Valiam goes Sailing around the World
including our recent Caribbean to Mediterranean Interlude on Lati
 
Torrential rain in Mauritius
17/09/2008

Well, we were ready to go today but it hasn't stopped raining heavily since last night and the wind appears to be blowing horizontally! We would rather sail to Reunion in more pleasant weather and with better visibility. So we are doing a few more jobs - sewing machine repairs whilst we still have power and Bill thinks he may be able to get the gas bottle filled. Filling the gas bottle is a bit of drama everywhere we go. Each country has different fittings and many refuse to fill ours. We do not want to exchange our extra tough galvanised gas bottle for their crummy recycled ones!

Another article appeared in the paper yesterday on Linda with a preview photo on the front page!! It mainly talked about the work done with the children. Lewis says lots of little towns around Mauritius want to have art classes for their children now!

If its still raining tomorrow we might go and see another Bollywood movie. The last one we saw was hilarious especially as it was filmed in Surfers Paradise Australia! The costumes and storyline were over the top - great entertainment!

Hopefully you have plowed through the 100s of photos taken whilst we're here. Lewis friend Michele the stone carver visited us the other day with his wife Lore, sister Janet and gorgeous son Nigel. Lore and Janet are from Rodrigues and knew all the people in the photos we took whilst we were there! Their photo is in the Mauritius album too.

The photo above was taken of Lewis proudly wearing the 'Australia' t shirt and Josiane on Valiam the last time we saw them. Good friends we will miss dearly..................

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Leaving Mauritius
16/09/2008

photo : Razeeyah and Linda
Tuesday 16th September
Today we have been busy doing 'boat jobs' mainly packing away the art gear, bicycles etc. It's amazing how the gear needed for an art exhibition, art classes etc fits into the side of the quarter berth leaving the mattress mostly vacant. A contortionist act was necessary! Bill took a deep breath (literally) and went under water in the not so clean water of Port Louis to clean the sides and propeller of Valiam's hull. We are almost ready to head for La Reunion but the weather is looking not so good with a front coming in. We may have to wait a day or so. The main port at Reunion 'La Port' is crowded according to Jim and we will have to raft up. This prospect doesn't really appeal as we only have minimal fenders and are not really used to people walking over each other's boats. It's common practice in Europe so I guess we may have to get used to it.

We took Lewis and Josiane out for dinner last night. Lewis looked splendid in the turquoise t shirt we gave him with 'AUSTRALIA' across the front! We phoned a taxi driver we liked to take us all out to Bambous . He had to wait while we took down the exhibition but seemed to enjoy looking at the art and photos. Originally he quoted 600rupees for the drive there and back from Port Louis but when we got back (after helping with all the gear) he said '400' is ok. That's an amazing thing for someone to do in this part of the world. Bill gave him 600 anyway. He is a lovely Hindu man called Jayraz if anyone wants a nice taxi driver in Port Louis.

Another article appeared in Le Matinel paper yesterday which I haven't seen yet. Our Indian friend Razeeyah is dropping it off for me this afternoon. Razeeyah is Muslim and is fasting at the moment for the month of Ramadan. Between sunrise and sunset she is not allowed to eat or drink - even water. Bill likes to ask the Muslim people we meet what will happen if they do eat during the day but the standard reply is always 'We cant' or 'We don't'. Fasting is like a kind of meditation and connects them closer to god. It also is a purification process. Although Fateemah one of the journalists I met said she ate a lot at night including icecream so didn't lose any weight during Ramadan. Even children are encouraged or 'trained' to fast. I tried to keep silent on my views on that one!

The article scanned for the previous log was written by Norbert of the Weekend Express. He is an art critic and has promised me an English translation! Lewis says the comments are very positive so its nice that the Mauritian people like my work.

Off to the supermarket for a few supplies before we head off. The next email will be sent from out at sea.

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Art and Music in Mauritius
14/09/2008, Ecole de Sculpture, Bambous, Mauritius


14th September 2008

Linda's Art Exhibition:
This past week has been focused on preparing and enjoying this exhibition with the people of Mauritius. Linda feels honoured and humbled by the attention and in particular the support and encouragement of her friend and mentor sculptor Lewis Dick. After working with Lewis holding Children's art workshops in Le Morne he was keen to exhibit Linda's work. Not only did he provide gallery space he and his beautiful wife Josiane and their band of helpers students Hari, Blake and Mike worked hard to make the exhibition a wonderful success. Lewis invited many Mauritian artists, musicians, teachers and the media. Linda was interviewed and photographed by many journalists as well as the local TV. The opening night on Thursday night was exciting and fun with much laughter and emotion as the Mauritian people embraced the 2 Aussies Linda and Bill into their hearts. As the champagne flowed the speeches in English and Creole were received with much clapping especially when Linda presented Lewis with a framed drawing of Gena's sculpture. Gena's story is now a pivotal point of the exhibition. (see previous entry re Gena's story)

Linda exhibited not only her drawings but some of her photos taken in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Philippines, Malaysia, Cocos Keeling Islands, Rodrigues and Mauritius. 'Images from Around the World' were displayed under each country. Some of Linda's nudes were also displayed either in the original pastel or in print form. Australian friends and family may recognize themselves in some the drawings/photos displayed! (see photo gallery - click on little camera then 'Linda's Exhibition')

Music and dance is an integral part of Ecole de Sculpture. Lewis' senior students Hari, Mike and Blake as well as being wonderful musicians are up and coming sculptors with a study tour in Switzerland planned for next year. On Thursday evening these boys played and sang on guitar and hand drum. A guest artist and musician Billy played the saxophone and flute. Linda was dobbed in by Lewis to begin the dancing with a solo bellydance!

It was a wonderful night one we will never forget. The exhibition was supposed to close yesterday but due to interest and media coverage this weekend it will be staying open until Monday night.

A special message for Lewis and Josiane :
"It's a great pleasure to work with Mr. Lewis Dick, Sculptor of Mauritius. We share a passion for the Arts and use this as a vehicle for self expression to inspire confidence in children. When children are free to experiment with tactile materials they are able to release emotions and once confident can continue to learn eventually leading worthwhile lives. We believe in working alongside the children sharing the joy in learning together. It has been especially enjoyable for me to dance and have fun the Mauritian way. I would like to thank Lewis and Josiane for their generous spirit and allowing Bill and I to become a part of their lives which also includes the community of Mauritius. My heartfelt thanks."

Linda,"Ene grand plaisir travail ek Lewis Dick, ene sculpter Mauricien,"
Nou partage ene passion pou L'Art ek nou servi sa couma ene moyen pou aide ban zenfan pou gagne confiance dan zot meme.
Kan nou donne ban zenfan libert?- pou exprime zot talent avek ban materiels simple, nou capave trouv?- ki qualit?- emotion zot mett?- dan seki zot p?- fer ek sa pou servi zot tout long zot lavi.
Sa travail ki noune fer ensam , ine fer mwa appranne inpe culture Mauricien.
Mo remercie Lewis pou so générosité.
Line permet mwa partaze so lavi ki inclure aussi la communaut?- du Morne ek L'Ile Maurice entier.
De tout c?"ur Merci


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Leaving Mauritius
13/09/2008

Photo : Linda presenting Lewis with 'Gena's sculpture'

We are now preparing to leave Mauritius for Reunion in the next few days. Reunion is an overnight sail from here so we should be there by the end of the week. We wont stay long in Reunion - just long enough to fill our gas bottles and take a look at the erupting volcano! (not at the same place!) Hopefully the weather will be kind to us for our passage to South Africa.

