After a short holiday at home I came back to the boat in Mauritius.
As I was carrying various spare parts from Germany, I had been a little anxious that they would make trouble at the airport in Frankfurt. Which I would have understood. I barely had any clothes in my luggage, but three electrical panels (switchboards) that really looked like bombs (because of all the wires connecting them). But no, the airport officials in Frankfurt didn’t seem to care. But when I got to Mauritius, the customs officials pulled me out of the masses of tourists. They didn’t even pretend this was a random sample, but asked immediately, WHAT do you have in this luggage??? Fortunately I was able to satisfy their curiosity and they turned out to be very nice and helpful. They gave me directions how to get to the harbour after they had written down all necessary information for their documentation. One of the things they needed was my permanent address. Unfortunately my passport only says: Keine Hauptwohnung in Deutschland, meaning not resident in Germany. Because i didnt want to make things more difficult than necessary, I just left him believing this was my adress. Lucky he didnt understand German.
Finally I got out of the airport, around 5 am. As i got into a taxi I was very surprised: Everybody is speaking decent English and they are driving on the left side of the road. My taxidriver gives me the first lesson in Mauritian history: The island was first colonized by the French, who brought a lot of African slaves. Before that Mauritius was not populated. In 1810 the British fought the French and won control over the island. They abolished slavery and brought a lot of Indian labour to work on the sugar cane plantations. But the population had gotten used to speaking Creole, a ”pidgin-version” of French. Therefore most people speak better French (which is close to their mothertongue Creole), while the official language used in the parliament and the administration is English.
Nowadays, Africans and Indians each make up about 40% of the population. The rest are Chinese, Arabs, French, British, etc. The cultural mix that comes out of that, is quite intriguing. For example Indian naan-bread with French cheese inside. This became our absolute favorite snack, while we were in Mauritius.
We spend a little more than one week in Mauritius. Andreas and me went to a small coastal town for a few nights, from where we also went onto a beautiful hike in one of the national parks. Mauritius has a very dramatic and distinct mountain range. I have never seen something like this on such a small island.
Seaventure was tied up in a marina in the middle of the capital Port Louis. After a month in the Maldives and 18 days of sailing (for the rest, not for me) it was great to be in the center of all the action. We emptied quite a number of rum bottles and made friends with the German crew on our neighbour boat. They were sailing this 62 foot, Americas cup winner ”Chancegger” from Thailand to South Africa. Inside the boat was just empty. Not even the toilet had walls around… Good they were three boys… But under sails, this boat must be something like a dream come true. They averaged about 200 miles per day, which is double of what we usually do.
But also the big winners from the 6o’s don’t come without problems. A week later in Reunion we got a message from them saying, they were also in Reunion and would have to stop their trip there due to imminent repairs. Unfortunately we got the message one day before we left. So we didnt have time to meet again.
Our stop in La Reunion was a very short one anyway. We only wanted to hike onto the highest mountain of the Indian Ocean: Piton des Neiges at 3090m. We got to Saint Pierre, a port in the South on a Thursday, which was ”Christi Himmelfahrt” and a holiday. Therefore the hut on the mountain was completely booked for the whole weekend and we had to wait until Sunday, before we could attempt the hike. The remaining days we spend in a park close to the beach, drinking French wine and eating baguette with Camembert, Brie and Olives.
The hike was beautiful. We took a bus to Cilaos on 1200m and from there we hiked up to the hut on 2400m. It was a very steep, but otherwise easy hike of 8 km. It only took us about 2,5 to 3 hours to climb up there. From the hut we started the next morning at 4:30am in order to watch the sun rise from the top. We didn’t want to risk having to wait at the top for very long, so we started rather late. As the east was already turning red (and our headlamps went out of battery, one after another), I was afraid i wouldn’t make it to the top in time and decided to watch from a nice spot somewhat lower. It was nice, because Karoline and me were the only ones there and it was a very peaceful atmosphere. But I think I could have made it all the way to the top in time. And I regret a little bit that I didnt do that. Anyway, we went up to the top afterwards to enjoy the view and it was really beautiful. After that we went back down to the hut, had some breakfast and then continued down to Cilaos. The hike up might have been more demanding for stamina, but the hike down really made my legs shiver. I had problems going down stairs for days after that 🙂 Luckily we started sailing the day after, so that we all didnt have to move too much…