The next morning I woke up already at 5.45 am and then I got up, washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on some clothes, and then I went for a walk on the beach. Let me make something clear. I absolutely don’t have a habit of waking up this early and even less of getting up at that time of the day. Still, on the one hand, my bed was placed in such a way that I was woken up by the light coming from the window of the kitchenette that was a part of our room and, on the other hand, on my travels I have learned to be ready to get up even this early. I will write about this life’s lesson when I tell the story about my journey in Central America.
Needless to say, I was yawning a lot when I left my room, but basically I did not mind at all getting up that early. While I was walking along the road that was leading from our hotel to the beach I could see that the asphalt was still wet since it had obviously rained the night before.
The rainy season on Mauritius lasts from November to April. January is the warmest month with the average temperatures around 30 degrees C. The dry season goes from May to October. The temperature is around 24 degrees C on an average and there is no rainfall then. Still, the main tourist season is from November through January and in August, because this all coincides with the main vacation and holiday seasons in Europe. In the previous sequel of my travel story I have said that a cyclone passed here a few days before our arrival and there was more precipitation then, while on the beach we came across quite a lot of torn leaves, small branches... Even on our way from the airport to the hotel it rained relatively heavily.
When I got to a street and a wider area covered in sporadic trees that led from the main road to the Trou-aux-Biches beach, I saw a lot of tents in-between those trees. It was a weekend and this suggested that a number of local inhabitants came here to spend some leisurely time and rest during non-work days. The beach is public. There are several segments that have hotels, even a bigger one with 5 stars, and individual visitors cannot use the hotel sunbeds, of course, but the beach is public, nonetheless, with a lot of parts that were spacious enough for everybody to be on the beach, without crowding up.
This is the main access to the Trou-aux-Biches beach
The sand was very fine and soft. I have already said, in places it was as if one walked on flour, that’s how soft it was, so I took my foam clogs off, fastened them to my waist bag and then continued slowly to walk in the part that was wetted by small waves.
The Trou-aux-Biches beach early in the morning
As it was still very early, the colours were subdued. Since there were still clouds in the sky this morning, above the ocean in the west it was obviously raining, while the Sun was starting to rise up above the horizon on the other side of the island, a rainbow appeared in the sky.
Rainbow seen from the Trou-aux-Biches beach early in the morning
Rainbow seen from the Trou-aux-Biches beach early in the morning
Enjoying in the peace of the early morning on an almost deserted beach, I got to its end eventually. The sand was no longer fine there, moreover there were a lot of tiny fragments of broken seashells, so this pricked me while walking. Luckily, I had my foam clogs with me, so I was safe.
Tiny fragments of broken seashells cannot be seen in the photo, but they are certainly felt when one is barefoot
The very end of the beach
Here I thought I would get to another beach, Mont Choisy, that is famous for being very beautiful, but I didn’t. While somehow trying to get there on foot, I had to improvise and walk through not too interesting coastal sections where there were several bigger or smaller resorts, villas and boarding houses, but I realised that although that beach was realistically not too far away, I was not in the mood to go all the way there.
Section between the beaches
So I simply turned back and went again to the Trou-aux-Biches beach.
I’m coming from there
Almost at the very end of the beach, there is a metal and wooden pier from which boats go for excursions and rides.
Pier on the Trou-aux-Biches beach
While I was venturing into those uninteresting sections trying to reach the Mont Choisy beach, the Sun had come up a little and now there were more people on the beach who were either just walking there or jogging.
Morning recreation on the Trou-aux-Biches beach
When I brought my morning walk to the end, judging by the time I had spent in that activity, I realised I walked for some 5 km and was very content with that. In addition, my pleasure was made complete also by the glorious sights I was surrounded with, especially since the colours started to be more pronounced as the Sun was climbing up across the firmament. It was still comparatively early, but considering that the Trou-aux-Biches is on the west coast, the sunlight was coming strongly from the background of the palm trees that grew by the beach.
