Mauritius 2014, part 6

After Sneža and I unexpectedly found each other in Port Louis and following a break with freshly squeezed fruit juices, we went to a market. Along the way we passed by shopping malls, but we were not interested in them in the least, opting rather to go to a proper market, a bazaar. In fact, we went to the Central Market, although this entire area is full of different small shops. As is customary on markets, there were a lot of fruits and vegetables here, but I also found some dresses made of light flower-pattern fabric which I bought for my mom and her best friend.

Although they were not necessarily the same, and the models of the dresses were significantly different, these colourful fabrics reminded me of the “costumes” worn by girls who dance to sega (music). Sega is typical of islands in the Indian Ocean. It originated from the slaves on Mauritius, although it has its roots on Madagascar, and then it spread to Reunion, the Seychelles and a couple of other islands. Nowadays, this is the traditional music of Mauritius. It is very rhythmic and the main moves are done by hips which are followed by the rest of the body, while the legs serve mostly to keep the balance. The girls usually have a small top, but the skirt is ankle long and enormous. This is the so-called double circle skirt. What I want to say is that there is a lot of fabric, but the fabric is light, the girls pick up the ends of the skirt and then flap them around while waving in the rhythm of sega.

Well, these dresses that I bought absolutely did not look anything like these skirts, the cut was incredibly basic and simple, but the fabric was colourful, with flower pattern, bright colours and very, very light. I thought this was the right gift from Mauritius for my mom and her friend that they could use when it’s very hot in Belgrade during summers.

After this short stop for shopping, Sneža and I headed for the place where we could catch a bus back to Trou-aux-Biches, but on our way we also passed by the Jummah Mosque (Jummah Masjid). I have already mentioned that almost 20% of the inhabitants of Mauritius are Muslims and this mosque was built during the 1850’s.

Jummah Masjid

Then we returned to Trou-aux-Biches and went to the hotel to leave our things, but on our way there I noticed a very special tree right close to the hotel. In fact, the tree itself was not interesting at all, but like a Christmas tree is was “decorated” with round “puffs” made of grass. These were nests of the village weavers (Ploceus cucullatus). I was absolutely delighted with my “discovery.”

Village weavers’ nests

Two village weavers’ beside their nest

I don’t have professional photo equipment for taking photos of nature and such details, but here I was like mesmerised, so I got into some tall grass in order to be able to see better and take photos of the situation in the treetop.

Village weaver and its nest

Village weaver and nests

After this short break which I made, I went back to the room where Sneža was waiting for me and then together we went to the beach. Although it was late in the afternoon, there was still light and so we enjoyed the swim. The water was fresh and great, while the sky with the setting Sun was enchanting again.

Like every day, the beach was followed by shower and rinsing away of the salt, and then we had dinner. After that we also went for a walk to the nearby supermarket, but it had already been closed. This also marked the end of the activities for the day.

The next day I felt more sleepy and heavy than usual, but since I did wake up completely in a way, I decided to go for a walk on the beach anyway. This time the walk was somewhat shorter since I did not bring my photo-camera and I had fewer stops, but all the time I felt somewhat drowsy. I returned to the hotel already around 7 and soon I went to have breakfast. After that, Sneža and I sat on the balcony for some time sipping the coffees we could make in the kitchenette that was an integral part of our room and then I went to the supermarket to get us bottled water and some other minor things. When all of that was done, I was ready to go to the beach where I spread our towels and had a good swim. After I also walked a little by the water in order to dry and then finally I sat down on my beach towel.

There I wrote my travel diary for a while. By the way, if anybody is interested, this is one of the sources of data about my past travels. There is no way I would otherwise remember all the details that I mention in my travel stories from the past. On the other hand, sometimes I think that I was meant to have a travel blog, for almost without exception I have been keeping these diaries during my travels for years. Now I’m only systematising all of that.

So, while I was writing in that diary of mine, holding the notebook on my knees, from time to time I raised my glance and the sight in front of me was breath-taking: beige or off-white sand beach, with green-turquoise water and small waves that only brought the rhythm and sound into the picture, and then towards the horizon belts of turquoise-green and dark blue colour, which all eventually ended with a thick line of marine blue above which started the sky with its nuances of blue and fluffy clouds.

Mauritius beach

Then I realised that this was definitely what I wanted to do and the place in which I wanted to do “that” for the rest of my vacation. Including that day, I still had six days, while on the sixth day I was to travel back home in the evening. Although Sneža and I talked about visiting some other beaches in the north of the island, on this occasion I made a decision that I would no longer do any visits on Mauritius. A good thing about Sneža and I is that we are both autonomous enough that we can take decisions also independently one from the other and if a decision of one does not fit into the decision of the other, we can both go our own ways.

So, that was it. I came to Mauritius to have a good rest while enjoying in a beautiful beach with fine and soft white sand and spectacular, clear, but seemingly turquoise water, and this beach fit the bill. It was perfect.

And now I have to give a small side note and tell a story about a conversation that took place several months after my stay on Mauritius. On that occasion I was talking with an acquaintance that I was often in touch with at the time and she told me then that she was surprised at “how quickly I got over the death of my father” probably taking into account the fact that I went to Mauritius two and a half months after the death of my dad.

First of all, bearing in mind my relationship with my parents whom, whenever I was in Belgrade, I saw every day and I spoke with them on the phone a couple of times a day, I suppose that some people around me thought I was “too” attached to them. What I don’t think that these people understood well was that to start with I outgrew a long time ago the “eternal adolescence” – blaming one’s parents for everything in one’s life even when people are physically well into adulthood. That’s easy. Taking on the responsibility for one’s own life is the true challenge one has to face. In addition, my relationship with my parents was primarily a reflection of my deep conviction that we should be close and dedicated to the people in our lives, whether they are our parents, children, family, partners or friends. While we are alive, it makes sense. Afterwards, nothing matters.

