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Aside

Returning from Rodrigues

Claudine, the hostess, was serving breakfast that morning and they started chatting

Breakfast display

Breakfast display

about dinner. They asked about lobsters and she said that she could try even if it was a bit at short notice. So, they decided to make a first stop into town, get the supplies they wanted, cancel their booking with Marlin Bleu and then head out for the mountains and then dot he south west coast ending up in St Francois for a dip in the sea.

In town they found parking easily in front of the bank where they had to draw money, then walked to the warehouse of the ‘King of Rodrigues’ where Shameemah bought a slab of Belgian cooking chocolate and then the other ladies went to hunt for Rodrigues sausages while she went up to the 2 Freres to order their picnic pizzas.

Their menu looked interesting, but since the owner was not there it was not open for dinner. She ordered a vegetarian pizza and a pizza de la mer. They went to put the shopping back in their room while the pizzas got ready. Luckily she did not have to go back into town, Shameemah picked up the pizzas on her way up.

And so they started out again. First stop at Valerie’s where they bought loads of local jam, jellies and condiments. Valerie, it seems, had had a bad fall and now cannot see but she is a great person. Still very much interested in what she does and open to suggestions too.

Down in the valley of the bees

Down in the valley of the bees

After Valerie’s they stopped at Quatre Vents for honey and bee-related products. One had to find these places but once they were found, it was a pleasure to just be there – tucked in some remote valley, very green and quiet.

After the bees they headed down towards the south coast where they stopped at Cité

Patate, an end of the world track that leads to the end point of an old, mostly abandoned village. At the end of this track they stopped and had a picnic, being visited only by goats and hens on an otherwise empty piece of a rather rocky coast.

Picnic at Cité Patate

Picnic at Cité Patate

The pizzas were excellent. The ‘sea’ one had locally smoked marlin and pickled limes on it, a great combination. They stayed a while admiring the view and enjoying the quiet. Following a nice coast road they stopped a few times to purchase the local baskets and some more pickles and chillies, and then made it slowly to St Francois beach.

Beach at St Francois

Beach at St Francois

By then the wind had lifted a bit. Adam and Shameemah went for a swim, she went just up to her legs while the others were on the beach enjoying the view of a very empty white beach with a turquoise sea.

Back at the lodge they washed, rested and had tea, took lots of sunset pictures and then later made it to the hostess’s dining room for dinner. It was more convenient for her because there was flambé on the menu and she wanted to use her big kitchen instead of the smallish kitchen of the dining room.

Dinner started with local smoked marlin on a bed of warm potatoes – inspired,  from

Smoked marlin starter

Smoked marlin starter

herring on potatoes and excellent with marlin too. Then, she managed to get us a shell that she calls ‘tourne à gauche’ (translates by ‘turn to the left’) it was just a amuse bouche portion to let us have a taste. This was excellent. Their friends who were there know of this shell but they put it whole in Chinese soups and they say it is usually like rubber but this was nicely prepared and chopped up  – not soft but not rubbery either.

Sauté of local prawns

Sauté of local prawns

Then came the garlic butter prawns with white rice. They managed to wipe out the wok-full that she made. It was very fresh, it tasted like the real thing. Ok, ok, not as nice and big and firm as what she used to get in the DRC but nice for this part of the world. And then came the surprise – lobster flambé. She went into the kitchen to help with that since the hostess asked. It was great fun to work in this huge big kitchen. The lobster was excellent and just enough for all of us. More than that would have been stuffing themselves silly for no reason.

Crème caramel

Crème caramel

Pudding was crème caramel with orange zest. That was excellent too. They chatted to the hostess for a while after the meal and then made it to the room to finish packing, have tea and chat some more.

Breakfast was a jolly affair except that Adam did not want to leave. They stuck candles on

Last breakfast

Last breakfast

the brioche for Shameemah’s birthday. Then they took a little tour of the Domaine de la Paix with Claudine, to see her improvements, her massage room and other extensions. After which they loaded the cars and left with fond farewells of the Claudine.

Birthday brioche

Birthday brioche

At this airport, funnily, they could do some duty free shopping! Yes, it is the same country

Farewell to the Domaine

Farewell to the Domaine

but getting back to Mauritius, duty free shopping is possible. So they did just that and then boarded. Pascal, the host, was getting back that day, they saw him through the terminal window but he did not see them.

Another uneventful flight with a small snack and they landed in the heat of the day. It was a public holiday Tuesday. They picked up the cars in town and went off to the beach where they unpacked slowly, ate some of the pie from Rodrigues and did nothing much for the rest of the day.

 

 

 

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Pathway into the Domaine

 

All in all, the Rodrigues holiday was a real holiday where the being was present and the doing was optional. They did a lot, saw the sights and had a great time together – creating bonds! It was certainly not the same Rodrigues that she saw some 20 years back. She thinks things are better but there had been three weeks of rain, so the whole place also looked better.

 

As much as she thinks Mauritius is paradise lost, Rodrigues is paradise found. That is not to say that there are no snakes in paradise but the place sure has potential – for basic eco tourism, for peace and quiet and serenity. People who know what they want, should go looking for this place.

