March 08, 2013

Mauritius! I went there!

I've been to some warm places before.  Hot places, even.  But Mauritius may win the prize for absolute hottest-with-highest-humidity place thus far.  

I mean, I would need to take a shower each day after eating lunch. Because my clothes were soaked through from the act of sitting quietly and eating.  I am not joking.

HOWEVER, if there's a place that warrants pushing through the heat exhaustion? Holy cow, it's Mauritius.

This is a public beach, by the way. Aka not one of the "nice" ones.

This is a public beach - as in, not a a resort - near Chris's aunt & uncle's house.  Like... anyone could just drive up to this beach at any time and go there.  

Yup. This beach is pretty lame all right.

Seriously.  This is just, like, along the side of a public road.

Oh come on.

We had just landed about 3 hours before this picture and hadn't slept in probably 40 hours leading up to this.  As you can see, we don't mind terribly.



We're lucky we headed straight to the beach upon arrival, though, since the next morning dawned overcast and rainy: we had a cyclone a-comin'.

View of (a stormy) Port Louis from the hill
Looking out over the capital city of Port Louis, about to be stormed on.

An imminent tropical cyclone wasn't enough to prevent us from some sight-seeing, though!  Chris's fabulous aunt & uncle drove us down to the south despite the rain.  

(Incidentally, it's kind of hilarious when the entire country is contained on a small island, because road signs will say things like "Port Louis, 12 km" or just "The South [arrow]") 

(Speaking of Chris's aunt & uncle, they are the best. They generously housed us for DAYS, drove us all around the island, made us unreal amounts of delicious food, and in general made sure our trip was outstanding.  Also they are adorable:

Uncle Gervais & Aunt Lina

So lovely. We owe them big time.)

Anyway!  Back to touring!  We first went to Grand Bassin. Legend has it that the god Shiva was roaming the earth with his wife, Parvati, with the Ganges river balanced on his head.  They came across the uninhabited island of Mauritius, which was so beautiful that they paused to look closer - and while doing so, some drops of the Ganges spilled and formed the crater lake there today.  Parvati was upset that some of the holy river was being left behind, but Shiva assured her that it would become a great Hindu pilgrimage site one day. It's considered the most sacred Hindu location in Mauritius today, home to a major annual pilgrimage, as prophesied by Shiva :)

The lake was supposedly formed when Shiva, who was carrying the Ganges River on his head to protect the world from floods, got distracted by the "beautiful jewel" of Mauritius and spilled a drop of the Ganges on the island.
Incense, fruits, and flowers left as offerings to Shiva

Apparently there are also usually a lot of monkeys around, but the rain kept them in the trees, I guess.

A quick stop along a beach on the southern coast, with a storm brewing over the Indian Ocean:

The beach before a cyclone..

And then!  All the way at the very tip of Mauritius is a bluff called La Roche Qui Pleure (the Crying Rock). My guidebook claimed this was because if you stood in a specific spot (which we never found) the receding waves made it look like the rock was actually crying; Chris's aunt said it's because with the wind it sometimes SOUNDS like someone crying.

One of the few coastal areas of Mauritius where it is NOT good to swim.

And holy hell, was it windy.

It was REALLY REALLY windy on the bluff

With the highly effective wind sail of a maxi dress I was wearing, being swept off the cliff by a particularly strong gust was a legitimate concern.

Like, "I hope I don't get blown off the cliff" windy

(Chris, of course, handled it far more stoically than I.) 

Chris handled it much more stoicly.

Can you imagine if it were actually sunny as well?? This place was unbelievable.

It looked like this while a cyclone approached. Can you imagine how intense it would have been with blue skies?

(This is mainly a photo of the hairs I would never be able to untangle again, may they rest in peace.)

Trying not to blow away

My poor camera lens was covered in saltwater windspray at this point (which is why all the pictures from here look like i smeared vaseline on the lens first). 

The next day, back in Port Louis, we went to the famed Central Market, where I promptly fell in love and decided to live there forever and ever, the end.


As awesome as the produce market was (which hello, AWESOME) even more, um.. vibrant, let's say? ..was the meat market, right next door.  

Each animal/meat type had its own entrance:

Each meat type has its own entrance

And then you walk in and OH HELLO ANIMAL PIECES.

Holy cow, the meat market

That is an entire side of a cow hanging there.  Plus, you know, all of the inside pieces laid out on the counter.

Did you need some ribs?

The counter, mind you, is just a plain old countertop.  That hand on it in the picture above is a patron. In other words, anyone can go touch some giant cow ribs or sheep livers or whatever, or get too close to the counter and have blood smear your shirt, you know. 

Or maybe some feet? Or tripe? Please bear in mind that it's like 90 degrees and there is no A/C in this building.

May I remind you that it is SWELTERINGLY AND OPPRESSIVELY HOT there, and that these buildings have no form of air conditioning? 

Poultry section! Note the tree trunk cross-sections as chopping blocks.

The smell was.. palpable.

Um. I was going to end the post here but it seems sort of weird to leave off with several closeup photos of dead animals.  

So instead!  What do you do when a cyclone is finally imminent and bearing down directly toward your little island?

You invite some relatives over so Chris can give everyone ballroom dance lessons, naturally!

What do you do during a cyclone? Ballroom dance lessons, naturally!

(That is really what happened, by the way. Some of the other relatives got stir-crazy while waiting to see if the cyclone would hit or go around the island.  They're very into ballroom dancing, and Chris is a really TALENTED ballroom dancer... so we had an afternoon of salsa classes in the living room.)

(And then the cyclone went around the island, sparing us! Huzzah!) 

(Part 2 to come.  One day.  Maybe.) 


  1. That island is freaking GORGEOUS!!! I don't care if it is cloudy or sunny, it is absolutely incredibly beautiful. Hearing about the heat and humidity from someone who lives with the DC summers is kind of frightening, though. I guess I will just be satisfied by living vicariously through your photographs.

  2. Dang girl. That trip was awesome. It had everything: beaches, raw animal pieces, dangerous wind, an amazing market, dancing lessons, an impending cyclone. That is quite an eventful trip! And Mauritius looks amazing. So beautiful. I wouldn't be me if I didn't let you know how insanely jealous I am of your trip.

  3. This is amazing! Such gorgeous photos! If I hadn't read the text I would totally want to go there. But ugh, hot and humid, no thank you. Stupid tropical islands with their humidity. Hmph.

  4. How amazing! Wow. Just wow. I would never want to leave there either!!!

  5. What an incredible opportunity to go there. And SO BEAUTIFUL! Wow. Really cool, Alice!

  6. AWESOME! Those pictures!! LOVE!

  7. You know how long it's been since I've had meat, and those pictures? MADE ME WANT MEAT.

    If you go again, I'm packing myself in your luggage.

  8. This place looks totally gorgeous!!!

    The hottest/humid place I've ever been...Hong Kong in early July. I remember thinking to myself, "I will never be this hot/humid again at 9am. Ever. It's not possible."

    So there's that to add to your list of crazy-humid-places to visit!

  9. Wow that place looks amazing!!

  10. I want to go to there.

    Hottest/most humid place I've ever been is definitely Nicaragua in June. I'm not a sweaty person, generally, and I'd find myself thinking "HOW is it possible I am sweating this much?! Where is all this water coming from?" Two cold showers a day were a necessity.

  11. Oh, how incredibly beautiful! (Its strange how often I've been hearing about Mauritius since I first read this post. Most recently in the news about the crime and economy and in a book I was reading.)