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Published: March 30th 2023
Leaving Fremantle we set off on a seven day sail to the island of Mauritius. Seven days with our fellow travellers on board what Ian has started to call The Sunshine Home for the chronically miserable. Passengers have a range of activities to engage in or not as the whim takes them, lectures, sports, arts, crafts, exercise, games, quizzes, music…the list just goes on and on. Then there is the freely available food, numerous different styles and venues. Yet still some people complain.
Ian loves the lectures on a huge range of subjects and usually goes to a couple each day.
One of the people on our dining table (Ann, a retired nurse from Canada) tells us of an incident she came across. Ann was eating some food when a lady sat down near her sobbing piteously. Apparently she had asked a waiter to get her a cappuccino 20 minutes before and it had not been delivered. To make matters worse, apparently there is rust on her balcony! Others complain that it is too hot / cold in any given area, that the entertainment on any given night was not good. (We have
seen approximately 70 shows so far. Many have been superb, most at least excellent and only a very few merely acceptable.) I’ll return to the incessant whining of some later.
I am spending most afternoons in the art class. The teacher, Georgina, has been wonderful in guiding and challenging us all. (She is a professional artist.) Ian and others say my standards have come along markedly (Ian - they have) but I just really enjoy it. One day Georgina says she wants us to practice still life with human models. Ian comes to meet me at the end of the class and I put it to him. Once he is satisfied he can at least keep his socks on and doesn’t have to hold a rose in his teeth he agrees.
The following day Ian and another gent show up and adopt various poses while we all sketch and Georgina suggests how we should progress. I don’t think it is my strong suite but it is fun and some of the class are really good.
We also put on an exhibition of the work we have done. There is a vast range of subjects. I have concentrated on animals and flowers, and am really pleased with a drawing of a field mouse and another of a giraffe. All together about 70 - 80 pictures are hung up on display and fellow passengers are made aware of the event in the daily programme and the morning information TV programme. The work is seen by many people (including the Captain), and is well received. Several pieces are even sold. A friend who is asked to sell one of her pieces and entirely unsure how much to ask seeks advice from Georgina. £50 - £75 is the suggested range, and the picture is bought!
At the end of the week sailing we arrive at Mauritius, a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, famous for no longer having any Dodo’s. The guide tells us a little of the history. The island was occupied in turn by the Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch and then French until the British turned up and took it over. The result is that all the government signs (road signs etc) are in English but many of the signs put up by the locals are in a form of Creole French. They drive on the left and have UK electric systems.
We are going to the C Beach resort to lazy on the sands, my favourite activity. It is just your average every day tropical paradise, blue skies, white sand, verdant green vegetation together with a swimming pool, sun beds, restaurant etc. The whinging starts almost immediately, “there aren’ t enough sun beds.” There is plenty of seating, some in the sun, some in the shade but what a first world problem to have, you must sit on a seat rather than lie on a sun bed. Seemingly no one wants you just use one of the provided towels to lie on the sand.
A buffet lunch is provided (the pizza did take a long time to be served !!!!) and drinks are very reasonably priced. 230 Mauritian Rupees for a beer. (And no, stupidly we hadn’t found out the exchange rate ahead of time, it turns out to have been £3.70 so not bad.)
We have a swim in the pool and in the sea, before using the pedalo to explore the lagoon. The water is crystal clear and only about 3 feet deep so we see many sea cucumbers and some fish. A good relaxing day. Although goodness knows the ship is relaxing itself.
The following day we moor at Reunion, an island the French retained and is now legally part of France. Another volcanic island with the requisite sea, sand and vegetation as previously noted for tropical escapes. We take the shuttle bus to St Gilles les Bains on the west coast.
The idea is to find another resort to lounge around in. Unfortunately this time it is more of a seaside resort. ( Ian’s words Cue complaints re the lack of a proper shopping mall - some of these people need beating to death with their mobility aids.) Instead we walk onto the wonderful beach and look at the fearsome breakers crashing over the harbour wall and onto the sand.
We go into a beachside cafe and ask is there anywhere we can hire a sunshade etc. The waitress tells us no, but then goes off to speak to her manager. She returns with one of the cafe’s parasols and just asks that we bring it back when we have finished, amazing!
Establishing camp just above the wave line we watch the sea, other visitors and read our books. There are signs saying swimming is forbidden, but hey, clearly that can’t be right. The beach shelves down into the water very steeply. We watch a number of people (locals by the look) enter the water, by the time they are 12 feet or so in they are obviously out of their depth. One older man is swept past our position along the beach. We watch with interest as he struggles to regain the land. It seems the authorities might have a point. We paddle up to our knees but that is it.
After a couple of hours we have had enough. We take the parasol back to the cafe and sit down to have very reasonably priced ice cream sundaes (7 euro each) and tip the waitress, not least because of the kindness she showed us.
It is oppressively hot so we walk back to the pick up point and the return to our ship.
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