Hey all please enjoy my Blog posts, most are just photo Blogs
My partner Ingrid and I were invited to her cousins sons wedding, on the sub tropical island of Mauritius, so we thought that was a good enough reason for a winter holiday on the sub tropical island.
The stories and experiences are all around my images, hope you enjoy.
First day it was raining but warm tropical rain, so went for a drive out to the beach at Le Morne, on the East coast, it looked nice in the tourist book, when we finally found the beach access it was a spectacular beach, almost deserted because of the rain, apart from us and a scuba diver, who turned out to be ‘Vik’ the ‘Sea Urchin Master’
We were given a demonstration on how to prepare the delicacy and vital aphrodisiac for the couples in the hotel, as you can see Ingrid was quite surprise to feel the creature wiggle around on her hand.
Le Morne became quite a favourite with us, the beach is very peaceful not too many tourists, says me.
It is one of those beaches that is just hanging on as a public beach, and out of the clutches of the big hotels that line kilometre after kilometre of the coastline, not owning the beaches, but blocking a vast amount of access, but thats another story and one being addressed now in the country, but maybe a bit too late.
Apart from that Le Morne, is adorned with stunning beaches with a grasses banks lined with trees to give the needed shade, there is plenty of swimming and snorkelling in relative safety from pleasure boats, something that isn’t too clever on other beaches. You wont be hassled to go on a boat trip on this beach, but you will meet groups of local people on a stop over on their various coach trips, I had a play on the drums, not too well but the kids found it funny.
There are the standard toilet blocks and various little places to buy fresh fruit, ice cream and Mauritian street food, Dhal Pouri, Gateaux Piment, samosa and more, before you eat anything else try these, there is no going back and they are fresh and cheap and extremely addictive . A lot of the restaurants on the island cater for tourists so the food is a bit lame. Le Morne Brabant I had the clever idea one day to try and swim out to where the waves break, it was taking a while, then I was waved back by a local fisherman, glad I headed his warning as I was about to in theory swim off the edge of the world, well edge of the coral into the deep ocean (idiot) If you check out Le Morne on google earth there is a underwater waterfall illusion, I was heading there.
On my swim back I needed a few rests, floating on my back where I took a snap of the mountain Le Morne Brabant, which holds a sad past, from the very top slaves jumped to their death after mishearing the drums of freedom for a warning sign, at the base of the mountain is a memorial representing statues from the countries the slaves originated from.
I would defy anyone not to enjoy Le Morne.
Just down the road (direction Flic en Flac) is the quaint fishing town of Tamarin, a very quite beach missed by most tourists, the beach is made up of two parts, seashells on one side and golden sand on the other connect by a short crossing on foot of an inlet.
Tamarin The sea has small waves rolling in ideal for body boarding and beginners surfing, there is the safety of lifeguards at this beach because in strong winds the currents can become very dangerous.
There are a few shops where you can buy Mauritian street food Gateaux Piment , Dahl poori, samosas by the way this is all you need to eat washed down with a bottle of Fanta. Close to the fish landing station many local fishermen return to the beach in the early afternoon with their catch of mainly blue and yellow tuna, all caught with a line, all in all this is a very cool little beach well worth the visit.
Local fisherman making fish nets out of hand carved cane, lovely bloke.
Basket weaving Then on to Flic en Flac and what was our home beach, after traveling around the island and being disappointed with the beaches of Blue Bay and Mont Choisey, you can’t go too far wrong with this beach.
Sunset Flic en Flac The beach its self is made up of crushed shells coral and sand, with a tree lined area for ample shade.
Swimming and snorkelling are wonderful and for a beginner more than enough, also because of the shallow waters boats don’t come too close.There is ample places to eat for cheap on the beach along with the freshest fruits. Pineapple, lychee, mangos cucumbers and more.
We had a day of rest from the beach and drove a very simple tourist trip, that took in the sights of Plaine Champagne, Grand Bassin and the coloured sands.
On route to Chamarel we stoped on the highway at Casa Noyale a typically creole town basically made up of corrugated steel shacks, but set in the most beautiful surroundings on the coast and with the mountains in the distance.
