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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Rodrigues Walks

The east coast of Rodrigues has some spectacular coastal scenery as well as well-marked walks to facilitate its enjoyment. The bus system also (usually) allows access, just allow a day for the entire event.

The A Team of 6 did the first three three walks easy to moderate of about 5- 6 km each.

 Other teams of various sizes did the rest.

Walk 1 - Graviers - Mourouk 1 August 2015

Our first foray was the easy route from Graviers to Mourouck.- mostly along the beach or the coastal woodland.

Start of the walk - Graviers
We understood that the bus to Graviers was scheduled to leave the bus station in Port Mathurin at 0800. Unfortunately this was the Sunday schedule - on Saturdays it leaves at 0745 - about 5 minutes before we got there. We took the 0900 bus.

This is an easy walk - mostly along the beach or the coastal pine forest.

Crowded beach

Approaching Mourouk

Walk 2 - Graviers - St Francois 2 August

The next day - Sunday - the bus timetable shows lots of buses going to and from Graviers. We proposed to walk from Graviers to St Francois. Possibly the fact that there is rumoured to be a restaurant/cafe at St Francois where the speciality is barbecued crayfish, and that we should be there by lunchtime had something to do with this intent.
Unfortunately, when we arrived at the bus terminus for the 0900 bus the stand was empty. We were told there "might" be one at 1200. This should have rung alarm bells, but didn't. 
St Francois Bay
We decided to reverse the walk and took the bus to St Francois, accepting that the crayfish would survive for another day.

This proved to be a more challenging walk. It takes you past three of the most scenic  bays/coves on the east coast.

The path between them involves crossing the intervening headlands, in some cases the path requires scrambles up cliffs - not vertical ones.
It also started to rain, which made the paths slippery.

All was achieved safely though and, at the end we found a small restaurant with food and beer!

Bus stop art
After lunch we sought the bus stop for the scheduled 1430 bus back to Port Mathurin. We sat there; 1430 came and went. Locals were looking at us strangely - what are these foreigners doing? This is where we thought back - if the 0900 bus didn't run - the 1200 bus "might" run - perhaps no buses to Graviers were running.
Two cars - a saloon and a pick-up stopped and the drivers were looking at us. A deal was concluded and we got driven back to Port Mathurin for MUR 100 (GBP 1.80) each.
Walk 3 - Riviere Banane - Baladirou 5 August

The bus to the start point of this walk goes through the village of Riviere Banane, past the school and down an increasingly rough road. The conductor tells us to stay on at each stop until we reach a turning point where the road turns into a track. From there we walk through well cultivated market gardens to the start of the walk at the mouth of the River - or rather where the nearly dry river bed disappears under the sand of the beach.

The walk varies between easy track through the coastal trees to a scramble over rocks around the headlands.
"Fish for lunch please"

Off some of the headlands there were fishermen and women - as well as sensible creatures waiting for someone else to do the work

A bit of a scramble
 In some cases the track markers point over the rocks despite there being a perfectly good path avoiding them. At other points, particularly towards the end the rock scramble is unavoidable and, at high tide would probably be wet.

Baladirou - end of the walk
At Baladirou - which appears to be a popular bathing spot - there were at least 5 youngsters enjoying a splash. " Which way to the bus stop?" - up a flight of steps and past the shop. The road continued to Grande Baie and Anse aux Anglais to Port Mathurin. Some hardy souls had previously completed the whole route fro Mourouk to Port Mathurin in a day.

Walk 4 - Mont Limon 13 August
A short distance from Mount Lubin is the highest point on the island, Mont Limon 398m. A flight of steps on the right hand side of the road east towards Grande Montagne and Point Coton leads to a path to the top. Here two viewpoints afford  panoramic views over much of the island. The walk up and down, including time to admire the views, maximum time- 20 minutes.

Walk 5 - Above Port Mathurin 18 August
View to Port Mathurin

This walk was inland from friends Tim and Liz's house on the hillside behind Port Mathurin. A group of about 15 took part.
Tim pointed out an endangered Rodrigues fody which had yet to gain its yellow chest plumage.

The river
The walk goes uphill before crossing a river bed - nearly dry at present but could be a raging torrent in heavy rain - and along the far side of the valley to a viewpoint giving superb views over Port Mathurin and Mathurin Bay.
Mathurin Bay

Walk 6 - Riviere Banane to Point Coton - 19 August
The 1100 bus takes a group of 5 to Riviere Banane. This time it does not take us to the end of the road and thus enables us to bypass the first headland.

First beach and headland
There is a bit of a scramble around the first two headlands then we head uphill to the cliff top and around the head of the next valley.
We had intended to continue on to St Francois but after a good lunch in the Point Coton hotel we just went home by bus!

Shortcut - avoiding going round the end

On the way up to the clifftops

Lunch and beer in sight

Point Coton beach

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Rodrigues - The ship comes in - 28 July 2015

Recently vacated wall
 When we arrived in Port Mathurin, Rodrigues the supply ship had recently left. we tied up - starboard side to as required- to the harbour wall and stayed there after clearances had been completed. We understood that the ship visits once every 7 to 10 days, so we were not expecting another. No-one had told us about the notice on the security office showing when a ship was expected and when the wall had to be vacated. We were therefore surprised to be woken at 0530 and told to move NOW.

Entering the channel

Final turn into the basin
Just over half an hour later the ship approached and negotiated the narrow channel to the dock. The channel, like the turning basin, appears to have been carved out of the extensive flat reef to a depth of around 10 m.

Starting the turn
While there is no ship, or when she is safely docked, yachts can anchor anywhere within the turning basin. However, when the ship arrives she has to turn to lie starboard side to the wall. For this period yachts have to be anchored well towards the edge of the turning basin, our outside in the bay. There were only seven yachts at the time so there was room to anchor insude or, as one boat did, to motor around and anchor once the ship has turned.
Half way round

Nearly there

Onto the quay