After spending an eventful but rather rough two and a half weeks in Africa, we breathed a sigh of relief as the plane lifted off taking us to our holiday away from our holiday in Mauritius and then Seychelles. There are no direct flights from Antananarivo in Madagascar to Seychelles, hence the stopover in Mauritius. Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa. Mauritius saw Dutch and French colonial rule before becoming a British colony until 1968 when it gained its independence. Finally in 1992, Mauritius was proclaimed a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. Mauritius is an island paradise described by Mark Twain as heaven. He wrote that “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius.” We arrived a bit disheveled and worn out and we gladly welcomed the beautiful turquoise waters and nice long beaches and of course the creature comforts of a modern luxury resort. We were finally able to let our guard down and relax. Mauritius is a large island and we mainly stayed in the Le Morne area on the southwestern coast for our short visit. We chose the St Regis sitting on Le Morne beach at the foot of the majestic Le Morne Brabant mountain.
Le Morne Brabant mountain is a symbol for freedom from slavery and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here in the mountain’s wooded cliffs, escaped slaves from Africa, Madagascar, India, and Southeast Asia used to form small settlements. There are many caves and overhangs on the summit of Le Morne where slaves hid in fear without much food or shelter. If found, the punishment included whipping and sometimes even death. After the abolition of slavery in 1835, the police went to Le Morne to notify slaves that they were now free. However, many slaves misinterpreted the arrival of the police thinking that they were there to capture them and decided to jump to their deaths from the top of Le Morne Brabant instead of being brought back to slavery. Nowadays, there are companies organizing hiking tours up to the summit, but I opted for lazying on the beach instead. 😆
About half an hour’s drive from Le Morne is Chamarel. Here you can visit the Seven Coloured Earths at Chamarel which is a natural phenomenon where basaltic lava was slowly converted to clay minerals. Mauritius emerged as a result of underwater volcanic activity some 8 million years ago. In terms of age, the island is actually considered young. The different colors were formed during the cooling of the molten rock. You are no longer allowed to walk on these dunes. Instead there are viewing platforms and walkways built around the dunes. There is a place downstream of the waterfall on the Black River valley where there are furrows with gradations of color forming about 40 different hues. The colors are more visible when it is sunny and dry, especially in the morning.
Another popular activity in Mauritius is to take a speedboat out to swim with wild dolphins. But after my trip to Africa, I am happy just to laze around and read my book on the beach.
From Mauritius, my holiday away from the holiday continues to Seychelles. Stay tuned!
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