Rodrigues... a cursory glance after a very brief visit...

At the moment Tin Tin and her intrepid crew of 3 greybeards are making the final 40 miles to the northern end of Mauritius (pronounced Maurice en Francais) having said goodbye to her smaller associate island of Rodrigues where we spent a few days relaxing after the long voyage through stormy seas from the Australian Indian Ocean outpost of Cocos Keeling.

The islands of Rodrigues and Mauritius were wrestled from the French just over 200yrs ago and one might have thought that in the intervening two centuries that the English language and customs might have all but superseded the French... but no.. It is veritable melange ... although traffic does drive on the left, English is an official language, road signs are in English and a strangely familiar feeling came over me when I came across double yellow lines. Despite these signs of a British presence it appears that French and Creole is the dominant mode of speech, on Rodrigues at least. Looking at the map of Mauritius you will notice that the majority of place names are French.

Rodrigues is a very good natured place, a little more laid back, and with a slower pace than its dominant partner. We hired a car... No documents changed hands.. and made quick tour around the rather barren looking island. The lower slopes are extremely dry and the small plots of maize we saw were all suffering at the end of a long dry period. While we were there water shortages had prompted the women of one village to blockade the road until the situation was resolved when water bowsers sent to relieve the shortage. Higher up the island the vegetation lost is dedicated look and the temperature also changed significantly, bringing on a rash of goosebumps and rolling up of windows.

All around the island we saw the local style of boat being used out on the reef in the lagoon, or hauled up on beaches. Many have a transom designed to fit an outboard motor to but few seemed to have one, however a large number had spars and sails laid out along their thwarts and we saw a few that were being sailed across the lagoon. They are used to take fishermen out to the reef around low tide where they wander all over the reef seemingly walking on water looking for fish and crab, or they line up along the drop off and play a line into the deeper water looking for larger fish.

The photos I've included are of these boats... and a line of fishermen.. and I couldn't resist one of a small French lad feeding a giant tortoise..


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