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Linda's Art Exhibition at Ecole de Sculpture, Bambous
08/09/2008, Mauritius


An Invitation :
To view the work of Australian Artist

Linda Frylink Anderson


"Images from Around the World"
Featuring drawings from Ecole de Sculpture
Bambous

Official Opening : 5.30pm Thursday 11th September

Venue : Ecole de Sculpture Avenue de Bricoleur Bambous
Exhibition Times : Thursday 11th, Friday 12th, Saturday 13th September
9am - 6pm

Linda is currently on a voyage around the world with her husband Bill on their yacht Valiam which they built themselves. Linda is an Artist and teacher from Queensland, Australia. She has exhibited mostly in Australia and taught children and adults for more than 20 years in schools and universities.

Linda has studied Art, Photography and Education in Canberra and Brisbane, Australia. As well as degrees in Education , she holds a Diploma in Pianoforte and has practised Middle Eastern Dance for 10 years. Her personal interest in Drawing, Music, Drama, Photography and Writing has enabled her to work with children and adults on her travels in a relaxed and enjoyable way. Linda's style of drawing has been described as being uninhibited and free. She is currently working on a book to be published at the end of her voyage around the world.

Linda would like to thank Lewis Dick (Sculptor of Mauritius), his wife Josiane and his students from d'Ecole de Sculpture for their support and friendship.

For more details on Linda's work in Mauritius see website :
www.valiam.com.au (see photo Gallery : Lewis Dick and Le Morne Workshops)

mob ph Linda : +230 7390391
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11/09/2008 | Grant Doubell
Hi there
I know that you're having a good time. Just to let you know that I am really missing your daily/ regular updates.
I am living your adventure vicariously until my day comes.
Regards
Childrens Art Workshop and Exhibition Le Morne
07/09/2008, Mauritius

On Friday Bill and Linda set up the Children's exhibition at Le Morne Cultural Centre in a beautiful and World Historic area of Mauritius. Many children in this area are underpriviged in many ways and lack funds and motivation to do something with their lives. Drawings done by the children at Linda's previous workshop were displayed along with photos and DVD of the children engaged in drawing and music. The workshop on Saturday included Drawing, Sculpture and Music. I was well attended and amny groups of children participated. Bill was Linda's teacher aide as she took 2 groups of young children for a drawing class. It is a simple concept to 'Draw from Life' but many children are never given the opportunity to do so. The children were encouraged to observe closely the shape and form of several big sculptures in front of them to draw. After drawing Lewis senior students who are excellent musicians played and sang traditional Mauritian music for all to dance to - even the parents when they arrived!

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Gena's Story
07/09/2008, Bambous, Mauritius


A students' work - L'ecole de Sculpture:
Sculpture by Gena

Always aware of his own humble beginnings Lewis is passionate about helping the poor and underprivileged children of Mauritius. His garden and small gallery is full of sculptures made by his students. One sculpture drew my attention each time I went into the garden. It is of a mother with a child on her back. The mothers face is a picture of anger and grief. The 14 year old girl - Gena who carved this sculpture is an illegitimate child. Her mother was shunned by the local Mauritian community as having a child out of wedlock is a big stigma. Her mother pretended the child was someone else's carrying her on her back and went about saying she was the babysitter. Lewis said that this girl got rid of her negative emotions by creating this sculpture. She is now a successful nurse in a local hospital. On our last visit Lewis insisted on giving me this sculpture. The sculpture is now part of Linda's exhibition "Images from around the world" We will eventually place her in the garden at home in Australia.

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Tsunami hits Mauritius
06/09/2008

Yes it's true! We were woken the other night with loud knocking on our hull. we could hear the security men talking on their radios. After Bill hurriedly pulled on some clothes and emerged the message we received was that a 'big wave' was coming at 1am and that we should tie the boat securely. The skippers and crew of all the visiting yachts all emerged and began tying extra rope and tightening the ones we had. We only have 2 suitable fenders as well as 2 we use for seats so we didn't feel adequately protected. We all stayed up until 2am. Linda tidied the boat and checked our insurance documents. As it was nothing happened in the marina. We found out that a 12 ft wave did in fact wash ashore on the coast in palces but no damage was done.
We suffered from lack of sleep but at least all was well.

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12/09/2008 | Helen
Phew! What fabulous images you have on your website, congratulations, and it is wonderful to see your interaction with the local communities as you travel.
More Art - Mauritius
03/09/2008

Wednesday 3rd September
Port Louis

This past week or so has been quite busy. Even now Linda has a deadline of getting some photos printed for an exhibition before Friday. As it is a holiday tomorrow (Ganesh Hindu festival) today will be busy getting things ready. Bill is off buying some board to cut up for the students to draw on their laps on Saturday. Bill has been and continues to be a porter, supporter and a huge help to Linda!

Yesterday was spent at Lewis' house, garden and studio in Bambous. As some of his students worked on their wooden scultptures (2 of them are going to Switzerland soon to exhibit) Linda drew several of the sculptures that are in the garden. (see photos under Linda's sketches) Louis' large piece for his client in London has come a long way in the past week. Linda drew Louis working on that too. It's been a wonderful exchange of art and music and continues to be such a pleasure. The exhibition and workshop planned for this weekend at La Morne is mainly for the underprivileged children aged 7-17years. We are becoming adept at catching buses and carting art gear around the district.

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Visitors on Valiam - Port Louis
03/09/2008, Mauritius

Photo above : Linda with Ramana, Jayashree and Suganthy who nearly drowned in a boating accident in Mauritius

As Bill was riding his bicycle around town the other day he met a German man named Heinz on a folding bicycle. It seems we do meet some amazing people on this voyage. Heinz has been cycling his way around the world for 46 years! He left Germany as a young man and manages to cycle through every country (almost) on a shoestring budget. He occasionally gives talks, sells photos etc to fund his journey which has become his career. Sometimes he camps and sometimes he stays in cheap hotels. For example when he got off the plane here in Mauritius he rode his bicycle into some cane fields to sleep. He said it was private and comfortable! He is now staying in a 600rupee(A$24) a night hotel in town and eats cheap local food. He also does well being invited to people's homes (and yachts) enjoying their hospitality. When he visited us on Valiam he had some amazing tales to tell of his adventures in obscure parts of the world.

Here at Caudan, Valiam has been photographed constantly usually with smiling people standing in front of her. A bridal party came past one day so Bill had to jump up and down poking faces in the background! The photographer turned his subject the other way! On a balmy evening we were relaxing in our cockpit when a group of Indian people took photos of each other in front of Valiam. We ended up in a friendly conversation with them and had further photos taken with them. They were from near Chennai in India and were here on a conference. Business cards were exchanged with invitations to visit them in India. Unfortunately the wind is blowing the wrong way to go there!

A few days later we bumped into the same group again at a café. They asked if we had heard the news about a boating accident here in Mauritius. Of course we hadn't as we don't hear any news - it's all in French anyway. Apparently one of the ladies Saganthy almost died. The 3 of them went out on a little tourist boat which filled up with water. None of them could swim and the boat had no life jackets. There were 11 people on the boat and the maximum is supposed to be 7. The Indian visitors were in the water hanging on to the upside down boat screaming and waving. Suganthy was trapped underneath. Luckily an Australian man Carl was on a fishing boat with his son and saw that there seemed to be a problem. He persuaded his boat man to go to the people in the water. When told about the woman Suganthy under the boat he dragged her out and resuscitated her. She spent several days in hospital in intensive care. This amazing story was told to us as we shared lunch. The man in the group Ramana insisted on paying for lunch so we invited them to visit us the following day.

