Friday, August 7, 2015

more YOLO In Mauritius July 2015

Karen on the passage from Rodrigues to Mauritius.  It was cool and drizzly at times, so I was in my Under Armor coat (thanks, bro) 
and had the bandana to control the fly-away hairs.

Don't I look bad here?
On a tour, we stopped at a big bay where we saw lots of boats anchored.  It was really shallow,though, and we wouldn't take our yachts in there.  But it was a nice view of Gunner's Quoin in the distance and the red earth on shore was quite bright.
The gov't must be building this seawall along the shore to prevent erosion.  It is a huge undertaking here as the beach covers a lot of area.  Rich red volcanic soil here makes the sugar cane grow.
The red-roofed church at the top end of Mauritius is a favorite tourist photo stop.  It sits right on a tiny picturesque bay.
The inside of the church.  Very plain, but note the clam shell for the holy water receptacle.
The edge of the church property where you can launch a boat into the bay.  The sign looks normal enough, but see the next shot for the wording....

One of the things not authorized is religious ceremonies????  On church property?
The church from the shore.  It is not allowed to take photos here to 'pretend' you had a wedding here.
The little bay next to the church.  It really is a quaint location.
The giant clam shell for holy water inside.
 A pair of muddy boots just left by the fence along the parking lot of the church.
The giant mud puddle that was the parking lot, after a rain.  The water doesn't seem to soak in very quickly here.  Guess the owner of those boots just didn't want to deal with it.
We stopped at a model boat building factory along the way.  Workers hand sand and paint and decorate small models of big ships and boats.  Very intricate work and they seemed to have lots to do.  We couldn't figure out who orders such things these days, but they are keeping these folks busy.
Putting the tiny lines on the masts requires a steady hand.  This Indian woman never flinched.
Some of the models are quite big.  They make all these parts here and assemble them all by hand.
In the foreground are detailed plans, like a blueprint for a boat.  The lady is using a Dremel tool to sand and finish small parts for the big model in front of her.
They make model cars too.  Loved the old VW.
The big sailing ship in this glass display case had very intricate blue and gold painting.  Too bad the flash reflected in the background.  We were amazed at how clean the glass and displays were in this shop.  Not like much of the rest of the town.
Hindu deities wrapped in tiny cloths outside a temple.  The different figures all faced outward and were carved from the local volcanic stone.  They were doll-sized and just sitting in a little shrine outside the temple.
The entry arch into the temple grounds.  The bright pink, blue, turquoise, red and greens show up much better in person.
Some of the painting on the inside of the roof of the entry arch.
The 3-D depictions of the deities is quite detailed.  Ganesh is the elephant-headed one in this shot.
The "Chest Hospital" down a tiny back road along the beach near another tiny temple.  This old, grey hospital was the tuberculosis hospital.  Today, it still focuses on chest ailments and sits right on a big bay.
Hanuman, the Monkey God had a big statue in the temple here.
A stone wall or entry along the road.  No other structures were near it so I don't know what its purpose really was?
We stopped in Belle Mare to wait for Tim and Liz to meet us for lunch.  We grabbed fried snacks at htis little shack along a side street.  We had a hard time finding a restaurant that was open here.  Shopkeepers who saw us beckoned us in to look at their stuff.  They seemed to be hurting for tourists and many shops and stores were closed.  It is the off season here.
A beachside park where we had lunch at a cafe.
A nice little bay and beach along the roadside.  We stopped to view the place and ran into a fisherman who was going out to fish.  He was picking up bits of coral from the beach.  We asked him what for?  He said he makes a bait of octopus liver, flour, and oil and coated the bits of coral as bait.  The coral gives the line weight and the fish eat the bait and he catches them.  Sounded disgusting to make and it was a jar of black globs that he showed us, but hey, whoever said fish had taste?
 The fisherman's jar of bait.

A church with a stone facade.  All the stained glass windows in this church were blue.
The eerie glow of the blue glass on the inside of the church.  Very different.
A shot out of the moving car as we approached a large banyan tree whose roots covered the road and took root on the other side, leaving a cool arch for us to drive through.
This Hindu temple as out in the middle of a sugar cane field.  It was closed, but we walked around it and admired the artwork.
Love these three dimensional pictures.  Even the drainpipes were ornate.
It would take me at least four hands to play this musical instrument like this deity.
Our rental car parked along the side of the one-lane road out next to the temple in the sugar cane field.
The sugar cane for those who don't know what it looks like.
An interesting purple and white flower growing along the edge of the temple.
The temple caretaker rode up on his bicycle just as we were leaving.
There were once several dozen of these sugar factory chimneys across Mauritius.  Now there are only a few of them still in operation.  Once abandoned, they begin to crumble and/or grow things on the top.  This one is in a park and the local teens were playing in the grass that surrounds it.  Most of them are just sitting in the middle of a sugar cane field out in the open, but it was nice to see some landscaping around this one.
A nice view of some of the mountains in the interior of Mauritius, viewed over the waving green of the sugar cane fields.
Another view of the green slopes of Mauritius.
A close up of the mountain peak with my camera's zoom.
Sugar cane gives so much of this island its shades of green.
Another old sugar chimney.  They are either round or square, and made of the stone blocks that so many of the buildings of that era were.

