Day 80

Today we docked outside of Port Louis, Mauritius, an island nation, several hundred miles east of Madagascar, but still part of Africa. The Dutch discovered it in the 1500’s and managed to exterminate the flightless dodo bird in just over a hundred years. The French took it over in 1735, followed by the British in 1810. French language and influence is dominant, but Mauritians drive on the left, from British days. Independence was granted in 1968 when Mauritius became a republic.

We were on an 8 hour excursion to Explore the Colorful South, beginning at 8:45. We were divided into about 6 or 8 groups of 15 in mini-buses for this scenic tour. Our first stop was at Trou Aux Cerfs, stopping at the ancient volcanic crater, now with a lake at the bottom and viewing surrounding mountain ranges. The tallest mountain (hill ???) is Piton De La Petite Riviere Noire at 828 meters high. All the mountains look huge because they are rising from sea level, where other U.S. mountains may start at several thousand feet high in elevation. The mountain views would have been more spectacular if someone had trimmed the tall bamboo stocks that interfered with our photos.

Next stop was the Grand Basin sacred lake and temple. There were huge statues of the gods Shiva and Draco not far from the temple complex. We were able to go inside after removing our shoes, and some actually received a blessing with a red mark on their foreheads. As we walked around the area, we saw monkeys, coming down from the surrounding trees to steal the bananas and other fruit offerings being left for the gods. We watched these for a while, even spotting a mother with her baby clinging underneath her.

The Black River Gorges viewpoint in the national park was our next stop. This was a lovely area with a 300 foot waterfall and lush, green, gorge. The weather held out, as this area gets massive annual rainfall.

Lunch was at the Varangue sur Morne restaurant a short distance away. We (about a hundred of us) ate on the outside patio area amid beautiful scenery and gardens. We had a nice chicken meal (a bit spicy for me), and walked briefly around the gardens before returning to our buses. On the way, I found a huge snail, picked it up, but decided it was too big for escargot.

The Chamarel Waterfalls were only a short distance away and we had an upper and lower viewpoint for these. Right down the road was an area called Seven Colored Earth, multi-colored volcanic sand dune area reminding me a bit of our Painted Desert in Arizona. By then it had begun to rain-hard, so we waited for it to let up a bit. The colors were still vibrant, but may have been more so in the sun. There were also some tortoises here (from the Seychelles) to watch as they tried to get out of their enclosure. There is a very large 200 year old tortoise named Domino elsewhere on the island.

Our final stop was at the Le Morne viewpoint for a photo stop. Our ride back to the ship took almost 2 hours with traffic and more rain. We arrived about 5PM and had missed trivia. We had to pick up our passports because we need them tomorrow in Reunion.

After a shower and a little down time, we went to Sette Mare for dinner. We just happened to see Lisa and Morey and invited them to join us. We had a delightful meal and finished just in time to make the 9:30 show. Terry Bishop was performing again with his Getting on a Bit songs, comedy and singalongs about growing old. He was hilarious, as usual.

Tomorrow is another full day excursion for us in Reunion.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac

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