Sunday, March 23, 2014

Report # 84 Port Louis, Mauritius March 23, 2014 Sunday Part One Partly cloudy, 85 degrees

Mountain peaks above the town
Cruise terminal
Our port of call for today was Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. 

The pier in Mauritius
Caudan Waterfront close to us
Boats in harbor
Port Louis buildings
Port Louis harbor
But before we were allowed to go ashore, we had to attend a face-to-face inspection with the local officials. This process did not commence until 8:20am, instead of 8am. Sometimes local officials do not follow the ship's schedule. Some of ship's tours were to begin at 8:15am, so that was not happening on time. Local officials usually follow their own schedule, so they have to go with the flow. We decided to go to the check first, then go to breakfast in the dining room. The line was long, but went fairly quickly. One detail that many folks missed was the fact that we had to carry the passport receipt with us to get off of the ship. Every other time we got these, they went in our safe as proof that we gave back our passports to the front desk girls.

Amsterdam docked

Bridge to the shuttle bus
Only one ship in town today
There was a welcome committee of four dancing ladies with a small group of musicians to greet us on the pier. 

Dance team on the pier

Mauritius dancers
Costumes of the slaves
Having fun
Island maps were being handed out on the pier too, so before they ran out, we decided to leave the ship to get one. That's when we found out how many people did not have those passport receipts with them. An official was checking everyone, and without it, they were sent back to get it. Anyway, we went back, did some emailing, then left the ship around 10am.

Since today was a Sunday, we knew that the local vibrant market would be closing early before noon. So we took advantage of the complimentary shuttle that dropped us off at the Cauden Waterfront. 

The Caudan Waterfront
The ride only took 9 minutes, and the bus would run from 9am to 4pm. We could have walked, but this pier is isolated from the main roads with no sidewalks. And in this heat and humidity, why walk? Better to save our energy for exploring the town.

Mauritius has a history similar to that of the Seychelles. It's a fairly small island with a population of 1.3 million people of French, British, Indian, Chinese, and African descent. Originally settled by the Dutch, the French took over, followed by the Brits, who seized it. The French were the ones responsible for bring the slaves from Africa to man the sugar cane plantations. However, the British freed these slaves, but then imported indentured workers from India and China. Eventually the island got their independence in 1968. Port Louis has retained the feel of the colonial port, but also has a modern flair about it. The languages spoken here are French, English, and Creole. The MUR rupee is their tender, with 30 rupee to the $1.00 US, although US dollars are widely accepted. The climate here is tropical with the low temps in the 60's and the highs in the 90's. Humidity is a constant 80%, making it sticky. But it is the perfect conditions to grow sugar cane, their main export to Europe.

OK, on with our walk. The marketplace was first, so we headed across the length of the waterfront to the underground passageway to the old section of the city. It was like a beehive of activity as the locals were busy food shopping for the day. 

Central marketplace
The first building we entered was the veggie, fruit, and spice market. The produce was fresh and clean as a whistle, despite the crowded conditions of the market.  
Fresh veggies

Nice tomatoes



We were elbow to elbow with mostly sari-clad Indian ladies and Muslim men. Many of the vendors were Creole, except for those in the meat, fish, and poultry markets across the street. Once again, as old as these buildings were (1800's), they were clean and fly-free. 

Building dates back to the 1800's
Meat market

Very neat and clean despite the age
Looks like pork



Many kinds of fish

Very fresh also


Tuna steaks

Most of the meat products were already sold for the day, and what fish that were left, was still very fresh.
Most all of the meat was sold for the day
We were told that among the favorite fish dishes, those containing oysters, shrimp, crayfish, and crabs are the first pick of the locals.

Souvenirs being hawked in these markets were t-shirts, shells, coral jewelry, model ships, and the notorious dodo bird wood carvings. 

The extinct dodo bird

The dodo bird, once a resident of this island, has long been extinct, but has remained a symbol anyway. Many dodo-decorated handbags, and clothing items were being sold. 

The dodo-decorated handbags
Another popular thing to buy here is rum...the best one had a dodo bird on the label, of course. 

Dodo rum
We did find one neat t-shirt for each of us, and one funny-looking wood carved dodo bird. Shortly after leaving the food markets, all the vendors were picking up their wares, and leaving for home. Good thing we came here early.



