Sunday on the south side
Trip Start Sep 06, 2012
14Trip End Oct 09, 2012
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Where I stayed
After a quick breakfast I drove back down to the south end of the island to the Prodigues’ house. We spent the last part of the morning in their kitchen, as Mrs. Prodigue finished preparing lunch, talking about all sorts of things: the American presidential campaign, the relative merits of former French president Sarkozy and newly elected president Hollande, the crisis in Syria, Area 51, the Apollo landings (yes, that way: how can we know for sure? – one hears so many things on TV), John F. Kennedy, travel around Africa, Rodrigue island (a distant, less modern island that is part of Mauritius), Socialism versus Capitalism, Church history, questions on prophecy, the 7 churches of Revelation 2-3, what the poverty line means in America as compared to Mauritius (when I explained that Americans can own a car, have air conditioning and a television [and running water of course], overeat to the point of morbid obesity [while on foodstamps] and still be considered "poor", they smiled and shook their heads in wonder).
Visits here are few and far between, so we take advantage of the opportunities to share our thoughts and enjoy each other’s company.
At noon we repaired to the table and enjoyed an Indian-inspired lunch: raw vegetable salad with vinaigrette, followed by spicy chicken curry over white rice, with a glass of Portuguese rosé to help it down. After lunch we continued our conversation on more biblical topics: Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, how Christians are to face trials, questions of perspective on this life and the next, strategies for Christian communication; it was a varied and encouraging discussion.
After strong coffee to perk us up, we embarked in their car and started driving toward Blue Bay, a small protected bay beyond Mahébourg, to the east of the airport. Jocelyn has a friend from work who lives in the area who would show us where glass-bottom-boat rides can be arranged in an underwater nature reserve. We’re considering that as a possible festival activity for October. The sky was overcast to the point of occasional light drizzle, and there was a brisk breeze blowing from the south east, cool enough that many people were wearing jackets.
The Bay was crowded with people of all ages, including many families, enjoying their Sunday off by the water. There was quite a lot of beer in evidence, but no one visibly inebriated and the scene was quite pleasant. Young people and family members were simply enjoying each other’s company.
There is an innocent quality about Mauritius, where most people are still somewhat protected from the weirdness and debauchery that is becoming such a central part of Western entertainment and culture. It’s a bit like going back in time a couple of decades, sometimes more. The music on the radio often seems quite retro – it’s common to hear French music from the 50s – pre-“yeh-yeh” as the French sometimes call 60s pop music.
Jocelyn discussed possibilities and terms with a boatman, after which we walked up onto the grass above the beach and shared a glass of peach juice and a cheese sandwich that Jocelyn’s work friend and his wife and brought along in a typical gesture of Mauritian hospitality. It was about 5:00 pm by this time, only an hour of daylight left, so we thanked our friends for their help and hospitality and headed to the car. As we prepared to embark, fruit seller pushed up on his bicycle loaded down with coconuts and fruit. He had obviously hit the beer a little too hard and though he had trouble enunciating clearly did his best to sell us some fruit, slashing prices to make a sale. We ignored him but he didn’t seem to notice. I thought of a raggedly dressed Barney Fife who had two beers too many….
We started back to the Prodigues’ home stopping at the southern tip of the island so I could have a look at the surf pounding near some interesting rock formations called the “crying rock” (always damp from the surf) and the “praying woman” (it does look like such a silhouette) which I had never seen before.
Finally as the sun turned the horizon red, we pulled into their driveway and took our leave. They will have the visit of Bernard Hongerloot at the end of this month so the parting was a little easier this time. I drove back to Quatre Bornes as the sky darkened, arriving back after dark. After the copious lunch, an additional sandwich and no physical activity to speak of, I had no need of dinner. I’ll try to turn in early tonight, hope to sleep through and be ready to go tomorrow morning for my flight to Nairobi and then on to Kigali for the next portion of my trip.