Monday, July 6, 2015

Fun in Port Mathurin, Rodrigues June 2015

This is a typical scene in the market in Port Mathurin, Rodrigues.  Each vegetable seller gets a numbered space in the covered building and there are four aisles of the spaces.  Huge squash are so big that they all cut it into slices to sell.  Trying to find a small one that I could take to the boat whole was nearly impossible.  Onions, carrots, bok choy, potatoes, chokos, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, etc. are all part of the colorful canvas available here every day.  On Saturdays the place is packed with sellers and buyers, but most days it is just a few of each.
The fruit is sold on the outside of the vege market.  This is one entrance to the market.  The guy on the far left sells homemade rotis (flatbread sort of like tortillas)

At a back corner, this stall specializes in coconuts and coconut water.  They hack and slice and pour all day long.
A quiet view of a street in Port Mathurin.  The dock is just the other side of this building on the right.
Ladies make these condiments and sell them in little glass jars all around the marketplace.  Spicy hot lemon spread is a local speciality, as is the hot, spicy octopus.  You can get spicy mango, eggplant, and mixed fruit, too.  Or you can just buy the peppers in a jar, whole or pureed.  These peppers are hot!  Lots of interesting mixtures, though.  Since they outlawed plastic bags on this island, the sellers wrap the jars in paper and tape them into groups of two or three to make them easier to carry.
These sellers set up their booths/umbrellas each market day and take them down at night.  The woven baskets and hats are another specialty item made here.    If only I had the room to hold all the interesting things on the boat.....

Hats are a big seller here and ladies still wear fancy straw/woven hats to keep the sun off.
Some folks make woven items specifically for tourists as souvenirs.
A fruit seller outside the vege market.  Pineapples are out of season here and lots of the fruit sold here is imported, like apples and oranges and grapes.
Veges are sold inside at numbered stalls like this one.  So colorful and fresh.  People come from Mauritius to get the produce here.
The stalls line all the walls and fill the center with aisles.  Everyone gets a numbered space.
The Solitaire, a big tugboat used to manouver the supply ship when it comes and goes.
Here come the Anna, the cargo supply ship into the port.
Anna as it passes the yachts and begins the turn in the turning basin the yachts use as an anchorage.  Boats have to move out of the way when the ship comes in, but it needs less room to leave as it will already be facing in the right direction when it leave the wharf.
The wharf at Port Mathurin just before the supply ship comes in.  We are the last off the dock.
Across the street from the market is this Chinese store.  On street level, the store claims to be Ah-Poh, a tobacconist.  The upper level has strings of Chinese sausages drying.  Locals claim these are the best ones and you just have to ask in the tobacco shop to have them let you go up to buy sausage.
Neil and Ley on Crystal Blues share a birthday and we all gathered on their boat for drinks before heading off to a local restaurant to help them celebrate their special day.  We set a new record for having 18 people in their cockpit this night.
Neil with a foil-wrapped present of Happy Cow cheese.  That's Jason munching some goodies in the background.
Some of our motley crew of yachting friends aboard Crystal Blues.
More of the group.
Karen on the far left.  Our numbers were too big to fit us all in the picture.