The Trou-aux-Biches beach
I went back to our hotel and there, just like beside the beach, it was wonderful to hear the resonating of sounds of birds. Admittedly, while at the hotel I could also hear the crowing of some roosters from the houses nearby. On the other hand, this early, there was almost nobody at the hotel’s courtyard (and even a couple of us who happened to be there were decent enough to be very quiet), so it was also normal that with the silence of human activities, the birds’ song became more pronounced.
By the time I got back, Sneža had woken up, so we got ready and went for breakfast. After the breakfast we sat in an open-air lounge in order to finish with our morning coffee. We were not alone. While we were there, some small birds often came very close apparently quite used to the human presence.
Red-whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)
Red fody (Foudia madagascariensis)
And it was also pleasant to sit there since we were surrounded by different flowers.
Following the breakfast and this coffee break, I got ready relatively quickly and went back again to the beach, but this time with intention to swim and sunbathe. I was later joined by Sneža. The sky was a bit cloudy, but that did not matter as far as the temperature went. The only reason why I thought this was a shame was that because of the reflection the colour of the water was not completely turquoise and “tropical.” My rhythm that day though was the same as the previous day – beach in the morning, hotel and shade around noon and in the early afternoon, with beach again later in the afternoon.
The following morning I got up very early again and went for a walk on the beach. This morning, too, I was not sufficiently awake, so I yawned often. As the beach was practically deserted that early and I, despite that early rising and walking, was actually lazy, I could not be bothered to put my hand to the mouth every time I yawned. At one such inglorious moment, while I was inhaling as much air as possible with my jaws wide spread, hoping to get awoken better with an increased quantity of oxygen, I realised I was walking past that big hotel and there I noticed a younger man who was watching me and then we both burst into laughter. Then we also chatted a little. Barack worked at that hotel on some maintenance jobs, so throughout my stay on Mauritius and during those morning walks we occasionally saw and greeted each other, chatting from time to time.
As opposed to the previous morning when it was possible to see some blue patches in the sky, this time around the sky was completely covered in dense and occasionally dark gray clouds which suggested rain.
Trou-aux-Biches beach early in the morning when it is cloudy
Trou-aux-Biches beach early in the morning when it is cloudy
This time I also went on that metal-wooden pier in order to see the beach itself better.
View at the Trou-aux-Biches beach from the pier
On my way back I took advantage of a fine spot where I could position my photo-camera and make a couple of “selfies.” A nice memory of a cloudy morning.
On the Trou-aux-Biches beach
Just as I was finishing with my walk all of a sudden a heavy shower started. I hid under a parasol which belonged to that big hotel and which despite being made of dry palm leaves protected me quite well.
I think the downpour may be seen
While I was passively standing there, hiding from the rain, there were other visitors to the beach who paid absolutely no attention to the weather events.
I’m jogging in the rain...
In addition to those on “dry” land, it was wonderful to see a man who was in the water and for a short while he swam while lying on his back, swinging both arms at the same time, while the rain obviously poured over his face. Then he turned on his stomach and continued with his slow swim, but this all seemed very inspiring to me and appeared as if the man did not have a care in this world.
I’m swimming in the rain...
Since the morning did not seem promising in terms of the weather, it was cloudy with short showers, after a late breakfast and coffees, we decided not to go to the beach this morning, but rather to take a bus that serves as local public transportation and go to the north of the island to a place called Grand Baie where there are several public beaches, as well as a large cove with the Grand-Baie public beach full of boats.
Cove in Grand Baie
Because of a larger number of beaches and developed infrastructure, this is quite a touristy place. Therefore, there are a lot of hotels, restaurants, yachting clubs, places that organise sea excursions, as well as a lot of houses and buildings with a couple of floors, as if it were a smaller town, and therefore there was more traffic than near our hotel. Also, there were a lot of shops here and I found it particularly interesting that one of the more popular products bought here by tourists were – cashmere sweaters! Needless to say, cashmere goats do not live in the tropics, but apparently, the wool is imported and then used here in order to manufacture sweaters. This makes these truly wonderfully soft, light and yet warm sweaters much cheaper here than in Western Europe from which most of the visitors come.
