Port Louis

Wed 20 Jun 2012 19:35
Wednesday June 20th 2012
...is the Islands capital, and I rather like it here. Pierre and Jean Francois have gone on ahead, first a trip up the coast to Grand Baie, and yesterday evening, rather later than planned, and after farewell drinks in our local pub/restaurant ('The Marsielles', of course) they set off for Reunion. I am staying put until they get in and case the place, but they finally got through to someone there on the phone, by all accounts a safe haul out can be arranged.  The little marina here is full and I am rafted up against another French boat; her skipper Frederique seems a bit uncertain about his future plans: he does not fancy Madagascar singler handed, but he can hardly go back fromn here. Generally everyone has the same idea as me: idle the northern summer away on the beaches here, or in the Mountains of Reunion, or lay up and return to base. Then we will all reassemble in November like swallows, hoping for reasonable weather to see us to South Africa. It is fascinationg to wonder where all the Australian, US and UK boats have gone, just about every boat here is French, and Reunion will be even Frenchier!.
St Louis is apparently modern, but it is just the Banks, the motorway, and the banker's cars that are new, Many Dutch, French and British colonial buildings survive as well, and it is a good pastiche. The market is a traditional affair with excellent fresh produce, and rather aggressive craft stall holders. I'm long past souveniers, but someone must buy this stuff. Anyway it makes for a bustling atmosphere, and I keep one hand on my wallet, one hand on my camera, and jostle enjoyably along. The Banks are big because Mauritius is a commercial centre between some big players: South Africa, India, and China/Taiwan. All the people in suits are Indian. The Chinese have all the shops, and the Creoles man the street stalls, selling instant food and fake Calvin Klien. Apparently the Franco Mauritians have all quit the scene, and are now ensconsed in the Yacht Club in Grand Baie. There are huge Banyan trees ('roots' hang down from the branches) in the Central Gardens but you are warned against going there after dark unless you want drugs, a woman, or a knife attack. It is much safer down here on the Caudan Waterfront. At night there are far more private security guards than punters, but it is out of season. Tonight stepped out of my league in an Indian restaurant that turned out to be extremely expensive, but I have to admit that it was very good food, much better than Shimla Peppers in Bromsgrove, and I'm getting just a little tired of octopus. But it is not all play, and I have done quite a lot of tidying up/repairs. Also a hair cut tonight, but poor light in the showers, and certainly not one of my best efforts: not only going bald on top, but patchy alopecia round the sides! Have found time to finish Midnight's Children. An absolute smash, must be frustrating to produce your best book first of all, but this is a truely magic piece of work. I suspect that Mauritius and perhaps Georgetown (in Malaysia) will be about as physically close to India as I will get on this trip, but with Rushdie for company, I feel like a native!
Soon I will be off, but not quite itchy enough yet.