Casa Noyale The developers must be desperate to kick these Creole people out and build another five star resort, but when you take in consideration the surroundings and temperatures plus the fresh food available, do you need anymore than a tin shack?
As per usual the street food and fruit was amazing, and worth taking as a picnic for the trip.
As you turn off the Chamarel road you-imitatly begin the climb to Plaine Champagne a twisty road with many hairpins, and some spectacular views on the way.
On the way up At the top I have to say the view was magnificent, but you don’t need to spend too long there.
Plaine Champagne The next stop was Grand Bassin a massive Hindu temple with the biggest gods I have every seen. Hindu temples are very simple and spiritual with a god for every need.
Jain God A walk down the hill will take you to the lake which is a representation of the Ganges and there to offer prayers to Mother Ganga the lake is filled to the brim with fish, and statues of gods adorn the shores, we were blessed at the temple (for a donation) worth it though so many gods one must help me Ha! Back in the car to Chamarel the site of the seven coloured sands where the earth cooled down at different temperatures to create the sands, probably only need to spend 30mins here, there are some big tortoises but from what I will inform you later, will tell you these are not the best looked after or respected animals on the island.
Seeing that you need to drive back down the way you came it would have been rude to not have a swim on the way home, always take your swimming things with you.
Le aux Aigrettes
This is a conservation island that needs to be booked through their site as only a certain amount of people are allowed on the island at one time, this is a step back in time to what the real Mauritius might have looked like.
The guides are wonderfully knowledgeable and enthusiastic, unfortunately most of the native wildlife in Mauritius is extinct including the famous Dodo, which was driven to extinction by both its own stupidity and mans greed.
Dodo The giant tortoises (Aldabra) now are not native but rescue tortoises or tortoises from the Seychelles, but they do now have a healthy breeding programme and introduce the creatures to other protected islands.
The tortoises are just beautiful and we were informed how the animals spine is connected to its shell, so this is why people should not bang on the shell or scratch their name in it as seen with other tortoises elsewhere. Instead gently stoke them and they will stand up and enjoy every moment its like a massage for them and a wonderful experience for you.
Telfair Skink (below) one of the few native breeds.
Tefair Skink There are some fascinating tree species on the island including the nail wood tree and others.
Pink Pigeon Mauritius has only three species of native bird left the Mauritian Fody, Olive white eyes and the famous Pink Pidgeon.
A relaxed rescue tortoise The stunning Pink Pidgeon which has been saved from extinction by a successful breeding program they are now back up to 90 after being down to only nine.
Below is a Ornate Day Gecko, another thriving native on the island. At Pont Desny where you disembark have a stroll around the beach to the right, it’s always windy but also stunning the turquoise sea and golden sands are breathtaking, the snorkelling is good also you will find live coral here.
Day Out With The Family
Ingrid has a large Mauritian family, so we were invited out for the day with Parmanand, her cousin and his wife Chitra and son Nirvan.
First to Parmanand's garden, its huge where along with his gardener are doing the very best to only plant native species and to grow them all organically, so fresh flowers for the house.
We first payed a visit to small temple at the beginning of a town, I was the only one of the group to be allowed in, because the others had eaten fish or meat,im so pure. Nirvan & Ingrid
Mother Ganga As you do in Mauritius we visited so friends of the family at their shop for snacks and drink, thank you.
Another temple in beautiful surroundings looking out towards Il de Surf another island dominated with large hotels, but of outstanding beauty.
Again Ile de Surf (below) is a stunning Island but with vast amounts of it taken up by hotels.
Ile de Surf
We visited the coast on the north of the island at Le Roche Noire, there is no coral reef here so the waves clatter into the rocks. We were lucky enough to see a group of sting rays close up, magnificent creatures, but deadly. Le Roche Noire
Seems like we were pretty lucky to see a group of Sting Rays (below) swimming close to the shore line
Sting Rays A secret little location below thanks to Nirvan.
