After driving down from Trou aux Biches and Grand Baie, we ended up in Flic en Flac, a town off the west coast with tacky beach scene appeal. All the coastal areas had public beaches with dirt roads and parking lots and ubiquitous Italian ice cream trucks playing snippets of familiar tunes over and over again that must have driven the drivers bonkers. My memories of Mauritius are permeated by the jingling tunes from these trucks, plus the sounds of birds sweetly singing. The beaches had sparse lawn patches above the sand and a variety of trees, including baobabs and cedar pines.
We parked at one of the beaches and went on foot in search of accommodation. One hotel apartment complex recommended in LPG was full but the landlady suggested we try in the recently built villas in the grid of streets just back of her hotel. We found plenty of choices there but declined the first ones because there were still clients in some of them or the owners had brought their kids down for the day to let them splash in the pool and the villa was over-run by kids who had to be removed so it could be cleaned. Eventually we got a villa just a block off the beach and liked it so much we stayed three days.
The villa cost 2500 rupees a night, about $75, and had 4 bedrooms on two upstairs floors. It was quiet and spacious, fully equipped kitchen, two baths, and had a nice pool outside. Other guests seemed to spend all of their time eating and drinking at tables on the lanais off their apartments. Where Glenn slept the first night the sun woke him up at 5 a.m. so he simply moved upstairs and had the whole floor to himself, with a big double bed in the bed room facing west over the courtyard. So he had one floor with two bedrooms and Bobbi and I had the other, nice.
We used this abode as a base for hiking one day in the Black River park, and the next day we dived two dives with the nearby Ti-Cabo divers. The instructor there, Fadi, had lived in Oman and took a liking to us, and showed us the best diving possible there. Our morning dive was at Serpent Reef. Unfortunately vis was not great, and the underwater scenery was essentially boulders, but the life in the rocks made for interesting diving. There were leaf fish for example, sea snakes, many kinds of eels, several really large scorpion fish, a small torpedo ray, sea slugs, and other things we would not have spotted had we gone there unguided, but Fadi seemed to know where each animal lived. The second dive at Aquarium was more of the same, and the two dives we did there we simply let our eyes follow where Fadi pointed.
Impressions of Mauritius
We were not so enthused to want to spend a second day diving there, so we moved over to the east coast, Trou d’Eau Douce, and then down to Mahebourg for our flight home. Overall we were quite pleased with our Mauritius holiday. It was easy to go without bookings, except we had arranged for a car and a first night in Mahebourg (to facilitate hook up with Glenn, but we could have done without that and just selected what appealed to us when we arrived in town). Accommodation was plentiful in all price ranges and excellent value, food was delicious with creole accent, beer was cheap, the islanders were relaxed and unhurried, it seemed to be a safe place, small enough to get around the island on a single tank of gas ($40, but we only needed the one fill). The weather was great, mostly sunny, sometimes windy, and the misty rains that came occasionally were short and welcome. The scenery was strikingly reminiscent of Hawaii, we enjoyed all the diving we did, and we’d like to go again to Rodrigues next time, and after that to Reunion.
Like a certain Captain Flinders who sailed his British ship to Mauritius at a time, unbeknownst to him, England and France had gone to war, so he was detained on arrival and spent six years in a French gaol, we were captivated by the charm of the island (though put off where traffic was too much for its narrow roads, which compromised the ambience of many small villages). Driving there was like playing a computer game, anything could be walking, pedaling, stopping, or crossing in the narrow roads, where lanes often dropped without shoulder into the sea, and cars coming at you were swerving into your lane to avoid their own obstacles, plus driving on the left, all combine to keep drivers on their toes there. But I was talking about diving, how did driving come up?