A round sugar chimney.  I think they're amazing and would love to have one sitting on my land if I lived here. A relic from the historic past of Mauritius.
Yet another one as we drove by.  You can see the cane in front here has already been harvested.  They can get three crops a year from a field here, and they reuse the same root stock to regrow the cane for about seven years.  Then they have to plow it all under or tear it out and start with new roots.
A worker's complex for the Chinese workers for some factory.  Their clothes hang on every balcony here in this bright orange building.  There were several buildings in this apartment complex, and every balcony of every unit had clothes hanging from it.
At the National History Museum we were the only visitors at the start of the day.  We parked next to this squatty cannon in the rain and scurried inside.
The old colonial building that houses the museum looks nice from afar, and it had been completely rennovated in 2010, but up close, you could tell its age was wearing on it.
A set of tiny cottages next to the museum housed the souvenir shop and such.
An old cannon that broke, on display on the porch of the museum. Many of the artifacts in the museum were recovered from shipwrecks near here.  Photographs weren't allowed inside the museum.
 An old railway car tucked under an awning off the back of the building.  I never would've seen it if I hadn't needed to use the toilet out back.
At the beachside at Mahebourg was this big Buddha statue made from small rounded stones.
Shrines are everywhere in this country and even in the shallow water near a big shrine on the shore, someone has placed little statues in the water.  Hard to discern the statues from the trash here.
Piles of chiles in the market at Mahebourg.  A red tarp over this vendor gives everything a pink tinge.
Yellow fruits and veges here:  pineapple, yellow squash and bananas.
Red is for the tomatoes.  They do grow nice tomatoes here.  Most of the tomatoes are the Roma variety, not the big beefsteak ones that grow large.
Eggplant, zucchini, chiles and squash.  Each vendor has their own scale and weighs your selection for pricing.
Green here:  Bundles of cilantro/coriander as well as watercress, mint, bok choy and other local greens.
This woman was pulling out handfulls of the dried fish fromthe boxes.  The big platter is full of fresh ginger.
Spring onions in small bundles for sale.  The giant bunches below the table are how they are brought in to the market.  We've seen people on motorcycles with multiple bundles strapped across them in front and behind them.
The squash or pumpkins here are all huge and they rarely sell a whole on.  The vendors hack off large slices and then folks can buy a slice or even just a piece of the slice, depending on their needs.  It looks great, but if I buy a slice, I have to use it right away as they won't keep for long on a boat.  Too bad they are all so big as they'd last forever before being cut.
A pile of freshly dug up peanuts, aka groundnuts.
This is the nicest looking cauliflower and broccoli I've ever seen.  Huge heads and very fresh and defect-free.
Fresh beets/beetroot makes a colorful splash on the tables, too.
A large head of cauliflower dwarfed by its surrounding leaves.
The sign near the Rault Biscuit Factory in front of a nice stand of bamboo.  The tiny trail of a road had us wondering if we'd really taken the correct turn but the sign reassured us we were on the right trail.
The Rault Biscuit (cookie) Factory
A pile of dried leaves and stalks from sugar cane and cassava, the main ingredient in the cookies.
The brick oven where the dried leaves and stalks are used to create the heat for baking the cookies on top.  The whiskbroom in the worker's hand is used to sweep crumbs off the top of the cookie molds once the cookie 'dough' is spread over them.
A gnarly 100-year-old almond tree just outside the entrance to the factory.
The top of an old sugar factory chimney has been converted to a well here.  Water still runs just over the edge and the people here prefer the well water to the tap water.
If we looked over the edge by the well, we could look down and see the water still burbling up below.
Just inside the factory door is this old fashioned scale, still used today to measure the cassava coming in for processing into cookies.  That is a cassava root laying on the big bag.
The cookies here are made from cassava flour, sugar and flavoring--that's it!  Here the workers crumble the cassava that has been partially processed and had most of the moisture squeezed out of it.  They break up the big chunks before it is further processed by another machine.  No gloves.....
The cassava is chopped and put into old flour bags and put into these tubs with holes in the sides.  The press is then turned to press out the moisture, leaving a round of cassava flour.