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Running around Rodrigues

 

The first stop was the market. It was going full swing when they arrived. They found parking easily next to the bus

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Breakfast at Domaine de la Paix

terminal and walked there. They were welcomed, but not

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At the market

hounded like in Africa. They were told where was what, so the ladies headed for the pie lady first and ordered pies to take back home to Mauritius. She headed for the chilli sauces and bought what she thought would make nice gifts and for the house too while the cousin was buying salted fish and beans.

They were recommended to a small shop to get the real red bean of Rodrigues. After the market, they headed there: Vivella it was called – a general grocery store with a rather stern aunty with no sense of humour. They bought more beans there – it was cheaper than in the market. The people of Mauritius seem to think that these beans are really special.

Rising tide at Grand Baie

Rising tide at Grand Baie

Then they headed out of town. By the time they reached Grand Baie, some of them needed to visit a loo and there was none to be found. They took some pictures and then headed to the other side of the bay where they thought there were facilities. Well, it was only a small shop. But one of the shoppers offered to take them to his place to use the facilities. It was only at a stone throw, so they went there while Micha went to ask the shopkeeper for eggs. The lady went into her chicken coop and fetched 5 fresh eggs for him.

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Path down to Baladirou beach

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Beach at Baladirou

They found a coast track which they followed up to Baladirou. It was a bumpy ride for a bit, but one gets to see the little development on that piece of cliff as well as someone’s goat pen cut into the cliffs. At Baladirou they walked down 52 steps to a beautiful, peaceful and white beach. There was a tent there but otherwise they were the only ones visiting the beach that morning.

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Cotton bay beach

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View of Cotton bay

There was no traffic as such. Roads in Rodrigues are good but not wide and there are practically no signs indicating where is what. Luckily the tiboussol.com map is great. They followed that down to Cotton Bay, stopping at various sights on the way.

It was closing in to lunch time and they did not bring much in the car, so they were on the lookout for an eatery of

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Chez Madame La Rose for lunch

sorts. They all opted not to eat at the hotel at Cotton Bay – she sojourned there some 20 years back when she came diving in Rodrigues. And this is how they found Madame La Rose’s place. They ordered fish curry and fish stew and she had calamari with garlic butter. This was served with brinjal achar and lentils. It was simple but tasty and copious.

Lunch over, they headed in the direction of St Francois and

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Anse Ali

stopped at Anse Ali, another of these pristine beaches

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The only indication to Anse Ali

with no one. St Francois is a bit more developed but beautifully laid out. The beach was inviting but they had just eaten and they wanted to see Trou d’Argent. So, they walked through a forest of casuarina and eucalyptus trees to this view point. They opted to see Trou d’Argent from the top – there is a trail to the beach.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Trou d’Argent

This is a

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Overlooking Trou d’Argent

very famous beach that is tucked under a hanging cliff. The sand is while and reflects like silver in full moon – therefore the name! They stayed there to enjoy the view with some other tourists, only very few. Then they started back. Meandering through the middle of the country, they found their way back to their lodgings.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Birthday party

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Salade de crevettes locales

That day was mother’s birthday and the hostess had promised to make them a dinner of dorado fish and cake for pudding.

 

They showered and rested and then made their way to the bar/dining room where the dinner was served. It was local prawn salad as starter, followed by butter fried fish with rice and chocolate cake and another meringue pudding because in another few days it would be Shameemah’s birthday too. Everything was nice, the prawns were special.

Aside

Highlands Meander

From Braemar they slowly went back to Aberdeen, to the Family History Society. It was drizzling on and off. They passed some beautiful glens, rivers flowing through, fields of green grass, some quaint crofts and a few of these modest ‘piles’ (see previous blog). While Coen was doing his research, U. San and her went in search of a loo which they found in a nearby supermarket where they also had some coffee and pastries.

Highland scenery

Highland croft

Highland bul

And they were off on the roads again. This time they were in search of some distilleries too. In spite of the drizzle, they meandered through the beautiful green Scottish country side. It is on this meander that they fell onto another distillery in the middle of nowhere. The stuff there was rather fiery, at least the ones they tasted. It was an independently owned distillery (Glendronach), actually owned by three partners, two of whom being South Africans! This is where they also made the acquaintance of their first highland bulls.

One of the Chivas tasting rooms

On, on, they went through this lush scenery. And finally made it into THE whiskey district. It was easy to figure that much of all this is still run by a company called the Chivas Brothers. And they do not only make Chivas Regal. Since this is not a dissertation about the whiskey trade in Scotland…

Highland scenery

Road through the forest

Duff town clock tower

A few more stops at distilleries and they started to look for accommodation for the night. In the small towns, everything was fully booked and they ended up in the whiskey capital of the Highlands, Dufftown. This is a quaint town surrounded by famous distilleries, Glenfiddich being one of them. It took some asking around before they got some accommodation with an aunty up the main road.

Glenfiddich Restraurant

That evening they patronised the Glenfiddish restaurant, a rather ‘tapageur’ affair, not in the noise level but the way they advertise the place. The food was excellent and well served, and did not break the bank either. Coen and U. San had Angus beef and she was doing her research on haggis. They spent a nice evening before retiring back at their B&B. The next morning the aunty prepared breakfast before they were on the road again, venturing further into the Highlands and then back south to Edinburgh.

Dinner at the Glenfiddich restaurant

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