Second of all, I was not aware that there was some unofficial competition in the length of the mourning after the death of a close person, which my acquaintance suggested with her stupid and pointless comment. Still, in order to explain to her that the place where we are has nothing to do with the deep feelings I told her about what happened to me precisely on that morning when I was sitting on that beach with absolutely full awareness that this was a perfect beach for me in which I intensely enjoyed. That acquaintance was the first person I had ever told that and now I’m sharing this segment of my deep intimacy with all those who are reading this.

So, while I was sitting like that on the beach writing my diary and occasionally lifting my gaze, at some point I saw an elderly gentleman getting out of the water right there in front of me. Although I looked at him quite leisurely, in a moment my eyes noticed a tiny scar on the right side of his torso and in a matter of a second or two I realised that the man had a pacemaker. The next thought was: “My dad also had a pacemaker” and then tears started to pour down my face and I spent the next two hours in that heaven on earth crying my eyes out because my dad had died and he was no longer in my life.

After those two hours the episode slowly got to its end and my life simply continued to go on following its path. Because this is what life does – it goes on.

This meant spending of the next few days mostly on the beach without any unusual events. Admittedly, almost every day I chatted a little with Luigi, an Italian I met during my morning walks already at the very beginning of my stay. Since he was retired, he was spending his six months on Mauritius by renting a house close to the beach and then he often walked up and down the beach. Sometimes I saw him with a strong plastic bag which he carried when buying fish which the local fishers brought to the beach in their boats from the fresh night catch. Luigi was alone there and since I speak Italian it was nice distraction for him to kill the time by chatting with me. I cannot complain: it was fun for me, too.

Like a true Italian, he started courting me and giving me compliments from day one. He expressed his admiration without hindrance, inviting me to be his guest either there or in Rome and he even claimed he would “marry me if I wanted it.” I must admit that I did not take any of that seriously, but it felt pleasant. It was especially fun when he started at one point to brush up and fine-tune a verbally expressed image of how he saw me. To him my name, which he pronounced as Verace sounded like Venere (Venus in Italian) and according to him these were not synonyms – they were simply the same! And so he went on embellishing that phrase by suggesting Venus coming out of water, but he hesitated about the selection of the right verb. So I prompted: “Venere viene o nasce?” (Venus is coming or is born?), to which he quite seriously said: “No, no, no... “ And then it dawned on him. In my case it had to be Venere sorge... – Venus is rising, and so on. He also insisted that the men in the given expression could not “adore” me, but rather had to be “filled with adoration.” And so, after a few days of debate about the nuances in the meaning we came to: “Venere sorge dell’acqua mentre gli uomini la guardano adoranti!” The meaning is actually not important at all for anybody except perhaps for myself and although I sincerely approached this from a distance, linguistically and as a language-related challenge, I must emphasise that I laughed a great deal about this, plus I think that Luigi also found this to be great fun.

After a couple of days I got up early again and went for a walk on the beach. The time to return home was getting close and I wanted to spend each available moment enjoying the place where I was staying. After all, I did not find it difficult to wake up that early in the morning, for I went to bed very early, so regardless of the yawning I had had enough hours of sleep and in fact every walk felt good.

The Sun has still not reached the Trou-aux-Biches beach

By the time I got here, the sunrays are starting to pass through the lush vegetation

The day is well on its way now...

... and by the time I finished my walk the beach is starting to dazzle

Following the amazement with the village weavers and their nests, I paid a little more attention to local birds these days. Thus, in the treetops I regularly saw red fodies (Foudia madagascariensis. In the case of this lovely bird, only the breeding male is red, while the female is olive-gray-brownish and the still young male is somewhat yellowish.

Red fody, adult male

Red fody, non-breeding male

Red fody: in the middle there is an adult male that looks as if he were wearing the mask of Zorro, while a little up there is a female

However, the birds were not only in the treetops, but also on the fence walls where humans had left some food for them. And when it comes to food, the nice manners then fly through the window.

Village weavers and red fodies

When there’s food, some land even on the heads of the others

Village weavers and red fodies

And, of course, I had to pass again by that big tree with a myriad of village weavers’ nests and here is a short video about it:

Since I’m talking about birds, let me also mention the Mauritius kestrel (Falco punctatus) that I did not see, but that actually is beside the point. This endemic bird species lives in the forests and on the cliffs in the southwest of the island and at some point it came down to only four known specimens one of which was a breeding female. Thanks to some serious efforts, the species has recovered and, as I’ve read, around 400 birds of this species were recorded in 2019. For this reason, this entire conservation project is considered as one of the most successful and best documented in the world. Bravo!

But, in addition to the birds, there were a lot of plants in our neighbourhood, including one lush jasmine bush that had enchanting scent. I did not take any photos of it, but there were different flowers that decorated the courtyard of our hotel. On Mauritius and the nearby islands there are four types of endemic hibiscus, although I don’t believe that the following one from our hotel’s garden was one of them.

Hibiscus from the hotel’s yard

Flowers from the hotel’s yard

Flowers from the hotel’s yard

As a supplement to this short segment of the story concerning the living world on Mauritius, let me mention that almost every evening we had guests in our room. Tiny, by persistent.

Gecko on the wall of our room beside a lamp

Verica Ristic

Born and lives in Serbia. Free-lance interpreter/translator for English, but also speaks other languages (this helps a LOT when travelling). Grateful to the Universe for everything.

Belgrade, Serbia

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