After further chopping and blowing into a fan, the flavor is added and then the flour is sieved again to remove even more of the fibers from the root.  That is what is on the turquoise plate.Nobody knew why they didn't re-sieve the flour before adding the flavor and sugar.  The tubs of the flavored flour and sugar mixture are marked with a colored domino to indicate which flavor it is.
The biscuits are moved by hand along the hot top of the brick oven to cook them as they move.  Along the way, the ladies flip them to get both sides cooked.  The final cookies are quite dry little squares.
These are the cookie molds used to make the cassava biscuits/cookies.  They line them up and spread the flour mixture over them  The mixture is dry and crumbly but holds together with just the moisture that remains in the cassava flour after it has been pressed.
A worker spreading the biscuit mix over the molds to fill them.
Adding more stalks and leaves to stoke the fire under the cookies.  They are cooked over high heat to begin and lower temps as they move along and are flipped over.
Hands and whisk brooms are used to remove the loose crumbs after the mixture has been spread to fill the molds.
The ladies use squeegie-like blades to flip several rows of the molds at a time.
This lady takes the finished cookies from a tub and puts them into packages of greaseproof paper, turning them to make sure they aren't broken.  She then seals the package with a dab of glue from the bowl in front of her, smearing it with her fingers to get a seal.  Fold and pass to her neighbor to wrap in the package for sale.
Her neighbor hand stamps each label with the date of production and folds the wrapper over the packaged cookies and seals the package with another smear of glue.  Into a cardboard box for deliver to the final sales destination.
The grey-haired lady is the current family member who owns the factory.  She sits and knits by the corner of the oven and makes sure the workers are doing their job.  The old guy came and plopped down next to her, but we don't know who he is.
Our tour included tasting of the varieties of their biscuits and a hot drink.  The cookies are so dry that it is recommended having them with a hot drink.  So we had our choice of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and were told to help ourselves to the cookies and ask if we needed refills of them or drinks.  These little tins identified the type of biscuit inside.
Each tin had a bag of biscuits and we all tried them.  I tried every kind, some more than once or twice.  Very delicate flavor, but cinnamon, anise and sesame were my favorites.
Kerstin and Karen enjoying the biscuits at Rault Biscuterie.
While we were eating, we heard a big machine start up inside.  I wandered back into the factory and saw this guy processing the flour through the refined sifting stage.  Again, using the hands to push the material through.  Think the FDA would let his baseball cap serve for hair restraint?
When you just gotta have a fence, any old rusty corregated metal will do.  Just piece it together to keep out the riff raff.
Another colorful Hindu temple we passed in the car.  This one had a different top to the temple that caught my eye.  We didn't even stop, though.  So many temples.....
The sign at the cliffside park where we stopped for a view.  The restaurant/cafe nearby looked too expensive, so we carried on.  Gris gris is also a term for the bag of magic bits and pieces worn around the neck by some Cajuns, at least according to the Jimmy Buffett song.
The cliff at Gris Gris.  Those are big rollers crashing onto the rocky shore below.
The shelf reef below the cliff where the waves rolled ashore.  The water looks so clear.

The public beach below the cliff at Gris Gris.
The little cafe shop where we had lunch.  Forty rupees bought me a chicken shwarma/kebab sandwich, which was cold.  This proprietor didn't like paying for electricity and left his Pepsi cooler turned off so we didn't get cold drinks either.  The folks from Lop To and Gosi are getting their orders and I'm upstairs looking over the balcony in this tiny shop.
Le Morne, the big headland that is a landmark at the SW corner of this island nation.
Baskets of sea salt harvested at the salt museum/factory.  We just couldn't see paying money to hear how they evaporate the water to get salt, so we just wandered along the periphery of the place.
The salt pans were the stone blocks with shallow water over them.  I think the workers brush the salt to the sides and collect it in baskets.
The piles of baskets next to a storeroom.  The slightly terraced block enclosures went on for acres and acres.
Looking back from the baskets, the salt pans covered a large area in both directions.  They don't use this slow evaporation method commercially much anymore.  I grabbed a handfull from the baskets at the front entry and that was the end of the day's touring.

2 comments:

SV Jackster said...

Hi, delighted to read you are having such a great time. BTW thank you for your no nonense cruising guides for an IO crossing. I download all of them for when we eventually go - currently planning for 2017. Jacqui

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