A change of plans for the better…

Morning, world.
Morning, world.

Earlier that week we made an appointment with Vijay to go to Ile Au Plat, however during our visit to Ile Aux Cerfs, the French couple we met told us that the sea is very unpredictable and their trip got cancelled at the last moment. As we had a very short amount of time left in Mauritius, we decided to not take the risk (after all, we would come back), so first thing in the morning before breakfast, I found Vijay and he was very understanding and in fact the sea was very choppy for the catamaran, so he gave us back our money because he was an utter babe.

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Loums, just taking it all in, in a white cotton dressing gown.

We went to the spa and asked to get ‘Shanti’ massages because they looked awesome and also I thought it would be good cos that’s a name of a song of Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’ album, and that it one amazing album, luckily the word continued to sit up on its pedestal because this was 60 minutes of one very relaxing massage – I think I also dosed off at one point.

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Probably the best dumplings I have ever eaten, and I love me some dumplings.

After we slowly drifted out of dream mode, we decided we wanted to go to Grand Baie again, because it’s a lovely part of the North-West of the island, and also Loums’ mother told us about a restaurant she used to go to when she lived there called Ocean Restaurant and we were on orders to go there.  After walking around the area, we stumbled across a film crew and realised we were walking through a set, very random but also pretty cool to see it on the island. We walked down a couple of back routes and found the restaurant and I have to say, Josiane was right. Loums had mine frites and declared it probably the best version of the dish he’d ever tried and I had Beef Samuta (I’d never heard of it before and haven’t since) it was very very ginger-y and even though it was beef it was still very light, with a side of dumplings. This meal was of course drunk with Pheonix.

Samosaaaaaaaa!
Samosaaaaaaaa!

We talked for a while after we finished the meal because it was just so good, and then we went to SuperU to get wine for dinner for heading back, as Loums’ aunt and uncle Leticia and Jean-Noel (remember them?) were picking us up that evening to go to theirs in Pamplemousses for a family meal. When we were there Loums’ grandmother was also there, it was lovely to see her again. We had more Pheonix and Jean-Noel put on Sega music in the background, Melissa and Gladys then arrived and Jean-Noel turned up the music so we could dance which we did. Dinner of chicken with lots of salad was then served, we talked and listened to more music, had a bit of rum as an after-dinner cleanser and eventually we were driven home through the sugar cane fields and the crop dusters back to Trou Aux Biches.

Family home.
Family home.

Going back to his roots…

After a slow morning and taking time over a light breakfast, Gladys, Claude and Melissa (Loums’ aunt, uncle and cousin, you may remember them from a few posts ago), picked us up and we drove across the sugar cane fields and through the mountains to Goodlands, where the base of the family lies at his grandmother’s home. She lives almost in the centre of Goodlands, the main street of which was a very long main road filled with grocery stores, clothes shops, mobile food stands, so the smell of the place was filled with fried breadcrumbs and nuts. One of his mother’s younger brother’s Jean-Noel and his wife Leticia, built their home adjoining to Loums’ grandmother to expand the hub of family life.

Salade de tomates
Salade de tomates

We stayed at theirs for a while, talking over a cool bottle of Pheonix and little samosas. His grandmother then entered the room to announce that it was time for lunch. She had pickled mangos and made Cari au Poulet, very similar to the one we ate at Eureka the week before, salade de tomates with rotis and rice. As grandmothers do, she insisted that we had eaten too little after we took time to pause, so we ended up eating far too much. When she saw that we were fading slightly, we chuckled and cleared our plates, had a little walk around and started to play many rounds of dominoes.

Cari au poulet with rotis.
Cari au poulet with rotis.

Her brother Lewis, who Loums was very anxious to see again arrived, he was a wonderful man who insisted that she fix the holes in her ceilings as during monsoon season it lets all the water in, to which his grandmother said that due to the heat, when the water evaporates it creates a lovely atmosphere in the house! We looked onto this debate (I tried to understand as much as possible) which ended with a big hug and kisses all round and words of “you’ll never change”. Florence, Loums’ aunt then arrived before she went to church, while she and Loums caught up, I carried on playing dominoes with Melissa and granny, who were very patient with me whilst I learnt the rules.

Gladys arrived at around to pick us up to take us on a slow drive home so we could take in all the views. It was wonderful to be welcomed into their family without hesitation, and it reminded me of how my own family are when we reunite in Cornwall. When we arrived back, we went for a walk along the beach which we definitely needed after that lunch! The walk seemed to do the trick, and along the way I found some spices and little souvenirs for my sisters.