On the way home we picked up some fresh water shrimps from these two lads on there impressive bike, then had a lengthy discussion at the next stop about the price of mangos, only 5 rupees yeah! but the good ones were 15 rupees Ha!
Fresh Shrimps Then back to the garden to pic some fresh vegetables for dinner Yum!
The dinner cooked by Chitra and the family was outstanding, and everything had either been grown or bought at the side of the road, what a fabulous day.
What a view from Parminands garden.
Well this is an interesting one, we booked a car to pick up at the airport, but there was no one there, so make sure you book through a company direct such as in Europcar, Thrify or others as there are unlicensed cars available, this is not a great idea as there are many police stops along roads, we were stopped twice for car documents and licence checks, always carry your licence with you, the police were pleasent enough ,checking for drink driving ( big problems) on the second time I had repeated high fives from a policeman for being a non drinker and a vegetarian.
I wouldn’t advise anyone to cycle on the roads, so dangerous also driving at night is not great the obsession to overtake and drink driving is aweful.When driving you need to expect the unexpected all the time and don’t drive before 10am or between 4&6pm the traffic is terrible.The road signs are pretty terrible a sat nav or map is recommended, when asking directions locals will tell you “Labba Labba” basically “up there” not much help Ha!There are many buses you can get but this also is pretty confusing, but bus travel is plentiful and the main means of transport due to there being no trains.If there for a long time maybe employing the services of a taxi driver is advised.
I was privalidged to get a look around Southsea artists 'My Dog Sighs' studio, his workspace was open as part of 'Created in Portsmouth' event, the plan was to get around all the artists studios, but it never happened oops!
These two will form part of a new gallery show in the near future
After a good chat I was persuaded to go and eat at the 'Tea Tray' well glad I did the best cuppa and scrambled eggs ever. The cafe is run by 'Fark' and is a hub for artists, and walls are arranged time was ticking by, so I popped round to have a chat with Rocky Rocks and 'Gary Stranger' while they were trying to eat, street artists love that Ha!
And thats it just time for a paddle and photo in the sea.
I was fortunate enough to visit Leuven artist ‘BISSER’S’ self organised expo ‘Lieve’ a show consisting of six pieces of exquisite work and a giant mural in the garden. All the exhibits have a story to tell about Leuven and a couple with a twist on the Leuven dialect.
Through the gallery window The sculpture Fons Sapientiae – "the source of wisdom" – is the work of sculptor Jef Claerhout.
Fonsie is shown with a book in one hand and a glass in the other, the contents of which – some say it's wisdom, some say it's beer – he pours into his head, at the time academics didn’t like the idea of beer being poured into the students head and settled for the wisdom option, ‘BISSER’ has gone back to the beer option with his paper masche sculpture.
Fiere Margriet, is a story of folk law, the teenage maid was attacked by thieves who tried to rape her, she fought back but they cut her throat and threw her in the river Dijle, the legend says she was carried by fish against the current, a moment of serenity as described by a monk.
‘BISSER’ has replaced the fish with litter thrown into the Dijle particularly the bikes that are thrown in by the thousands of students that inhabit the city.
Stadhuis Stadhuis, the Town Hall is an absolutely huge canvas that is still in progress but its outstanding and hopefully will takes its place in the city for all to see for the near future.
The star is a twist on the word ‘Stella’ as in ‘Stella Artois’ who have their home in Leuven.
Stella Artois-Star Funny enough the next piece represents the city’s love for beer, they even have their own beer ‘Cara pils” which i was informed is “cheaper than water”
Leuven loves beer The beautiful blue painting is simple a twist on the name of a street Blauwputgang ‘street in a blue hole’ Blauput'
Another treat was the sketch books, there is so much it will need to be in a separate blog post but here are just a few.
Well this was a great show and well worth the visit, the artist is trying to diversify in his work but the playing card collages are still fantastic as are the new works.
The curation of the exhibition was superb and had a real 'Alice in Wonderland' feel to it even a 'Mad Hatters Tea Party'
An added bonus was a free print, very generous.
Enjoy my images and get down there and have a look for yourselves.