Anne Marie and Ernst from Galatea chatting with Neil at the restaurant Aux Deux Freres (Two Brothers).
Kerstin, Chris, Ann and Helmut had a few cold beers waiting for the food.
Ann and Helmut from Silver Girl and Lop To, respectively.
Kerstin and Chris from Lop To and Silver Girl, respectively.
The port captain, Yvan arriving to join us for the birthday dinner.
Jason with Ley in the background at the restaurant.  There were 20 people and we all liked our food.
Jason and I shared a pizza.  I'm not usually a big fan of thin crust pizza, but this was excellent!
Neil making a toast.  We had the entire room upstairs in this restaurant.
The tugboat, Solitaire, pushing the stern of the supply ship around to berth at the wharf.  The guys in the black RIB in foreground are the Coast Guard.
A new bus being lifted off the cargo ship.  A lot of stuff goes back and forth from here to Mauritius on this ship. This is just a rented/chartered supply ship until the regular one gets back from repairs in Malaysia.  The regular ship also carries passengers, but this one does not.  The locals will be happy to get their passenger cargo ship back in service, hopefully next month.
Sean's boat, Alexandra.  When we had to move off the wharf for the ship to come in, we anchored just in front of him and sat in the turning basin for the 2-3 days it took for them to offload the cargo and reload the stuff for the trip back to Mauritius.
Foreground is Sean's kayak.  He doesn't have a dinghy, so he uses this to get to shore and back.  In the background you can see four local boats in the shallow waters on the reef.  When the tide goes out, these boats are on the reef.  Their owners park them out here in the wee hours of the morning and go walking the reef with sticks to catch octopus.  They walk for miles out on the reef and come back when the tide comes in and paddle or pole their way back in.  Every day, these same boats are here.
YOLO would have been about where the big bulb on the front of this ship is.  The local sport fisher power boats get to tuck back in under the bow while it's here, but there is no room for any yachts until the ship leaves again.
Our group of yachties just off the bus, getting ready to start a walk.  Someone bought a map of walks on the island, but we kept getting lost, missing the spots of paint that mark the trails.  Someone finally read the small print and realized the map sellers want you to hire their guides to take you on these walks.  
A painted goat skull at the start of a trail.  It looked like a menacing warning to us.  Pretty weird.
That's Tim, a local here who joined us for a walk. We're traipsing along someone's garden of thyme, onions, pumpkin and other veges.  But we're still on the correct trail!
A small burbling stream.  There isn't much water on Rodrigues, so this was a nice sight.
Another view of the stream bed with a trickle of water moving along it.
A large mushroom growing on a log in a shady spot along the trail.  We weren't sure if this was an edible variety, but we left it alone.
A stand of bamboo along the trail.
We stopped in a riverbed and ate our lunch on the rocks here.  You can see a large black water hose that carries water across the island to homes.  We see these hoses all over, just lying on the ground, seldom buried.  The government has been trying to get desalinated water to the homes all over the island.  They build concrete holding tanks for the homes and pump the water to them periodically.  People used to only have rainwater for drinking, and would tap into these hoses to get water when their supply ran low or they needed to water their gardens.  That meant leaking water hoses everywhere.  It's getting better these days, but there are still some homes that rely on rain.
Sean is whacking new sticks for poles for his umbrella with his machete.  Still barefoot but he keeps up.
A nice cool looking pool below the stream bed where we stopped for lunch.  Nobody wanted to get wet before continuing the walk.
A lovely view of the valley and the ocean beyond.  The map showed the trail leading down the other side of the valley to the water.  Somewhere we took a wrong turn and missed the next yellow mark on a rock or tree or post and ended up here.  We were supposed to be on the other side of the valley and down in it.  Oops.
We're off the trail map now and searching for any sign of a trail.  That's Chris and Jason, waiting for the rest of the group to catch up with us.  I spotted a splotch of yellow on a rock face, but we later realized it was a patch of lichen the same road paint yellow as the trail markers.  We were now waaaayyyy off the trail.
Jason looking across the valley to where we were supposed to be.  We'd come all the way from the far end of the valley in the background and we'd crossed some pretty hairy terrain so far, following a tiny goat track, so we didn't really want to backtrack all the way from here.  One person had gone back to our last known yellow marker and couldn't find another one, so we'd kept going.
Even the goats along the way wondered what the hell we were doing clear up here on their mountain.
The way down was too slippery and without any trail to follow.  We were afraid we'd end up at a cliff's edge and not be able to get back up.  So we decided to climb up and over this mountain.  At least we were away from the precipice that we'd traversed earlier.  Nobody wanted to go back across the way we'd come.  Up we go.
I couldn't see beyond my next handful of dried grass to cling to.  It was pretty steep and the dry grass was slippery.  The only branches to grab for balance or to pull up on were the thorny acacia, so we had to avoid them.  Some folks just tried to 'swim' up the hill.  Thankfully, if you grabbed a big enough handful of grass, the roots held.  The bill of my had was impeding my view, but I didn't dare try to get to my bandana in my backpack on this steep slope, so I just had to keep going.  hearts were pounding and the adrenaline was pumping in us all.  A couple of folks shredded their pants and shirts scrambling up the rough slope.  A little blood flowed, but nothing serious.  One set of shoes bit the dust, but luckily someone had packed a spare set of shoes--how lucky is that!  We were all properly chagrined at our decisions and so very thankful that nobody got seriously hurt or killed.  It could so easily have happened..... and rescue would have been very difficult to enact.
Once over the top, it was a nice walk across the plateau.  Windy but fairly flat and easier to manage.
Barbara off of Gosi in the tall grass and wind at the top of the climb.  What a difference in the terrain.
Someone wanted a photo of the flies on the cows.  They would drive me crazy.
The plateau at the top of our climb.  I hear "The Sound of Music" humming in my ears.
A typical Rodrigues home.  The government gave locals a home like this.  Only two rooms.  The water tank behind the house is the government water and you can see a gutter and pipe also leading to a rain water tank
Once back down to the shore, we walked along the road back to the yachts, several bays away.  Sheep wandered along the road here.
We spotted a group of children along the beach.  It was a big family outing and they were headed to a park for a barbecue.
We got as far as Baie Aux Anglaise (English Bay), one bay along from the port and our original destination for lunch.  Fried fish and chips and salad for 130 Rupees (about $3.70).  The local fish favorite, its name translates to the shoemaker fish.  It has no scales and very few internal bones, so it's easy to fix and eat.  This was our reward for finishing the walk alive!

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