Merveille Du Sud

When I’m back home in Mauritius, there is much more I enjoy doing than staying at home usually sitting in the hallway and reading a book – I’m the reason there are carpets and cushions everywhere in the house – and enjoying the silence and privacy which practically don’t exist here in my yurt in Turkey. Although that literally is mostly what I ended up doing during the first two weeks I was back home over summer (or winter in the Southern Hemisphere – that always gets people confused). One of my favourite spots to go to is to Mahébourg, a small “town” on the southeast coast of the island, somewhere I had been going as a child with my dad to watch the Regatta race every year while stuffing myself with all the yumminess from the food stalls there. I’ve had a thing for boats since and working on a boat for some time definitely falls into my bucket list.

Mahebourg Waterfront
Mahebourg Waterfront

The last time I was there, I ventured outside the market and waterfront area to go to the National History Museum which is just 10 minutes away and which documents all the epic battles between the French Navy and the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars – France’s only naval victory during this period. I’m not entirely sure why people think I’m crazy when I visit museums in Mauritius (which are tiny compared to museums in Europe and here in Turkey but as important in terms of history and quite enjoyable to be honest).

Loose canon, take cover!
Loose canon, take cover!
One of the many ships that went past Mahebourg during the colonial times.
One of the many ships that went past Mahebourg during the colonial times.
The epic battles in pictures.
The epic battles in pictures.

It has definite changed since the last time I visited, now including the history of the old railways in Mauritius during the British colonial rule.

The island was definitely better connected back in the days.
The island was definitely better connected back in the days.
Old rusty train carriage
Old rusty train carriage
The old Mahebourg Railway Station, now a place where creeps hang out
The old Mahebourg Railway Station, now a place where creeps hang out

The walk down the waterfront area is quite pleasant on a good day – unless the winds are against you – with the beautiful landscape that Mauritius is most well known for. It’s even better with some typical Mauritius snacks that are usually sold on market day – Mondays, if I’m not wrong – or the hawkers hanging around on the other day. When I’m down at Mahebourg, I usually HAVE to get myself some merveille which I would describe as being a crispy flatbread with tomato chutney and tamarind sauce spread on it. It’s hands down the best I’ve ever had on the island and would gladly take a bus down to Mahebourg just to eat that – oh, I usually do that.

Typical scenery at the waterfront
Typical scenery at the waterfront
Believe it or not, someone lives there.
The Mouchoir Rouge (Red Handkerchielf) island, named after the red roof of the house. Believe it or not, someone lives there. I think.
Cloudy on the mountainous side, where the Grand Port range at the back
Cloudy on the mountainous side, where the Grand Port range at the back, with the Lion Mountain on the right.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the same with some confits (pickles). The chayote pickles, or chouchou confits as we call then in Mauritius, are to die for and I usually get extremely disappointed if they don’t have any. Depending on the season, you can get pickled mangoes, cucumbers, pineapples and olives. No wonder I get extreme acne outbreak whenever I go back home, with all that I eat.

Mauritian yumminess
Mauritian yumminess
Enjoying some yummy merveille
Enjoying some yummy merveille

And finally some coconut water to wash down everything. Usually after drinking, you can give the fruit back to the vendor so they can open it for you to enjoy some fresh coconut flesh.

Fresh coconuts
Fresh coconuts
Not sure what to focus on!
Not sure what to focus on!

2014-07-31 15.45.35

The coast down at Mahébourg is not protected by any reefs so it can be quite dangerous for swimming. Blue Bay beach is quite close however and you can easily hop on a bus there from the bus station. On weekdays, you might even have the whole lagoon to yourself which is when I tend to go there rather than weekends when it’s completely packed.

A little escape to Blue Bay
A little escape to Blue Bay

On the way, if I’ve had time to arrange the trip and con my ex-colleague and very good friend into accompanying me – usually she’d do the arrangements to be honest after a lot of bugging and pleading – I’d make a stop at Ile aux Aigrettes, a small offshore island off about 850 m off the coast. Unlike the mainland which is of volcanic origin, it’s made up of coral limestone and is home to the last of the dry coastal forest that was once found around most of coastal Mauritius. The island is also a nature reserve and home to several endemic species, including Giant Tortoises. You can arrange to have an “ecotour” with the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation. We usually like being left to our own devices and can get lost around explore the island as long as we want – the joys of being part of the organisation.

View of the island from the jetty
View of the island from the jetty
We're just being spoiled now
We’re just being spoiled now
Is this the entrance to Paradise?
Is this the entrance to Paradise?
Naughty tortoises
Naughty tortoises
They don't bite. Most of the time!
They don’t bite. Most of the time!
You may even see a Pink Pigeon or two...
You may even see a Pink Pigeon or two…
The mountains from the island
The mountains from the island

Now I’m really missing some tropical sun. Can winter be over soon?

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