Thursday: We all walked into the big fruit and vegetable market in Port Louis and got some supplies. Very busy with a good range of food but very busy, noisy and god knows what we were walking in! Also very cheap. Oscar caught up with the Craven kids from Aretha who were very pleased to see him!
.Friday : Pete and I organised a rental car. Huw didn't want to share in it so he stayed around the waterfront and Oscar decided to have a lay day. Pete and I ventured out with two maps. One from the car company and one from the tourist office. They didn't match each other and didn't bear much relation to the actual roads! So we got quite lost. Ended up in the south around Marebourg which is where the airport is. It reminded us of Lombok as it seems to be the Muslim/Hindu end of things but with Catholic churches here and there amongst the temples and mosques. the building were old and shabby and the newer ones looked partly finished. The people had moved in to the finished bit and just left the rest! Bits of rusty reinforcing sticking out of the concrete with washing strung up from them and external stairs going nowhere sort of thing. It looked more like don't care than particularly poor.(I'm going to put up a series of pics of these at the end of Mauritius blog for anyone who is interested.) All the people were clean and well dressed but the sides of the roads and homes were a mess. It seems funny that someone in charge cares enough to make all the telephone towers be disguised as palm trees but doesn't care about the rest of the environment. Another example - in amongst loads of street rubbish (corrugated iron sheets, old tyres, plastic bags, wrecked furniture) there would be a brand new blue powder coated steel mesh recycling cage for plastic bottles....weird.
That evening was Happy Hour for the ARC people at the Le Suffren Hotel. John and Joyce from Star Blazer told us about an app for getting around.
Saturday: Went out to the Jumbo shopping centre to do some supermarket shopping. Oscar came with us and bought a wallet. He and Huw tried to watch some World Cup rugby but the other guys had all gone off for the night at a Yacht Club to watch it and they couldn't find anywhere local with it on TV. Pete and I decided to walk into town, Port Louis itself, to get a roti but after dark it was Pretty terrible and a bit dangerous seeming. We came back to the waterfront to the Labourdonnais Hotel for dinner . Very nice and 5 star. The waterfront part of Port Louis is quite new and very nice with a couple of large malls one with a craft market upstairs and many international brand stores. There are two underpasses into town where the change is remarkable. Ghastly decrepit old building but right next door to huge glass office towers.
Sunday: Pete and I went out in the car all day. We couldn't persuade Oscar into coming as there was more rugby on in the afternoon again! this time we had the map app which once downloaded for free showed where you are and nearly all the streets correctly! We went to Bois Cherie tea plantation and di the tour and museum and ended up with a very nice lunch in the lovely old mansion overlooking all the plantings. Then we went to St Aubin where they make an very smooth agricultural rum - a few tastings and purchase there! After that with no trouble at all thanks ot the app but no thanks to the local signage we found Rochester Falls. Very pretty and lovely and cool but a bit challenging on the terrain after a few rums! We also found a huge shopping centre at Bagatelle - all the super doper international brand clothing stores and a couple of good supermarkets. Also a Trader Joe's type food hall. good for our final shop before Reunion. The rugby was the Scotland Australia game that we won by one goal. Oscar was the only Australian in the Keg and Marlin so great fun for him. We offered to let him put up our boxing kangaroo flag but he didn't for some reason.
Monday: This was the organised ARC tour day. We all (Huw and Oscar finally left the waterfront) went off in three buses to a sugar plantation and shop and factory (more rum tasting!) It feels like I'm being followed around by More Park and Bundaberg, Cane everywhere on the low lands, cane trash on the boat and getting stuck behind cane trucks! It's much the same latitude here so when we all went to the botanic gardens and everyone is oohing and aaahing over mango trees I'm thinking yaaaawn. But we had a very interesting informative and amusing guide so it was fun. The gardens were huge and very well maintained and laid out. We also visited the Chateau Labourdonnais which whilst it's not a very big by chateau standards was pretty impressive considering everything had to come by ship from Europe. The restoration was very complex and extensive due to general neglect and cyclone damage.. Along the way we had a very enjoyable lunch - put a group of yachties down by a bar and ......
Tuesday: this was mostly dedicated to sewing the ripped sail! Joyce very kindly volunteers herself and a good old very sturdy sewing machine and we all worked on it. Pete took tme out to fix up a bit of a rudder problem caused by the Brisbane "rudder mechanics". there was not only the tears to sew but lots of little rips caused by it going over the lifelines trying to get it furled last time. So lots of sticky sail repair patches too. it's going to be the funniest looking sail on the high seas, But if it gets us to Richards Bay who cares. We won't need it down to Cape Town. Pete, Oscar and I all had haircuts. An interesting experience in the washing- they lie you down on a low contoured bed and your head ends up about table height on a sort of wooden washboard. The person then either stands up or scoots around the end on a wheelie stool and somehow you don't get a stiff neck or water anywhere in your eyes down your collar etc. Much more ergonomically nice than the usual version of things for both parties. Take up a bit more room though, but having said that when I think of the elaborate big cushioned massage things lots of Australian salons use - maybe not. On the subject, I've decided to let my hair go to whatever is natural for it these days (salt and pepper I expect) to see what happens. Interestingly if I think back over the last 40 years of hairdressers giving the impression that if I didn't get in there every 5 weeks pronto I'd be grey at my desk by lunchtime the next day - well it's taking months and months and months and still not there.
The Caudan Waterfront hosted a welcome/farewell thank you party for us which was very nice with some local dancers and lots of nibbles and then dinner. Terrible photos I'm sorry - should have taken my proper camera.
Wednesday: We all put in another few hours on the sail hand stitching over some of the sticky repair tape. Oscar Pete and I then went to Bagatelle to the Mall of Mauritus to do our supermarket shopping. It's very a quite impressive landscape with the huge vocanic mountains rising up unexpectedly from flat coastal lands. Lots of great walks all through them but we've run out of time . Both Pete and I would like to come back sometime when the boat is in a marina somewhere for hurricane months and really have a good look around and visit the neighbouring Rodrigues Island too. My French is quite good enough for here where everyone speaks English and French and a tourist version of Franglaise! they even drive on "our" side of the road. it may be a bit different in Reunion where there is no English spoken to speak of.
We had a skippers briefing that afternoon which turned into a huge tanoa bowl (that Dagma and Yens have carted around from Fiji) of rum punch and nibbles. After they had finished with the room that we have commandeered for a sail repair loft for the past 3 days, Pete and I stayed up till 11pm sewing an old length of sheet (rope) onto the luff of the gennaker to try to give it something a bit better to furl onto - we'll see on that.