We then had an appéro by the sea, had a light yet very tasty dinner which is very easy with Mauritian food! The moon was especially huge that evening so we went back down to the sea before going up to bed. Another end to a day full of laughter and with Loums’ family.

 

Loums' vivacious, warm and wise grandmother.
Loums’ vivacious, warm and wise grandmother with her brother Lewis.

 

Mauritian Family

This was Saturday, I realise I haven’t marked the dates or days since I started writing this blog, however dates or days didn’t really exist while we were there, it was more ‘Shall we do this tomorrow?’ way of planning things with the exception of our road trips, but for the basis of making it all fit together in your mind, I shall now keep track of the days as I write.

After breakfast, Loums’ aunt and uncle Gladys and Claude picked us up at around 10am, and we drove to the local supermarket SuperU in Grand Baie, which is a French supermarket chain, to get chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms and a baguette for our lunch.

Chouchou!
Chouchou!

This was the first time that Loums had seen them for 10 years so they had a lot to talk about so while they slowly made the rounds of the aisle’s in the store, I was taking pictures of vegetables which I’d never seen before to send to my mum with the caption ‘LOOK, LOOK AT THESE, IT’S A WHITE CUCUMBER!’, I felt I needed to remind Gladys that I’d never been south of the equator before and this isn’t just what I do every time I go into a supermarket in another country, to which she pointed out other Mauritian produce  for me to take pictures of.

Afterwards they drove us to Cap Malheureux, which is so named because of either the amount of ships which ran aground there, or due to the nearby French defeat by the English, who then advanced on Port Louis (the capital).  Across the water you see the island Coin de Mire, or Gunners Coin, which looks like Pride Rock from

Coin de Mire
Coin de Mire

‘The Lion King’ and got its name after years of ship hiding their silver and gold there before docking in Port Louis. When looking back to land you see the Eglise de Cap Malhereux which has an incredibly bright pinky-red roof.

Eglise de Cap Malheureux.
Eglise de Cap Malheureux.

After walking around and being very tourist-y with our cameras, we then drove on to another one of Loums’ aunts, Lynda where there was also, the famed Grandmother Cyrus! She was the quintessential matriarch of the Cyrus family, who was like a village elder to the family, great force of nature who was also very sweet. Lynda brought us drinks and we were all sat around talking for a while, Loums bringing them up to speed with news from his mother and siblings, and the aunts doing the same for his cousins, aunts and uncles some of whom are in Nigeria, Australia and Belgium. As we were leaving to have lunch at Gladys’, Loums’ cousin Stephan came in who was on holiday from work in the Caribbean and we made plans to meet up later that day.

Loums - gatherer of coconuts!
Loums – gatherer of coconuts!

While we were getting food ready at Gladys’, Loums got 4 coconut’s down from the palm in their garden, Claude cut them open, poured the water into a jug and that’s what we ate with our lunch! From the soil in the ground to food at the table, without any extractions of ingredients or sanitisation; a luxury which you have to pay more to get unless grown yourself in England, without ‘yaaa these are like, totally organic from my garden, yaaaa’ pretentiousness about it which was very refreshing and natural. After we ate and, got to know each other better and talked about life in Mauritius, England and France. Claude went to get Loums’ cousin, Melissa from work. The three of us talked some more and when they returned, Melissa took Loums and I to Goodlands, the town where him mother lived with his grandmother and where he and his brothers often went when they were here 10 years ago. It was very busy as it was a Saturday very loud, and smelled a lot of fried Samosas. We then went to his grandmother’s house which was next to his uncle, Jean-Noel’s. We had an apperetif of rum and Pheonix beer with him and his wife Leticia and Loums brought them up to speed with tales from France, how we met etc. It was very special and so important to spend such a long amount of time with as many family members as possible and we seemed to have been stuck in a time warp, until Stephan arrived to take us back to Trou aux Biches.

Driving home with Stephan.
Driving home with Stephan.

I loved driving through Mauritius so much and have so many great memories of this drive which was about 45 minutes, of the sun setting over the sugar cane fields which lined either side of the road, the quietness of the roads, people chatting outside of the quincailleries (which Loums translated as shops ‘which stocked everything but the kitchen sink’), houses which were clumped together, some in the middle of construction some standing alone in amongst crops, all of which had the mountains of

Mauritius in the background. We stopped off at a hotel where Stephan used to work before he moved to the Caribbean where he introduced us to his old colleagues, one of whom was from Yorkshire and had lived in Mauritius for about 6 years. Then we went on to Casuarina to have dinner and then we had our favourite cocktail (mojito), and then went down to the beach to have a walk before bed.