Ramana, Jayashree and Suganthy visited us for sunset drinks and nibbles after they had visited the Minister of Tourism and had a media conference. Suganthy's rescuer Carl and family were also there. They were given a sumptious lunch and apologies on behalf of the Mauritian people for such an unfortunate incident. Over drinks we talked about their experiences and life in India. With lots of laughter, photos and exchange of aussie flag, koalas and a beautiful silver bangle for Linda this lovely group of people left with an open invitation for us to visit. It was the first time they had seen inside a yacht and like most people here are amazed that we sailed her here from Australia.

Here is their story published in the Readers digest:


Saturday, September 06, 2008
How they surfaced from the jaws of death
This was a drama in real life... remember Reader's Digest? V.S. Ramana, a friend, who heads the PR and corporate communication function at L&T-ECC, has sent me an email describing how he and the PR team from Chennai (or was it India) recently escaped with their lives during a visit to Mauritius. I am reproducing here what he has written and except for editing for size, I have let it remain as it is. This came as a shocker when I read it. Here goes:

Nearly 50 PR professionals from India, from various leading public and private sector organisations of India, top media as well as from the advertising sector, arrived by Air Mauritius MK 745 on the 24th August. The event was to mark the celebrations of '50 Years of Public Relations Society of India (PRSI)' - the apex PR body that decided to extend its Golden Jubilee celebrations in the 'Out of the World' Island called Mauritius.
The event had a true auspicious beginning with a kick off by Hon'ble President of Mauritius, and event participation by Minister for Industry, Director Board of Investments, High Commissioner of Mauritius in India, Director, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority,the acting Director, Govt Info Service, the CEO Air Mauritius - to name few of the stars; and many noted international PR experts. The three-day sessions of the 2nd International PR Festival ended with active participation of the delegates and speakers. It was time then time for members to enjoy the island's unique experience for the rest of the days before their scheduled departure on at day break on 31 August.
Fatema F Kaderbhay of Heldive Ltd [not Hell Dive!] came to offer an exciting 'underwater walk' - "it is so safe even for 7-year-old kids and those who do not even know swimming!" she said. It was also an unbeatable offer, said to be very special for us. A confident lot of 16 agreed to participate. At the defined moment, only 11 people set out for the venture - that could have turned into a 'disastrous adventure'.
A cab took the team, and Raj, the driver, spoke Hindi and actively engaged all the people on the finer aspects of the island. We soon reached Pereybere at the Grand Bay. The lagoon was quiet, serene and emerald blue.... truly inviting!! As we got to capture few shots on our video and still cameras, a ferry came ashore to take us to a 'platform' in the sea where we were supposed to get into the suits and begin the adventure.
Eleven of us boarded the ferry, and with the fat boat-man, Ricardo Jean Mitchel, we were a complete dozen! We did not know the prescribed maximum, but later gathered that it ought to have been just 8 - including the skipper. The surprise was that Fatema did not come along but said that she'd be available for anything if need be.
The boatman had initial trouble, with the motor not starting off in the first go. "Not a good omen?" sounded off one of the members.... and as if to ward off that 'negative effect', I shouted a prayer for all to say - "Jai Bajrang Bali!". And we certainly needed the blessings of the Lord in the next 15 minutes... "We are now about 3 to 4 metres deep," said the boatman, not very communicative or even excited, just like many other men we had come across the boats in La Plantation where we all stayed.
Soon as we went about two-third the distance, the danger ahead was visible to all of us. "There is water coming in," alerted Meena. Water started entering from the rear end of the boat, just above the place of the motor. The motor perhaps did not have the adequate power to push us all and it seemed to gasp with the 'over weight?' Meena held that she had pointed out to Ricardo of water coming in some ten minutes before, to which he is said to have retorted, "No problem!" Right now it was indeed A BIG PROBLEM! The boat man shut the engine off - asked us to stay calm and not panic, and whistled and waved to draw attention of near-by boats.
"Guys, do not panic, please stay calm," I yelled and Bharat too was trying to make others stay as calm as possible. Any panic and undue movements would surely topple the boat, even before the water filled up. We did hold ourselves together but not for too long. Water gushed in from the rear of the boat, faster than we had anticipated. The boat turtled to its left and threw us all into the lagoon. We all hit the water. Jayashree, Srinivas, Dr Anil and his wife Anita were swimmers of some sort and the rest who did not know swimming were truly in great dismay and distress.
As I held my breath to prevent seawater entering my mouth and nose, I kicked my hands and limbs to stay afloat above water. The capsized boat was right above me and I held on to it. The boat's belly was very slippery and my hand was giving away but finally I managed to hold on to the rim of the boat, he right hand holding from the outer side, and the left hand from the inner. I started stretching my legs and kept flapping to stay afloat and took stock of the situation.
Jayashree emerged from the boat's front-end, having been right under the boat and weaved her way soon out. Bharat and Dr Anil emerged on my left. I saw Srinivas who pulled Bhargavi up even as she was being towed away by the waves. Subha and Rajagopalan too were visible but were on the other side of the boat. Meena took help from Srinivas and stayed afloat. The boatman too emerged and showed signs of utter dismay. Apart from his aiding Srinivas to help Bhargavi climb up and lie on to the top of the boat he did nothing to rescue or lend a helping hand.
We all missed Suganthy! "Suganthy...where is she?" I yelled and we all started drawing the attention of the missing member - we had to act fast! 'Something is holding my leg underneath" Dr Anil said. Karl, an Australian came to our rescue - he was God sent. Off to fishing with his nine-year son, he threw a life jacket. Bhargavi and Rajagopal were quickly taken into the Coast Guard boat that came very close to our sunken ferry and threatened to tilt it further, making us lose grip. Suganthy was still not visible!
Karl rescued Subha. "Take on the man in his dark glasses - he does not know swimming!" yelled Jayashree, referring to me. Karl swam towards me, and guided me till the ladder. As I got on, I insisted: "Please find Suganthi!" In seconds, Karl went under the boat and fetched Suganthy, who was floating flat on her belly. The others too held her and soon got her aboard Karl's boat. "She is breathing" assured Karl. Suganthy was laid flat on the surface while her head hung below the body-level. She frothed from her mouth and nose. A good sign, I sort reassured myself first [I could have been right or wrong]. "Call for the emergency and ambulance".... yelled someone.
Karl's boat soon headed to the shore... which by then had many anxious onlookers. A bedspread was soon laid... as Karl helped by others put Suganthy on to the floor. She was still breathing loud from her mouth. Karl gave her some quick first aid - one of the first aid emergency acts that he had learnt from a course completed just 10 days before.
She was rolled on to her left, with her left leg stretched and the right folded up. Suganthy threw up vomiting some of the undigested food. She was constantly assured by us that she was fine and that the rest of us too were. We held her hand firmly, giving her all the sensation, the heat, and sought to get her senses alive and ticking. "Open your eyes Suganthy", and she would respond, "open wide", she'd do that... "now roll your eyes"... and she quickly reacted to it.
In minutes she was under good care of the emergency ambulance and the medical team that came in. Dr Foundun and the team rushed her to the SSRN Hospital - North - in Pamplemouss. There was water in her lungs and the required medical interventions were given even while on the move. "She will have to be in the ICU tonight and she should be fine,"...assured the doctor. With timely help and best of medical intervention, Suganthy was out of the hospital the third day. But she was advised to undertake travel only after three days for ample precaution. Jayashree stayed back and with approval from my office, I stayed back as well for support.
While Karl and his family were invited to a thanksgiving meet by all the PR men, there is one 'take home' message at the end of the event. Life alone is the only valuable thing we all hold when it comes to a challenging situation. Be it in any place on this planet earth! Would be so true even in Mauritius, the 'Out of this World' country! There is no value really to the belongings or money we lose - video and digital cameras or any such thing that we often state as 'valuables'.
The following day, the Minister Tourism met with us and Karl's family and assured action would be taken on people who messed with lives and flouted safety norms. It was a good gesture on his part.