While walking leisurely beside the main road that more or less followed the coastline, we made breaks in order to have coffee and I also stopped at an internet café. We also entered a few shops just to see what was on offer and what we could possibly buy as presents for family and friends. And so, the time passed and we got hungry, and then we also had lunch. Meanwhile it drizzled from time to time, but this did not interfere with our walk in the least.
Then we came across a Hindu temple and since both of us are great fans of India we certainly had to stop here as well.
Main entrance into the area of a Hindu temple in Grand Baie
A Hindu temple on Mauritius is actually not unusual at all, since almost 50% of the population of this island state are Hindus. Over 30% belong to different Christian churches, while a little less than 20% are Muslims.
Of course, this influence of Hinduism and India is also reflected on food, so there are a lot of Indian restaurants on the island, as well as Indian elements in the dishes traditionally prepared on Mauritius and therefore we both found the food here delicious.
At some point, we got at our hotel a sheet of paper with a couple of recipes that I tried upon my return home. Here is an exceptionally simple one: this is Tandoori Chicken or rather – grilled chicken. Undoubtedly, the recipe comes from India, but it has been transferred to Mauritius as well and this was precisely where I got it. By the way, tandoori is the name for a special clay oven, but as the recipe provides itself, in the absence of the original tandoori, it is quite ok to prepare the chicken either on a grill or in a regular oven.
Tandoori Chicken, served with rice and chard
- 1 kg chicken cut into pieces (I used deboned chicken legs)
- 5 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
- 2 tbsp of yoghurt
- 1/2 glass of beer
- 1 tsp each of the following spices: ground ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander seeds, ground paprika (could also be used the hot version depending on the taste), turmeric, salt, ground pepper
In a bowl, mix the chicken, garlic and yoghurt, then add the beer and the spices. Mix it all well and leave at room temperature to marinate for some 20 minutes. Then bake on grill (or in a grill-pan with some oil) or in an oven.
While continuing with our casual stroll, we got to a beach in the western section of the large cove in Grand Baie. In such cloudy weather, the beach did not seem too attractive, but it was interesting because from there it was possible to see the exit from the cove and a little farther away an islet that belongs to Mauritius – Gunner’s Quoin (Le Coin de Mire), which is located 8 km north of the main island.
Grand Baie’s cove and Gunner’s Quoin in the distance
This islet made of basalt rocks is not earmarked for visits, since there is a nature reserve on it on account of a significant number of birds that nest there.
As I’m mentioning birds, I could say that at least the inhabitants of Mauritius would have to be sensitive to these issues and the survival of birds in general. Namely, Mauritius was the home of the famous dodo bird, a cousin of the pigeon. The dodo was a flightless bird, but more importantly it was endemic on Mauritius, i.e., as far as it is known this was its only habitat. On the basis of the discovered subfossiles it has been concluded that the height of an adult was around 1 m, while the weight went up to around 15 kilos. This bird that had no natural enemies on the island constituted an easy source of fresh meat for European sailors and when at some point the Dutch founded a penal colony here, they also introduced some animal species that started to destroy dodos’ eggs. As the saying goes, the rest is the history... The first dodo bird was recorded in 1598, while the last known specimen was killed in 1681. This really makes one uncomfortable and ashamed for belonging to the Homo sapiens. As a species it took us less than 100 years to annihilate them completely. By the way, the dodo is not the only extinct bird species on Mauritius, but it is certainly the most famous.
After this short break on the beach in order to take photos, Sneža and I continued on foot and a couple of kilometres later we got to the Mont Choisy beach.