If one thing or place were recommended by us to a visitor of Mauritius the honour would go to Casala. It’s basically a zoo but done exceptionally well. I would’ve happily spent the day cruising between seaside then mountain top villages and so was happy after leaving Casala that I had lost another debate with Moddy.
It has a fascinating diversity of birdlife but it’s not so much what is has but how it does it. The entire parks network of paths and pens is covered by umbrella shaped trees only allowing dappled sunlight through to the ground below. And unlike Melbourne Zoo where there seems to be more walking to enclosures than viewing, the animal segments are spaced within a short stroll of each other, with about 95% of the animals outside their obscured areas soaking up the mountain sunshine. The other notable features were the cleanliness and upkeep of the gardens, the number of animals freely wandering the park grounds and the safari tour of the extended reserve which allows deer, zebra, ostrich and emu to all intermingle like a scene from “Animalia”.
Unfortunately one of the most memorable sights on the safari was a handful of tissues tossed out of the open air bus at the zebra. Mod and I sat in the very last row and were astonished at how human beings can be top of the food ladder and yet still act like they can’t find the first rung. I only wish one of us had seen the lazy, thoughtless neanderthal who tossed his garbage as the animals flocked in around the vehicle. I would’ve been requesting their mailing address for an express package delivery of used toilet paper.
I continue to marvel at how clean the government keeps Mauritius, even the unsightly presence of 40ft, cement, telegraph poles are transformed into enormous palm trees. One morning, during pre-dawn light, like a scene from “The Truman Show” I noticed a team of cleaners raking up washed ashore tree foliage, digging holes and then burying it beneath the sand. This was continuing for as far as the eye could see along our hotel’s foreshore. Getting lost and asking for directions also revealed the local Mauritians penchant for tacking “no problem” on the end of any gratitude received. We were quick to point out while they had “no problem” we had “no worries”.
After uncounted u-turns we stumbled upon the bane of our misguided travels; the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Gardens. It was pleasant enough but not enough to make up for an hour of suburban nightmare. Probably didn’t help having sparrow sized mosquito’s swarm after Moddy for the duration of what was meant to be a leisurely walk in the park either. The disappointment of the park was only matched by Moddy’s determination to finish the day on a good note by visiting the largest Hindu temple in Mauritius. I’m glad to have known better than argue.
This was the first Hindu temple we had both visited and boy ‘o boy what a doozy! It’s name was Tamil Kaylasson Temple and it was a patchwork quilt of colour, figures and shapes pouring out from triangular towers and awnings in the wall. These Hindu’s sure know how to worship their god/s (we were fortunate enough to rock in as service was beginning). Drums bellowed from the temple interior as a friendly Hindu man pointed out the names of their gods and proudly showed us some caged peacocks out “back”. Having watched the last golden rays of light lick the tower tops of the temple entrance we returned to the car feeling richer for the experience.
Our last day of the honeymoon arrived at a good time; Moddy was jack of babysitting me and I couldn’t wait to get back home and work on the business. So we split this final day in two. The Nick and Moddy half.
The Nick half was a drive out to the most southern-most point of the island called Gris Gris. It’s a spectacular, short strip of beach book-ended by two anvil blockades of rock which are constantly bombarded by rolling explosions of seawater. As has happened on occasion my focus for taking a beautiful landscape was hijacked by making portraits instead of other tourists absorbed by getting the perfect photo of themselves. In this instance some Japanese couples hilariously demonstrated how many photo’s need to be taken in a barren, windswept environment before you find one with the perfect hair. I could’ve photographed their blind persistence all day long.
The Moddy half of day was a trip to the surprisingly upmarket and modern shopping mall just north of Le Mourne in Bambous. Here I played the role of clotheshorse and had my first shirt upgrade in 3years. The rest of my time was spent sleeping on a parkbench while Mod simply spent.
In the words of Tex: “I don’t know what to say, the honeymoon is over”. Well that’s not true I do know; it’s been one hell of a good time! Quick fire shootouts in the local restroom and itchy, pussed up eyeballs aside this has been an eyeopening trip with a few friends made along the way who we hope to see in the not too far future.
Stand out moments were surfing the Dubai desert by 4WD, playing with the happiest kids on the planet in Manakara, chasing sun worshiping lehmurs in Anja Park, and generally speaking witnessing some of the goodwill and self sacrifice made to the needy of Madagascar. We have photo’s to send to: Residence Madalief, the Madalief Orphanage, Tiana and Lova, a book for Vonji in Ifaty and a sizable postage bill to contemplate.
Like all journey’s it’s a sombre time knowing it’s come to an end. But as with all journey’s ending it ushers the beginning of another and this next phase of our life dedicated to full-time self-employment will be full of challenge but also celebration (fingers crossed:).