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The Famous Wood Sculptor - Lewis Dick
31/08/2008, Mauritius


Sunday 31st August 2008
Port Louis

The day Lewis came into our lives was special in that we can see the soul and spirit of Mauritian people through his eyes. Our friendship with Lewis and his wife Josiane began with the introduction by Bill's brother Peter and partner Jennifer Bartholemew, a Melbourne artist. Lewis was invited to Australia 3 years ago to work on a piece with Jennifer for the Commonwealth Games. Lewis' English has improved in leaps and bounds since his visit to Australia and it has been a pleasure to be able to communicate with a Mauritian on a deeper level. Lewis has also traveled to Europe also to work with a renowned Swiss sculptor and his son is presently a sculptor in London. We have visited Lewis' home twice now and enjoyed Creole cooking as well as singing and dancing in his courtyard.

Lewis and Josiane live in Bambous, a quiet village 40 minutes by bus from Port Louis. On our first visit several of his students welcomed us with a song at his front gate. Lewis works with underprivileged children as their mentor giving them confidence and an opportunity to work through their emotions using wood carving as therapy. The students we have met are a credit to Lewis - quietly confident now each showing a talent not only for sculpture but music. Lewis freely mixes music with art as both are interrelated and assists in creating a happy atmosphere with everyone having fun.

The 'legend' of Lewis' success is attributed to a wooden doll he made for his daughter when she was small. Twenty five years ago Lewis was so poor that he couldn't buy his little girl a doll for Christmas. He sat under a tree very depressed and looking up into the branches he could se a branch shaped a bit like a baby. He decided to cut the branch down and make his daughter a doll for Christmas. She loved that doll and wouldn't share it with other children. One day there was a squabble between his daughter and some other children. A man happened to be walking by and when he saw the doll he asked the children where they got it. When told that her Daddy made it he insisted on being taken to him. He offered Lewis 3000 rupees for the doll. This was like winning the lottery in those days as Lewis was only earning 18 rupees a day as a labourer (about 75c) With this money he was able to buy a block of land and begin building his house where he still lives today. His daughters were upset about losing the doll so he made another one. This one they didn't like so much as it was carved like a sitting doll and they couldn't cuddle it as with the first one. The 2nd doll sat on a table in their living room. As fate would have it another man saw this doll and offered Lewis 4000 rupees for it. Now Lewis could finish his house and began his career as a wood sculptor. Now he creates large pieces for large organizations as well as private customers both here in Mauritius and overseas.

The students'work - L'ecole de Sculpture
Always aware of his own humble beginnings he is passionate about helping the poor and underprivileged children of Mauritius. His garden and small gallery is full of sculptures made by his students. One sculpture drew my attention each time I went into the garden. It is of a mother with a child on her back. The mothers face is a picture of anger and grief. The 14 year old girl who carved this sculpture is an illegitimate child. Her mother was shunned by the local Mauritian community as having a child out of wedlock is a big stigma. Her mother pretended the child was someone elses carrying her on her back and went about saying she was the babysitter. Lewis said that this girl got rid of her negative emotions by creating this sculpture. She is now a successful nurse in a local hospital. On our last visit Lewis insisted on giving me this sculpture. We had a hire car that day so we were able to transport it back to the boat! The sculpture now sits under the chart table and we will eventually place her in the garden at home! I plan to do some drawings of her.

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02/09/2008 | Di and Bruce
Wonderful stories, Reggio Amelio...with a Linda /Creole flavour. You guys are inspirational !
La Morne Art Workshop
31/08/2008, Mauritius

Art Workshop - La Morne
Sunday 31st August 2008
Linda was honoured to be asked by Lewis to take his class yesterday to do some drawing. 25 children aged 7 to 15 were busy chipping away at wood carvings left in the local church courtyard. As I set up easels, paper etc Lewis introduced me and translated as I communicated to the class. We used a PNG carving, Bill and myself as models. Most of them had never worked with charcoal before bit seemed to enjoy the texture of it. Bill and I also showed photos of our trip on Valiam and photos of her construction. These children were so well behaved and respectful - the easiest class I have ever had! Yet these children are so poor and don't have the things Australian children have. During the class Lewis' older students who were the musicians we met previously played music on a guitar and hand drum to create a relaxed atmosphere. After we finished drawing we danced to the music. Some of these children have a natural grace and rhythm especially 2 older girls. I had my bellydance belts with jingle and sequins with me so I tied them on. We had lots of fun at this 'workshop'.

After the class Lewis took us to the local community centre for a meeting. After talking to 2 of the paid employees there it was decided to have a workshop and exhibition there next weekend of the children's drawing. There will be wood carving and music and dance as well. Linda will be busy mounting the childrens work and creating a dvd of the original workshop!

It seems our stay in Mauritius will be a little longer than we originally planned due to our involvement with Lewis' projects. Lewis has also asked Linda to hold an exhibition of her work in Port Louis. This will be a combination of drawings and photos completed on this trip. Its all a bit scary but fun and exciting at the same time.

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Exploring Port Louis
31/08/2008, Mauritius

La Marina here in Caudan isn't like any other marina we've experienced. We feel like we are camping in a public park or we are on display to the locals and tourists who walk past in a constant stream. Now we know how animals feel being gawked at in a zoo! Most are friendly but some talk about us as if we're not there! It's funny hearing Mooloolaba pronounced in many different ways!! Most don't realize we yachties are living on our boats here. It is very convenient being able to step off and walk anywhere in town. We buy takeaway or eat at some of the cheaper restaurants around here. Sometimes we have soup and toast on board.

Linda bought herself 3 new Indian outfits at an Indian ladies dress shop. They are comfortable and feel slightly glamourous - the matching scarf/veil however doesn't seem to flow elegantly over the shoulder as it does with the Indian ladies!

The Market is a terrible place for tourists to buy souveniers. The male stallholders are very persistent and follow you around. This has completely put me off shopping there. The smaller Chinese and Indian shops in the back streets are cheaper and more fun.

Until next time!
Au revoir

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31/08/2008 | jerry
Completely put you off shopping? Doesn't sound like Linda! ;)
Hindus in Mauritius
25/08/2008

'Hindus in Mauritius'

Monday 25th August
Caudan Waterfront
Port Louis
Mauritius
Position: 20 09.62S 57 29.82E

The waterfront where we are tied up is in the middle of a tourist area so consequently a constant stream of tourists mostly local and from Reunion come strolling past. Groups of Indian people sit laughing and eating takeaway on the brick wall metres from us! We can people watch unobserved from inside the boat or from the cockpit we exchange many 'bonjours'. The restaurants and food court are very conveniently located but more expensive than Rodrigues. We intend to explore Port Louis further by foot to see the market and Chinatown. In the meantime we have hired a little car for few days - a Hyundi - smaller than any we've seen in Australia! Bill drove us all around the island which is left hand drive like Oz - a remnant of British rule.

