Port Louis, Mauritius

Island Welcome

Mauritius is a beautiful volcanic island with a very recognizable mountain skyline.  The look is reminiscent of some of the south seas islands.  They grow a lot of sugar cane, but depend mostly on tourism for income.

Our tour today was through American Express, and part of it duplicated what we did here four years ago, but that was okay because the duplicate parts were things we really enjoyed.  Our guide was Kaveesh, who was a good guide.  He was knowledgeable and reasonably easy to understand.  His accent was basically Indian.  (The first sugar plantation workers were from Africa and Madagascar.  They were slaves.  When slavery was outlawed in 1835 about 500,000 Indian workers were imported.  Kaveesh is descended from them.) 

Our first stop was a model ship-building factory called Historic Marine.  They had many wonderful models on display, plus we got to walk through their workroom.  Unfortunately we were not able to see the people at work because we visited on a Sunday.  Other people saw a model ship factory that was nowhere near as nice as this one.  

Grand Baie was our next stop.  We went to the Bazaar de Grand Baie for a walk through and perhaps souvenir purchasing.  This was not a food market.  Just stalls and shops and a restaurant nearby.  We did learn that Mauritius was the home of the dodo bird.  This is where it went extinct.  Settlement brought predators that it could not cope with. 

Our next stop was at the sugar factory museum, one of the places we’d visited the last time.  The museum is actually built in an old sugar refinery.  Smokestacks from earlier day refineries are all over the landscape of Mauritius as reminders of the past.  Some are also museums and others just relics waiting for gravity and the elements to do their work.  This museum does a pretty good job of showing how the refining process works, but today there are just two or three huge refineries to handle the entire island's output of sugar cane.  Modernization and technology have made the older refineries obsolete.  This time we also had lunch at their open air restaurant, which was quite nice (for those who enjoy eating fish).  After lunch we spent some time on the grounds and in the gift shop.  They had tastings of several types of rum.  We tried 3 and bought a bottle.  They make 15 different types of sugar here and the rum is affected by the type used in fermentation..  We bought a bottle of the rum, made with muscovado sugar, which is very nice rum.  The molasses rum was also very good.

After lunch we went to the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, which is really more of an arboretum, since the majority of the plants are trees.  They do have a couple of patches of lotus plants, and one area with giant water lilies.  On our previous visit we did not find out that they had a group of deer or a group of giant tortoises like the ones in the Seychelles.  There was a baby among the tortoises that was really cute.

Overall, our impression of Mauritius is not too far from that of Mark Twain.  In the Sugar Factory Museum they had a quote from him:

Mauritius was made first and then heaven; heaven being copied after Mauritius."

More photos are available in the album.

Port Louis, Mauritius

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com