 1735, Bertrand Francois Mahe de la Bourdonnais became governor of the local colonies and ordered a new harbour on the relatively sheltered western shore.

The journey from the Seychelles to Mauritius was interesting. Two days before our departure tropical storm Jaya was born in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The ships weather department had been monitoring her development for several days as she grew in force to 200km/hr and her direction became westerly across our path.

By steering a course of 157 degrees the Captain managed to avoid the worst of the storm but the unsettled seas left in Jaya's wake made for an interesting journey and after we had removed all breakables from shelves, cupboards and desks we attempted to sleep.

We arrived and docked on time in Port Louis at about 8am. Our guide was called Elizabeth. She was eighteen, her native tongue was French and her command of English was entertaining and confusing as she struggled with many words.

The coach journey took one hour from the dock to the marina, passing fields of sugar cane, tea plantations and scores of little villages with ramshackle single storey houses made out of breeze block and rendered with plaster. These in turn were painted bright colours and many displayed the red Hindu flag. A small motor cruiser took us across the sheltered lagoon to what can only be described as heaven. Paradise Island [Ile Aux Cerfs] came complete with the classical palm trees, white sandy beach and azure blue sea.

Jet boats took holiday makers across the reef to a floating pontoon from where exciting and challenging paragliding took place. Half naked bodies were liberally spread across the beaches and it was patently obvious that many of the young women had been brought up on the best cow and gate baby food. Several of the older male QE2 passengers suffered from nose bleeds and were administered first aid on the spot.

Lunch was taken at a beach restaurant under thatched open sided huts. The food was delicious and was a mixture of the various dishes the island had to offer. [They do not have one traditional dish but have adopted Indian, African and European tastes]. The local Mauritian beer was served ice cold and was particularly welcome in the 104 degree heat.

Lesley and I quickly realised this was the first excursion we had taken for several weeks where we could totally relax. It was absolutely wonderful!!!

My journal entry is totally inadequate to describe the beauty of the island and the peaceful environment. We hope our photographs will succeed in this regard.

Tonight we set sail for Durban and South Africa.



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