Cabbage, eggplant, and lettuce

Good colors

Carrots, peppers, and squashes

Thai peppers

Cut squash or pumpkin

Tropical flowers

Their day is almost done



Crowded market

Closed by noontime

He was selling pastries

A tower of BBQ chicken breasts

Colorful saris

Typical colonial building
Back at the waterfront, we walked through every store in the complex, checking every menu at each restaurant for pizza and beer. 

Modern buildings of Port Louis

Waterfront cafes
Waterfront was very close to the pier

Ship also in port

Commercial port

Locals out and about

Main part of town

Many Indian sari-clad ladies

Very modern
All museums were closed's Sunday
Locals shopping early in the day
The crowd would thin later on

Motorbikes cut right down the middle of the walking streets

Flip-flops and clothing

Earrings for kids

Cool colors for a hot day

Street vendors

Piles of t-shirts for

Local shopper

Waterfront building

Shopping mall

Well laid out waterfront

Old cannons

Nice palms

Palms in front of the mall

Looking for birds

Here's one
One small shop caught our eye along the way...the Baobab T-Shirt Store. We have bought some of their t-shirts in other parts of the world, and they held up well. So another one found a home with us. 

A good place for lunch
Pizza Hut
Lunch was next, so we decided on a sure thing by going to Pizza Hut. We were sold on it when we asked if they had beer. Yes, they did serve it, so we had two Phoenix beers with a large margherita pizza.

Local beer....Phoenix

One of the best margherita pizzas so far

The bill in rupees  -  775 rupee

Relaxing at a table on their shady patio, it was great watching the harbor activity and the many cruisers passing by us. 

Patio seating
There is a nice two story mall attached to this waterfront, and it is air-conditioned as well. This is the modern part of the city, with the highend stores you find in all big cities.

A monument

Young Indian girls

Coast Guard ship

A tourist posing

Those are umbrellas used as decorations

Crocheted handicrafts

Old fort buildings

OK, where are we?
Fellows waiting for the bus

Here come the buses
A fish in a fountain

Fruit vendor

The Casino

Palm lined the way

Boat harbor

Out for a Sunday afternoon

Back home

Wandering dog
The ride back to the ship was quick, and we were ready for the sailaway party on the aft deck by 4:30pm. The Captain said we had to wait for a late bus, which had to be an HAL shore excursion. They guarantee that the ship will never leave without them. Guess that's right. 

Bridge to ship

Fish around the pier

Tropical fish

Green and blue

Long nose fish
We watched the slow sail out of the harbor and stayed, despite the stiff winds and rough waters , until the sun set at 6:18pm. 

Enjoying the sailaway
Notice how rough the pool got
It was not a great one, since the sun dipped behind thick clouds on the horizon before setting.

Sun was going down
Last of the sun
There goes the sun
Interesting skies
Last of the swimmers
Hundreds of birds in the water

We noticed that by the time we got back, all of the razor wire was gone off of the lower promenade deck.  
Here is the used razor wire
The contraptions that held the firehoses had been dismantled yesterday. No more 24 hour watch for pirates, which we are certain the security team are grateful.

Nine fishing boats tethered together
Nine boats in a row
Curious arrangement
These boats together may have created a city on the water
Obviously fishing boats

Living quarters
More boat people

Notice the laundry

City of boats
Leaving Caudan Waterfront

Steep mountains

Could be a church

Small boat harbor

Pier tents

Well-wishers to see us off

The pilot boat

Leaving downtown

Tugs are done

Harbor ship

Small boats

Nicer ship

Out on a spit of sand

Volcanic peaks

Communcation towers

A loaded container ship

Clouds getting darker

Leaving the island

Just in time to miss the rain


More mountains

Local boat
All of us were back to dinner tonight. Our buddy, Bill, did not get released from "room quarantine" until 5pm. So they had to forgo their tour, for which they did get a full refund. Although not 100% better, he admitted that he would not wish to have that experience ever again in his lifetime. Everyone teased him mercilessly, even though all of us have had these symptoms at one time or another. And you do not have to leave home to pick up these maladies either.

For dinner, we ordered the turkey entree, and it was like having Thanksgiving in March. Comfort food for sure.

Tomorrow, we will be in Reunion, but it appears that the ride will be rough tonight. At least we had no rain in the pier area today. The folks that took tours to the higher altitudes did get some rain. Hope the weather is rain-free in Reunion.

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