Our impression of the natural landscape is that it is similar to New Caledonia. The countryside is dotted with dark volcanic rocks and many sugar cane fields. However it is a lot more populated (1.3million) of which 52% are Indian Hindus. As it was Sunday yesterday we saw many families out enjoying themselves dressed in beautiful coloured saris. We saw many groups in small mini buses equipped with chairs, tables etc for picnics along the southern beaches. The first day we toured the north of the island stopping for a while at the famous Cap Malhereux (Cape of Misfortune) where we could view the same islands we sailed passed from the shore. As we were sitting in the beachfront churchyard having a picnic a beautiful young girl came past selling little hand made dodo birds. (Dodo birds are now extinct and were wiped out by early settlers not because they tasted good but because they were easy to catch hence the name Dodo -Duodo meaning 'stupid' in Portuguese.) We bought some of these little dodos for the children at home. Chatting to this lovely girl we were astonished to hear her say that Indian boys prefer girls with light skin and that she thought she was unattractive because she has dark skin. We both said we thought she was beautiful and that her name 'Priti' matched her looks. She was not convinced and said Linda's skin was much prettier. We have noticed on our travels that skin whitening products are advertised everywhere and movie stars/advertisements are a full of light skinned people. Linda thinks the ladies here look exquisite whether young or old in their bright saris and dark skin.

One of the most interesting places we visited was the Graand Bassin which is a crater lake which the Hindus call 'Ganga Talao' The deity Shiva and others are worshipped here and the festival in February is the largest outside India. In 1972 water from the Ganges river was poured ceremonially into the lake. When we were there it was cool and misty with many Hindus colourfully and beautifully dressed bearing flowers, fruit and incense to offer their deities. The bright pink, orange, yellow and all colours of the rainbow were reflected in the saris and looked exquisite in the back drop of the lake. The people were collecting water, pouring it ceremoniously and dipping their feet and praying at the feet of the colourful statues of their gods. As tourists with white skin, pale hair and uninteresting clothes we stood out but were tolerated with smiles as we observed and took photos from the outer edge.

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05/09/2008 | ruth
hi linda bill fabulous reading makes me homesick for your stimulating company our friday art champers soirees byron bay girls getaway i am sure all the fascinating travellers will echo my sentiments bubbles is in fine fettle she says hi can`t say the same about pippa she looks good but heart hips cancer say otherwise we enjoy luv her off to noosa jazz sunday fathers day picasso exhib wed looking forward to that . Happy holiday in M , Keep up the good work with the kids, bye, love ruth and phil.











Touring Mauritius by car
25/08/2008, Port Louis

'Touring Mauritius by car'

One of the first places we visited on Linda's 'must do' list was a huge local market reputably the best in Mauritius at Quatre Bornes. Two hours later we managed to find our way out after buying a few cheap items of clothing including a lovely pink silk/cotton shirt for Bill for $5. (see photos!) Linda couldn't decide which beautiful Indian sari outfit to buy so will have to do this another time without a bored captain in tow.
On our tour around the island we drove past Bay du Cap where Matthew Flinders was detained for 5 years by the French for being 'British'. Not far from there we observed the cliff near La Morne where escaped slaves jumped to their death in 1833 thinking they were going to get caught when in actual fact British soldiers were on their way to tell them they were free. This island is steeped in history which makes it fascinating when looking around. We found little towns, bays and corners with ancient brick walls and piers as in near Souillac the southern most corner of Mauritius. Linda's navigation made things interesting because we would find all sorts of interesting places when we got lost. Driving oneself around is more fun than hiring a guide as we can come and go to places at a whim.

We also visited Grand Bai where it is possible for us to anchor Valiam. We drove to the yacht club and were given the 3rd degree before being admitted to this 'private club'. Lucky Linda had her Royal Belau Yacht Club membership card! All the members were out sailing and only the bar staff were there. We were hoping to get some information on the safest place to get through the reef but they knew nothing about where the entrance to the reef was. We had heard it is very shallow and many yachts touch bottom and its only possible to come in at high tide. There were no cruising yachts anchored there but the facilities are excellent - cheap meals and clean showers. We haven't decided whether we will move there yet. It would be better for Bill to dive in clean water to clean the propeller! Grand Bai is a tourist haven a bit like Noosa (QLD-Oz)or Boracay (Philippines) with restaurants and souvenier shops lining the foreshore . The bay is very pretty and much quieter than here in Port Louis.

On the way back to Port Louis we stopped in Curepipe where a huge old crater Trou aux Cerfs is the highest point. We walked up the road to see the views across the city and beyond. On the sides of the crater are different species of pine trees with a small lake at the very bottom. Trou aux Cerfs means 'hole of the stags'. Deer from Java were imported by the Dutch and used to roam around there. There are still reserves of deer now and we often see deer on the menu in restaurants.

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Taiwanese Fishing boats
25/08/2008, Port Louis

'Taiwanese fishing boats'

Last night after dinner back at Caudan, we were watching a band play in the courtyard. Next to us we met 2 Philippino fishermen who were very smartly dressed. At first we thought they were tourists! We had a lovely chat with these 2 young men who are in their 30s. We told them how much we enjoyed the Philippines on our voyage through there. They are on a 3 year contract on a Taiwanese fishing boat fishing the Indian Ocean. We saw several of these white Chinese looking fishing boats rafted up to each other in the harbour when we came in. One of the men is married with 4 children and doesn't see his family at all during the 3 years. We had heard stories of Indonesian fishermen who see their families for 1 week every 3 years and sleep in a blanket on the floor of the boat. These 2 fellows seemed to be a lot more comfortable and said they had a cabin with air conditioning and lights. (Better than us!) One of them showed us a yellow plastic ring he obtained from a dolphin that had been caught and unfortunately died. It had Australia and some numbers printed on it. He said most of the dolphins they inadvertently catch are thrown back in the sea and survive. We invited them to come and say hello next time they are walking around as they are here for 2 months.

Today we are making use of the hire car to visit a 'Jumbo' supermarket to stock up the boat. It is convenient as the car park is a few steps from where Valiam is tied up - the easiest place ever to load up! It is generally convenient here except for the shower arrangement. We have to ask for the key at the security office full of uniformed men every time we want to use the amenities. This means Linda has to be properly dressed every time she wants to go there! It's a nuisance to ask for a key when there are only 4 visiting yachts (and 2 have their own showers on board) each time. Once Linda was given the wrong key and had to walk back for the correct one and on the same evening was caught undressed in the shower room when a security man poked his head in! Linda made a formal complaint about this incident! But it is very cheap to stay here compared to most marinas (about half the cost) so we will balance out the conveniences with the inconveniences and continue to enjoy our stay here.

The internet café is a 20 minute walk away, doesn't do wireless and we're not sure it does Skype. Thank you to everyone who has sent sat messages (we get those straight away) and sent newsy emails. It's good to hear all the news and gossip from Oz.

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La Marina Port Louis
22/08/2008, Mauritius

22nd August 2008
La Marina
Caudan Waterfront
Port Louis
Mauritius


Port Louis is a 'middle sized' city of 180,000 people and we look forward to exploring more aspects of this fascinating place. Yesterday we had to tie up to a concrete wharf outside an old grey building with a small 'Customs' sign displayed outside. We decided Bill would complete the formalities whilst Linda minded Valiam. It seemed to take several hours. We got reprimanded for forgetting to hoist the yellow quarantine flag! (strange as Rodrigues where we've just come from is part of Mauritius! ) He then reappeared again to fetch a pen. Don't government officials here have enough pens? Anyway after Immigration, Customs and Coastguard formalities were completed we untied Valiam and motored around the corner to a tiny marina. Linda had phoned for assistance before our arrival but there was no-one there to help with our ropes. There was only one old tyre hanging over the concrete quay so we tied 2 more fenders on Valiam's starboard side. It was a difficult manoeuvre and unfortunately we heard a nasty crunching sound against Valiam's topside. Sure enough she now has some scrapes and scratches which we will have to touch up with turquoise paint. After checking into the marina at the security desk (it's part of Caudan Waterfront development - a government department) it was suggested we move Valiam further forward to access power and water. There was a small space between 2 yachts which looked impossible to get into. However with the help of French couple Jacques and Catherine on one of the yachts 'Serenade' which was directly in front (as well as a handsome young man from another yacht) to hold the ropes we managed to squeeze in without any further damage. Bill says it's always good to ask another yachtie who is going to be next to us for help as they don't want us to run into them!

