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Date: 29 Oct 2013 09:39:24
Title: Mauritius

Mauritius is on our holiday list!  A test of whether or not we like a place is to ask whether we would we like to come back here on holiday. In the case of Mauritius it's a definite yes. The little marina here (strictly a little harbour as there are no pontoons and only a wall to tie up to), is right in the middle of the waterside development, so shops and cafes all around and a couple of very plush hotels.  The locals and holiday makers walk around the harbour in the evening and at weekends, looking at the boats and saying hello if we're on deck. The fruit/veg market is excellent and along with the main town shops, only a 10 minute walk away. The cost of living here is cheaper than the UK and eating out is very reasonable too. Hiring a car is £27 a day, the roads are not bad and they drive on the left! One other important fact - the climate is hot, but not oppressive, and apart from a small shower overnight soon after we arrived, it hasn't rained. Yes, this is a nice climate.
 
It's quite unlike anywhere else we've been. It was a British Island for 150 years, gaining independence in 1968. So it has all the British infrastructure that you would expect, even posh looking waste bins just like those back home. The official language is English. HOWEVER, in reality it's a French Island. Everyone speaks French. All the radio stations are in French. Place names are all French. It's actually quite a nice combination. Originally the island was Dutch and then French, before becoming British. The people are quite varied. Most are Indian, brought here a long time ago to work in the sugar plantations (sugar is still the main export), but the majority still speak French. There's a lot of European French, Chinese (there's a big China town in Port Louis), and a small population of Africans. The new shopping malls dotted across the island are some of the most modern that we've seen. New office blocks are going up and in Cyber City, not far from Port Louis, there's some very futuristic office buildings, housing, apparently, call centres. There are over 35,000 people here working in them. So when you think you you've been redirected to an Indian call centre, it could well be here in Mauritius.
 
The first place we had to visit - the Customs Building on the quay.
 
The first visitor to us - a Madagascar Fody. We see it most days around the marina and it's come on board
a couple of times, perching on the wheel. It does look like it's been dunked in orange paint!
 
The marina and waterside development, from the top of the mast. The marina is very cosy when
there's a few boats in. The building to the left is a very posh hotel (happy hour 17.00 on Fridays!),
the building to the right is the museum and the rest are shops.
 
Rafting out, like at St Peter Port. It took nearly 10 months, but we finally caught up with Kennedy
on Far Star!
 
Aurora B and Jacaranda side by side. We sailed together all the way from Cape York, the northern
most point in Australia. They have commitments in South Africa and have left. We've been
delayed sorting out rigging problems. 
 
Bougainvillea is everywhere around the marina and you see it all round the island.
 
The cinema in the waterside development.
 
Port Louis is a busy port with big shipping and fishing boats.
 
The marina shopping development. The umbrellas appeared one morning. Hope that doesn't mean
they think it's going to start raining! We've been here just over 2 weeks and had just one small
shower.
 
The promenade along the harbour has all been pedestrianised. It's all very pleasant.
   
Another visitor to the marina, a red-whiskered bulbul.
 
Hired a car and did a bit of a tour round the island. This is Seven Falls, a cascading waterfall
down to the valley below (at least it would do if there was any water!). But the view down to the
west coast was quite spectacular ...............
 
The central Plateau is high (around 2,000ft up) and the southern end is covered in forest. Spotted
quite a big monkey (gibbon like) when driving along the edge of the forest. Monkeys were inadvertently
introduced by sailors.
 
We bumped into an official tour guide at one stop and he took us to a number of other interesting spots,
including the Seven Falls. That's him on the motor bike, which we followed up hill and down dale. He 
took short cuts, that were not any map, at every opportunity! It was a fortuitous meeting and worked
out well.
 
Our guide for a couple of hours.
 
A traditional Mauritian meal served on a banana leaf. Not the most enjoyable meal I've ever had,
but at least we tried it (once - that was enough!).
 
Couldn't resist taking this, although the dodo does look much like Snoopy! Haven't mentioned the
dodo yet. This is of course where they come from, or did until they became extinct!
 
A volcanic crater in the central plateau around which the big town of Curepipe has grown up.
Epidemics on the coast caused people to flee to the higher, cooler parts of the islands and the
central plateau has some of the most populated areas.
 
The rise of the call centre industry.
 
The HQ of the Mauritian Bank. (It ought to be the HQ of the local brewery!)
 
Most cars are Japanese, with the odd Ford here and there. Having had a Morris 1000, Liz couldn't
resist taking this one going along the M1. The roads here are pretty good.
 
The dramatic scenery that we saw as we approached the island is made up of many isolated
outcrops like this. (Reminded me of the scenery that John Wayne rode through in all his westerns!)
 
There are nice ice creams too. (Guess who tried most of them!)
 
The Oysters are coming and the other boats have all gone! Except for us and a local boat. The Oyster
Round the World Rally (25 or so big expensive yachts built by Oyster) are arriving this week and
all the other boats were asked to leave by yesterday. We're still here as we had rigging problems to
sort out and as the majority of the Oyster fleet is arriving a bit late, they still have room.
 
The boat ahead of us was one of the first Oysters to arrive and at 48ft is the smallest in the fleet.
The Oyster on the outside flying the Oyster flag, is 82ft. Another 82 footer is due to arrive this
evening and most of the 50-60 footers are expected in at the weekend.
 
No pictures of beaches, simply because by the time we drove down to the coast the sun was going down and it was overcast, but they do have some lovely beaches here. Quite a bit of the island is surrounded by coral reefs and the beaches line the lagoons.

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