It is a lot warmer on the West coast than in the centre of the island, maybe 5 degrees difference, and strangely less wind. Feeling extremely hot, I jumped at the opportunity to go for a drive and a walk in the forest close to Grande Bassin.
This time the deer were not hiding.
There are thousands of deer in the forests, wild boars and hare as well. You need to keep your eyes open at all times, you never know what you might see.
I was lucky to have chosen the right clothes today as I had checked the excellent weather forecast…for once!
It was a real surprise to discover that one of the oldest horse race courses in the world is in Mauritius; who would have bet on that? Just on the edge of the city, the Mauritius Turf club was founded by the British in 1812. I was delighted to attend the last meeting of the year.
I got there early, was allocated a parking space next to the grandstand by two nice policemen who even asked me for betting tips. ‘Don’t bet on what I bet on’ was my advice. Then I realised that my ticket and members lounge access I had left at home.
‘They will let me in without that, ‘ I reassured myself, ‘Oops!’ I am sure Colonel Draper never had to show a pass.
You can bet down here, buy refreshments and watch the races on tv but if you go up one flight of stairs you can watch in style from here…
Yes, they did let me in. The staff could not have been more helpful and gave me a replacement badge.
Rules and traditions were well respected and fortunately I had not forgotten to wear a suit and tie because then I would definitely have had to watch from the stands!
Whilst studying the form and trying to look knowledgeable, I heard the Mauritius Police Band marching on to the course. I went for a look and listen.
I returned, due to the heat and the need for liquid refreshment wondering what Mousse T and Tom Jones would have thought of the last song played.
Time to go and place my bet but it was slightly confusing, maybe it was the heat?
Several more lost bets later, it was now time to go to the paddock and study up-to-the-minute form…and not just the fillies!
You could also look from here for the next winner.
So I backed this one ‘Evergreen’.
It was a thrilling race…
…And Evergreen won! I didn’t do quite so well in the next race.
The sounds of music from a Bollywood film echoed loudly across the course so I went for a look.
I wasn’t the only one looking for a tip.
I got back just in time for the next race and my second winner!
It was a great day, faultlessly put on by the Turf Club and I am thoroughly looking forward to next year already.
Probably the most creative festive decoration I have seen in recent weeks. It is made from empty champagne bottles and must have been fun putting together! Mine is going to come freshly cut from the forest on Christmas Eve.
144 mountain bikers from Mauritius, Reunion, France, Germany, New Zealand, Namibia and Australia, cycled 200 kilometres around the southern part of the island during three early morning stages at the end of November.
This was the seventh year that the race had been held allowing riders to access private lands and experience amazing views as they climbed and descended the slopes of the wild and open countryside of the south. It was exhausting and hot just watching them!
One of the rules is that competitors must race in teams of two and stay together at all times. Teams can be entered for Mens, Ladies, Mixed, Over 40s and Juniors.
Accommodation was at the 4* Tamassa at Bel Ombre, part of the LUX Group of hotels who made everyone very welcome, particular thanks should go to the restaurant and bar staff who were excellent. Some competitors decided to stay in the tented village; no air con though!
Although this was a competition and everyone wanted to do their best, you could not fail to see the camaraderie between all the participants after the race and during the rest time. One overseas rider thought his race weekend was over after the second day when he broke a wheel on the course. A local Mauritian competitor immediately offered his spare when he found this out later that day. All the bikes needed a good wash and some TLC after the ride.
Many riders brought their families as well and this added to the happy and friendly atmosphere around the start/finish and hotel.
Every night the leaders were given ‘jerseys’ (microfibre thin tops) and medals at prize giving. The team of Julien Absalon (Double Olympic Champion) and Yannick Lincoln were the winners of the Mens competition and completed the course in 8 hours, 31 minutes and 8 seconds at an average speed of 21.1km/hour. They were very fit!
Congratulations to everyone who took part and finished the course and specials thanks to the sponsors and volunteers who made it all happen.
Today is the last day that I can send my Christmas cards unless they are for delivery on the island. Its been a challenge to find any cards as I am told they usually don’t go on sale until much closer to 25 December. Postage varies substantially based on weight and size.
So, now armed with my thin, light and small cards, I strolled (its over 30 degrees, of course I strolled) along to the Post Office to queue in line to be weighed and measured.
As usual, I am surprised by things on the way. For example I did not expect to see these toddler swimming inflatables on sale whilst queuing at the traffic lights.
Or this unusual purpose for a boat.
The streets are busy with preparations for the PORLWI festival of light which starts tomorrow night. I will cover that in another post.
The Post Office is next to the Blue Penny museum.
Mauritius’ first two postage stamps were issued in 1847 and were the first stamps issued outside of Great Britain in any part of the British Empire. They were a red one penny and a blue two penny. Does this prove blues are superior to reds?
Having bought all the stamps necessary, they all needed to be licked and applied before posting. Having been used to self adhesive ones for a while now, it was strange to taste the glue which I can assure you was strong and sticky and got on my fingers too!
My total postage was the equivalent of £13.32 and seemed good value to me but will they arrive before Christmas?