There are a couple of touts here offering sevices for laundry and taxi rides. Raj the taxi driver was mentioned in another yachties log I had read ('Sohcahtoa') so we may engage his services at some stage. This little marina had enough space for when Jim arrived on Alii Kai Too a few hours later. Bill and another couple of guys assisted him. It would have been impossible as a singlehander to tie up here.

We are right in the middle of the city next to a pleasant developed area modeled on Capetown with the ships harbour alongside. It reminds me a little of Hobart or Southbank in Brisbane. We just have to step over the chain railing and we can promenade with all the Indian people who enjoy this recreational area. We have pasted pictures over our windows for privacy! It is very convenient as we have a mall, restaurants, museum etc here. We went under the busy road on a walkway to the city and had a brief glimpse of the conglomeration of buildings, cobbled streets, hawkers, hooting cars and mainly Indian inhabitants of Port Louis. We were hoping to find a cheap place to eat other than Macdonalds but the few snack bars we saw had nowhere really to sit except in a dark corner at a bench with a plastic stool. We ended up back at the waterfront at a tourist place. More investigation will be necessary to find non touristy eateries. The food court is convenient and only a few metres away. It's the best place for 'people watching' as the restaurants all seemed to be empty. Last night we enjoyed Indian food watching the Olympics on a giant screen. It was Gymanstics with hoops and skipping ropes. A group of Indian children played in the foreground .

More than 50% of Mauritius is made up of Hindu and some Moslem Indians. They are the descendents of 200,000 indentured labourers who worked in the cane fields in the 1800s. Before the abolition of slavery, slaves from Madagascar and the East Indies were imported. Mauritius has had a colourful past since a Dutch Admiral van Warwyck stopped on the southeast coast of Mauritius in 1598 en route to the spice and silk markets of the east. He named the island after Prince Maurice (Maurits) of Nassau. The French came in and named it Ile de France in 1715. The late 1700s could be termed the 'golden age of piracy. Pirates and corsairs under French protection used the island as a base for mercilessly plundering British vessels which traveled along the shipping route to the East Indies. In the early 1810s after several battles between the French and English, the English conquered the Mauritius as well as neighbouring Reunion. Not long after Reunion was returned to France but retained Mauritius, Rodrigues and the Seychelles. The island was again given its old Dutch name of Mauritius. The British ruled until 1968 when Mauritius became independent.

It's interesting that most people speak French or Creole here even though it was ruled by the British for so long. English is still the 'official' language and everyone learns it at school. So in actual fact most of the Mauritius people can speak both French and
English. This is great for us but we will have to brush up on our French when we go to Reunion.

There are two French yachts here. Serenade sailed from New Caledonia without stopping and arrived here in Mauritius 51 days later. Jacques and Catherine said the Australian regulations were too difficult so they kept going. Indonesia is also difficult in a different way. What a long trip! The other French boat is a huge catarmaran and they planning to sail east rather than west to Perth and around Cape Horn. These French yachties sure like their adventurous voyages!

Whilst here in Port Louis we will enjoy the convenience of stepping ashore, use of the hot showers and explore the city and local markets. We wont have to drag the laptop wrapped in plastic in the dinghy here! There is an internet place not far from the boat but someone told us wireless can be picked up from the Foodcourt.

Au revoir. Don't w... too hard!

PS forgot to write in position - will next time!
Photos - some extra in Rodrigues 'au revoir'
and new album 'Mauritius' contains some of trip and arrival

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Madame Angon's hole - Mauritius
21/08/2008, 20 08.798'S:57 28.573'E, Port Louis

Port Louis Mauritius Position: 20 08.798S 57 28.573E

7.30am

We woke this morning to a different view - ships anchored, smoke belching from a power station and interesting jagged peaked mountains forming the backdrop to the city of Port Louis. Not quite making the harbour before nightfall we enjoyed a good night's sleep just south of the green marker before the harbour entrance. We shall ask permission via radio to Port control to enter the harbour once the captain has had his second cup of coffee.

The sail to the island of Mauritius yesterday was delightful. The seas were small and Valiam glided gently through the waves with full sail up. We were treated to a display of whales spurting and frolicking in the distance. As the wind was blowing from them to us we could even smell their whaley fishy breath! The small rocky islands at the north of Mauritius looked spectacular in the afternoon sun.

As we sailed towards the gap between Coin de Mire('gunner's coin) and Ile Plate ('flat island') Linda looked up some interesting information in the guide book: "The fault running down the west side of the island Coin de Mire, le Trou de Madame Angon ('the hole of Madame Angon'), was used for target practice by the British navy during the 19th century." And sure enough as we sailed closer to the island we could see the large hole, a distinctive feature in the rock face. We had few laughs imagining who Madame Angon could have been. Doubtless a popular Port Louis lady to the seamen in those days.

We are looking forward to exploring Port Louis and its surrounds. It's a beautiful day.

Au revoir!

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Rodrigues to Mauritius (day 2)
20/08/2008, 20 09.5'S:58 43.6'E, Indian Ocean

Its 5.45am local time and our position is : 20.09.5S 58 43.6E. The wind has been inconsiderate all night by changing direction due to a few rain squalls. Bill has had to go on the foredeck already in the middle of the night to switch the jib pole over the other side. We have gybed a few times which is a nuisance. Hopefully the predicted SE 15 knot wind will kick in. We caught a weird fish last night. It was long and black like an eel with a nasty big sharp mouth and big sharp teeth. Bill threw it back in. The first time we catch a fish in 8 months and has to be a weird inedible thing! Looking forward to a full nights sleep. We only see the moon occasionally due to the overcast conditions. No stars either... Mauritius coast guard called us up on the radio when we were 150 miles out. They must have a powerful receiver. They wanted to know our position, yacht and crew details. Good to know they are expecting us!

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Rodrigues to Mauritius
19/08/2008, 20 05.8'S:61 15.8'E, Indian Ocean

Rodrigues to Mauritius Indian Ocean Position: 20 05.8S 61 15.8E 19 August 2008 7am local time

This passage is so different to the last one! We are sailing steadily downwind with 18 knots of wind being steered by Mona Lisa the autopilot. (Windvane doesn't work well with the wind straight behind) Captain Bill has rigged the boat with the jib furled out to port and the main with one reef to starboard. This seems to lessen the rolling and give us an average speed of 7.5 knots. We enjoyed watching dolphins play in Valiam's waves before sunset and the full moon made things easier to see during the night. A few rain squalls cause the wind to change direction a few times which means we sail slightly off course at times.

We left Port Mathurin, Rodrigues yesterday just before midday. It took several hours to visit immigration, customs and coastguard. We also had to wait for the coast guard to check us before leaving. Initially they wanted the 2 yachts (with 3 people) to tie up to the wharf but we asked if they could visit us in their inflatable instead. Much easier for us - so only 2 people in a little rubber boat came and did the final clearance. We will always remember Rodrigues with fondness for the friends we made there. It was sad to leave.

The day before on Sunday afternoon we went dancing again to the Le Cocotiers 'nite club'. During our previous visit we met a lovely young woman called Danny who showed us how to 'Sega' dance. It's a bit like a mix between African and eastern European polka steps. Danny and Linda exchanged phone numbers and arranged to meet again on the Sunday. We got to know Danny better that afternoon and learned she is 44 with 2 teenage daughters. (She looks much younger) Her family life is unusual as she is married to a 'Rasta man like Bob Marley' (Rastafarian) and they each have separate houses. She said her husband "doesn't dance, doesn't eat meat or drink alcohol has long knotty hair, is a musician- artist and meditates a lot" Danny is quite independent and works as a nurse in gynaecology and with babies at the local hospital. She confirmed that most women in Rodrigues own property and pass it on to their children. She has already built a separate house 'upstairs' for her daughters. Da nny's English is excellent as she said she had to study in English and often has to communicate with doctors in English. We felt we were just starting to get to know each other and felt sad that this friendship couldn't continue except by email. We really enjoyed dancing and it was good to see Bill get right into it and have fun too.

Just before we left yesterday Birgit was at the jetty with a weather report and taking photos of us. James phoned to say 'he would remember us for a long time'. The day before he presented us with a new French inner tube for my bicycle and beautiful hand crocheted table runner made by Madame Fifi. These generous people touched our hearts. James has asked Bill to find the right type of inner tube for his 1968 bicycle in Reunion or South Africa. This will be an errand Bill will enjoy as he likes poking around in bicycle shops. It is quite cool and Linda is wearing 3 layers of clothing and even knitted slippers in the cabin! All is going well out here and we hope to reach Port Louis, Mauritius tomorrow afternoon. (However the winds are predicted to lighten so it may take long

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18/11/2008 | Birgit Rudolph
Certainly you have thought that I would never be contacting you ...but see...now i am here and reading since yesterday everything about your turn after you left Rodrigues...wow, it is so interesting and I love your journal. We had lots and lots of sailors pouring in until the end of October. Visit the Rodrigues blog and you get a small impression, I will post there in small dosages , as there are so many photos and so many stories hidden, but soon I will refer to you and Virenord. I have mentioned Dieter in blog, he had trouble in a bad storm when he was on his way to South Africa....

I must leave now
but I will come back , be sure, you are not forgotten

Birgit

I will never forget the wonderful afternoon with the wonderful food on Valiam, it was fun to discuss the world...On 5th of November I had to think about that afternoon's discussion too...
Last days in Rodrigues
16/08/2008

Last days in Rodrigues
Port Mathurin
Saturday 16th August 2008

It seems 2-3 weeks is a good amount of time for us to stay in a place to get a feel for it as well as recuperate from a passage. It was our third visit to the market this morning (it's only open on Saturdays) and we confidently knew our way around - where the best tomatoes were, the baguettes and today Linda ventured into the 'poulet' hut. There is no refrigeration and in here were fresh chickens whole with feet or dismembered as well as big brown eggs. The other two huts were labeled 'boef' and 'porc'. The animals are slaughtered here too and last night we were woken by pigs squealing. (We are anchored directly opposite the market)

Yesterday was a special day in Rodrigues because it was the 'Feast of Mary' as well as the first Rodriguan priest was inaugurated. The hill where the statue of Mary is (see one of previous blogs) was covered in people for most of the morning. We were ensconced comfortably at Chez Ram enjoying lunch after a bicycle ride and could hear the music and singing. Later as the people walked down the hill in their finery we rode out to Bay L'herbe to visit James. He was pleased to see us but unfortunately Madame Fifi was out. We made arrangements to meet one more time before we left. James has been welcoming yachties for many years and we are very happy to have met him.

When we rode back into town there were many 'happy' people about as it was a holiday and some seemed to have been enjoying the local rum. Several 'bonjours' later we found ourselves at Le Cocotier the local 'nightclub/disco'. A friendly lady Danny encouraged us to go in and made sure we had a good time dancing the afternoon away. Linda danced the 'sega' twice and got quite puffed! Bill even shuffled around the floor in twirls with Linda trying to copy the locals! As we left we promised to bring 'our American friend Jim' on Sunday. These dances are fun as people of all ages go from grannies to kids. The band plays traditional Rodriguan music which Bill says is like 'pirate' music.

Today Birgit our German friend who has been living in Rodrigues for 11 years came for lunch on board Valiam as well as Jim. It was quite a long lunch with several lively discussions but we didn't solve the problems of the world even though it was dark when our guests left. Tomorrow we will check the weather and see if it is suitable to leave Monday for Port Luis, Mauritius. We will also need to clear customs and immigration on Monday even though Rodrigues is part of Mauritius. The moon is full so hopefully it will be a nice sail.

We leave Rodrigues with many happy memories. It is a special island with friendly people and a beautiful landscape that we have explored by foot, bicycle, motorbike and bus. We hope Rodrigues remains unspoilt for many years to come. It would be lovely to come back and visit one day.

Au revoir Rodrigues and merci beaucoup!


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Tres beau visage a la Rodrigues
13/08/2008, Mauritius

Photo: enjoying the warm hospitality at Chez Jeanette's

Port Mathurin
Rodrigues
13 August 2008

The nicest part about cruising is being able to stay in places for long periods of time to really get to see things at a leisurely pace and get to know the locals. Whilst waiting for our transport to Mourouk Ebony Hotel we met Dirk (Birgit, our German friend's partner) on board their motor vessel Sea Line tied up at the jetty. Birgit and Dirk have lived here in Rodrigues for 11 years after looking for a less stressful life from cold Germany. We can see why 'foreigners' would like to live here - it is so full of natural beauty, the locals are friendly and even though it is small and untouristy it has everything one could need. It is difficult for foreigners to live here permanently unless permission is granted for a suitable business which brings in money or if married to a Rodriguan. As we explore this delightful island we imagine living here ourselves. There isn't anywhere to keep a yacht safely during the cyclone safely unless perhaps lifted out of the water.

Valiam looked forlorn as we left her for the other side of the island for 2 days. Its amazing how attached we are to her now we have shared so much adventure and she's kept us safe. As we wound our way up and down the mountains we again enjoyed the windswept natural beauty towards the coast. Mourouk Ebony Hotel consists of several semidetached cottages along the hillside. Our room had a wonderful view across the old natural harbour Port Sud Est (South East) where sailing ships (including pirates) in the past used to come in. Perhaps the treasure that is missing is buried nearby! We enjoyed the view, the hot showers and pleasant walks along the coast. Bill had a go at windsurfing after a 20 year absence. He didn't do too badly. (see photo)

We are so used to everyone speaking French around us we don't even notice it any more except when someone starts a conversation and we have difficulty understanding and responding!! We always end up saying "Parlez vous Anglais?" Most younger people can speak English as they learn it at school. It's interesting that the official language for Mauritius is English yet everything is in French! (even the recorded voice on our mobile phones) We buy local sim cards for our mobile phones wherever we are as this is always the cheapest way to phone home. (once you work out the instructions!!)

Half and hour before we were due to check out of the hotel and Bill was still out windsurfing, Birgit and Jim showed up on the beach. Birgit had arranged a local driver to take Jim on a tour of the island. They invited us to join them at Chez Jeanette's for lunch. Again we enjoyed a leisurely 3 hour lunch at Chez Jeanette's and because this was our second visit we were greeted like old friends (French kisses on both cheeks and lots of joking). The food again was fantastic and all cooked on an open fire on a traditional stove in an outdoor kitchen. We took more photos of Jeanette and her delightful staff in the garden wearing Rodriguan straw hats. (see photos) Each eating establishment in Rodrigues have their own recipe for rum punch. Jeanette's is made with lemon juice and white rum - delicious!! We are inspired to make some of our own!!

As Birgit had planned to take Jim to the Tortoise park where we've already been Muslin the driver took us to the bus stop in the town of Mont Lubin to get back to Port Mathurin. It's cold up there! I was glad to have my friend Robyn's handwoven shawl to keep warm. We waited for a bus with 100's of school children. They thoughtfully kept the seat vacant at the front for us elderly tourists!! The bus ride down the mountain involved a lot of screeching of brakes around hairpin bends but didn't take long too to get back. We were pleased to be back on board Valiam again and missed her even after just one night. We especially missed our soft comfy bed. (the beds in the hotel were hard)

There is nothing nicer than being at anchor in a peaceful place gazing out to sea at any time of the day but especially nice when the sun dips down. Valiam's interior is familiar and comforting with all our souveniers, photos and object d'art we have collected wince we left Australia. The wind has picked up as we can hear it howling and whistling through the rigging. It's a good 20 knots - ideal for sailing to Port Louis. (pronounced almost like 'wiss' with the 'L' being swallowed.... The 's' is not pronounced in Rodrigues.....) There are still no other yachts here. We wonder how many will be crossing to South Africa next month.

Today is internet day. We will take 2 computers to the library as the website takes a long time to download!

Enjoy the photos! (click on the little camera then Rodrigues, Mauritius)

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When the Ship came in - Rodrigues
13/08/2008, Mauritius


When the ship came in - Port Mathurin
Rodrigues
9 August 2008

"Crackle crackle .....Port Mathurin.......cinq heure....." went the radio at 4.45am this morning. Sure enough out in the darkness a ship's lights could be seen rounding the small island just off Port Mathurin. Jim had to move his yacht Alii Kai Too yesterday close to the reef and to us to make room for the ship. The ship "Mauritius Pride" causes great excitement in this town. The little fishing boats full of fisherman were hovering around talking excitedly. The two tug boats were moving to the harbour entrance all spic and span after a month of polishing by 4 full time men. People were on the shore waving, cheering and clapping. The usually empty quiet wharf is a hive of activity today. It is very early Sunday morning. A small group of passengers waved to us and took photos. We could see several containers, cars and a new fire engine on board the ship. Further up form the wharf we could hear cows mooing and pigs squealing along the shore being moved off trucks ready to be slaughtered. The Mauritius Pride's captain maneuvered her into the tiny harbour passing the two of us yachts within metres. Perhaps the two yacht captains should partake in petite dejeuner with the ship's captain?!!

For a whole 24 hours the wharf was a hive of activity. Many people are gainfully employed from this town 'when the ship comes'. Many don't have much employment the rest of the month. Actually the Mauritius Pride had been in 'dry dock' for 8 weeks this time so the employment and produce arriving was most welcome. Containers, vehicles etc were unloaded then more containers , crates of fresh vegetables and cages of animals (cows, pigs, goats, chickens) were loaded. We witnessed the pigs waiting to be loaded in on the grassy land nearby fighting, biting and snorting. One of the workers kicked and picked one up by the tail that had strayed. They wont enjoy their ride in the ship's dark hold.... At 7am on Monday morning the ship moved from the wharf with the two tug boats hovering on standby. Again it passed us by within metres with a couple of loud 'toots'.

Later we met one of the tug employees - (there are about 8 employed full time on the 2 tugs.) who was keen for us to move back tied up to them. Perhaps they get a bit bored polishing, reading the paper etc every day waiting another month for 'the ship to come'.

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Still the only 2 yachts at Rodrigues
07/08/2008, Mauritius

7th August 2008

This photo was taken on the way back from one of our motorbike rides. The statue of Mary is on the side of a hill to the south of Port Mathurin and it looks like she is looking after us!! Valiam and Alii Kai Too are still the only 2 yachts here in this small protected harbour. Most Rodriguans are Catholic and in some way this photo reminds us of the town of Maasin in the Philippines where a large statue of Mary looked over the town.
We expect we will get ready to leave for Port Luis some time next week. It will take a couple of days to get there. We hope to spend some time at La Reunion after Mauritius as we have heard the landscape is spectacular. There we will wait for the right weather to head for South Africa.
In the meantime we will make the most of Rodrigues. Today we may cycle down to the next bay where we saw a little pizza place (Bay L'Anglais) and Linda wants to look at some local embroidery there.
au revoir!

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Tortoises and caves - Rodrigues
07/08/2008, Mauritius

6 August 2008
Tortoises and caves

Taking the motorbike out again today we found ourselves near Petite Butt (small derriere - we made lots of jokes about this... as there are mostly grande butts around here!). Linda was keen to see the Tortoise sanctuary so we did the tourist thing and went on a tour once we got there. We had to put on hard hats to explore the caves first. Our tour guide spoke mostly in French but for the '2 Australians' he translated in English. Everyone else was from La Reunion of Mauritius. They don't get many Aussies in these parts! The caves were magical but the Tortoise sanctuary was of even more interest to Linda.

In 1691 there were 280,000 giant tortoises roaming the island of Rodrigues. Within 40 years there were none. They were easy to transport as fresh meat by male sailors. It's difficult to believe these beautiful slow trusting creatures were treated like this. The same thing happened to the Solitaire (very similar to the Dodo) a large bird that couldn't fly. In an attempt to have tortoises on Rodrigues again tortoises from the Seychelles and Madagascar have been introduced. At present 160 giant tortoises are roaming the small valley near the caves on the south coast. They are of different ages and sizes with numbers painted on their backs. The first babies born in the wild are being carefully looked after in the 'tortoise nursery'. One can adopt one and give it a name. A painting in the little Museum near the sanctuary depicts what Rodrigues would have looked like 300 years ago with dark shelled tortoises dotted in the landscape amongst the volcanic rocks and small round bushes. The Rodriguans are also replanting bushes native to the island and trying to eradicate introduced species such as lantana. (Also a pest in Oz)

After having a lovely time with the tortoises we took the coast road towards Merouk. The scenery was stunning (see photos). Little houses dotted on the edge of cliffs with fabulous views with cows and goats munching grass nearby. Houses aren't expensive here. A house like Chez Jeanette's is worth about $40,000. We could live like kings here! What a shame it's so far from Oz!!!

We saw lots of octopuses 'ourite' (octopi?) drying on sticks as well as many little wooden fishing boats anchored in the bay. People here live as they have done for 100 years. Hopefully tourism wont impact on this amazing island. We did however succumb to the luxury of a tourist establishment and have booked a night in the Marouk Ebony Hotel for one day next week. It has cottages with HOT SHOWERS perched on a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of a bay called Port de Sud with its fringing reef.

Meanwhile life in Port Mathurin has its charms. We look forward to the Saturday market with its fresh produce and lively colour of people from the whole island. The ship that visits bi monthly the 'Mauritius Pride will be here in a couple of days. More excitement! We are wondering if we have to move our yachts to make room as it is such a tiny harbour. Alii Kai Too and Valiam are still the only yachts here. We received an email from Bea and Di from Cocos saying they have been alone for several weeks with no yachts coming in. It may be a quiet year in the Indian Ocean this year with not many yachts traveling through. Some do however choose to go north via Chagos, Seychelles and Madagascar before heading to South Africa (as Natalie and Rob on Wilhelm are - they say there is only 3 yachts at Chagos presently)

Sometime next week we will start preparing for the short hop to Port Luis, Mauritius - about a 2 day sail from here. Port Luis will be busy and noisy in comparison to here with the city's population at 180,000 whilst the whole of Rodrigues is only 36,000. Rodrigues is certainly unique and we feel privileged to be here. It is wonderful to be able to enjoy such places 'off the beaten track' by being able to visit in our own yacht.

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