This is a look into our Travel Journal.
Day 4: Sunday 27 November 2011.
I am woken up by the soft singing of Norah Jones (Greg had plugged his iPod into the rooms iPod speakers. How cool? Long Beach have thought of everything.) My camera is on charge and we need to get ready soon. It’s a cloudy day with the sun playing hide and seek. The sun eventually won and the clouds gave up. We headed off for a continental breakfast.
We were so busy chatting that we didn’t realize the time. It was 9am and our tour guide was fetching us at that time. We rushed back to room 106, got our things and met our lovely tour guide Sandya and the driver Pravin.They are both so warm, with twinkling eyes, a brilliant sense of humour and incredible knowledge. We drove along the same roads we’d arrived on, but this time we got to experience it during the day. We had missed so much at night. We got to see the islands colours, the tropical lushness, the swaying sugar cane, the volcanic rocks and the many different temples. Hindu, Tamil (the most colourful ones), Mosques and Christian/Catholic churches and so on.
We traveled along to the South Coast and arrived at the Le Vanille Crocodile Farm and Madagascan Reserve.
We observed Nile crocodiles, Iguanas and other lizards, wild boars, monkeys, small tortoises, fish, bats and then we entered the Madagascan insect world. I have never seen such a magnificent, well looked after collection in my life. I saw insects I only thought existed in story books/movies. Granted they were pinned to boards, but still.
Dr. Andre Peyrieras, a French Entomologist, started living in Madagascar from the 1950s. He is the world authority on Madagascan insects and through all his efforts over the years, this collection is now available for viewing.
|Greg and Sandya|
|How cool is this bug? Looks like an African Mask|
It was then on to the one thing I was dying to see. Giant Tortoises.
I have never seen anything like it. There they were, giant pre-historic creatures crunching carrots and eating leaves; not shy at all and certainly not reclusive into the shelled homes. I was very surprised to find out that their shells are really sensitive. They have all their nerve endings in their shells. You can’t scratch their shells with your nails. It hurts them. You have to be gentle in stroking them or lightly tickling with the pads of your fingers. They actually like it and extend their long leathery necks out for you to do the same there. They look like ET to me and it takes 80-100 years for them to become giant. The eldest of the group is 96 years old. After seeing the nursery of babies that will outlive us (quite a thought) we bought a few things at the shop and then hopped back into the car. A smooch for the person who invented air conditioning.
We drove through busy streets again, saw the old paint peeled buildings and fruit vendors. We came across a coconut vendor. 25 Rupees (a lot cheaper than the normal 100 Rupees) later and we had bought a fresh coconut. He chopped it with a machete and made a small hole for 2 straws to be dunked in. Greg and I drank the fresh coconut juice on the dusty streets. The juice was warm and even a little fizzy (it wasn’t off…I checked) and it was really bland with a slight coconut after taste. We couldn’t get over how much juice was inside. We finally slurped up the remains and gave it back to the man who cut it up and scooped our the flesh. He put it in a small plastic packet as a take away. Again, it’s bland with a slight coconut taste and it’s fleshy. I like it. Greg, not so much.
I love Vanilla Tea. It’s the worst kept secret. I particularly love Bois Cheri Vanilla Tea, which happens to come from Mauritius. It’s been on my Bucket List that I have wanted to visit the tea plantation. Today I got to scratch that off the list. Amazing.
Bois (Drink) Cheri (Darling/Sweetheart) is situated beautifully. There is a Volcanic crater (a lake now) with tea plants everywhere, a museum, the factory and Bois Cheri restaurant and shop. The factory was closed, being a Sunday, but we saw the museum and watched a video. Fascinating. We then entered the BC restaurant. It has big glass windows that spread out panoramically overlooking the mountains, ocean and tea plants.
They brought us ice tea and palm heart salad to start. Sandya, our tour guide, told us that Palm Heart salad is known as Millionaire Salad. It takes 6-7 years for plants to grow before they can cut it open, remove the “heart” and eat it. I actually felt bad, but it was so delicious.
|Palm Heart “Millionaire” Salad
Lunch was vanilla chicken and rice. YUM. Dessert was vanilla ice cream for Greg and tea sorbet for me. The manager arrived with 2 tilted tot glasses and a bottle of home made vanilla rum and told us we had to drink the glasses straight. Greg finished my glass…it’s delicious, but strong. WOW.
We headed over to the tea room after lunch. Cups lay out with the different Bois Cheri teas. I tried the coconut – subtle and lovely and then had a cup of my beloved vanilla overlooking the plantation. I can’t describe the feelings.
We then went to the shop and bought…ahem… 12 boxes of Vanilla. Not ALL for me, but close enough.
We got back into the car and headed for Grand Bassin and the Hindu Temples. What a spiritual, beautiful place. It’s the Hindu lake, complete with some water from the Indian Ganges. There were statues of the goddesses and Shiva. The main statue of Shiva stood 180 feet. It was created in 2006 and made out of concrete. It’s the second biggest statue of Shiva in the world and the details were amazing… from his clothes looking like real cloth, to the pores in his skin. Quite humbling to experience.
|Shiva stands 180 ft tall|
We drove back, chatting, learning, listening, looking and when we reached the resort we gave a hearty good bye to the best tour guide ever. It is honestly the best travel excursion I have ever done. We got into our swim wear and headed for a late afternoon walk on the beach. Greg showed me the 2 coves he’d found when running back from Wake boarding and we chilled out. Greg read and I wrote.
We had booked at the Italian Restaurant, Sapori. The food, yet again, was delicious and we enjoyed a hearty bowl of pasta. We had a drink afterwards at The Shore Bar, watched the band perform but my eyelids were heavy and it was off to Zzzzz Land.
Our final day tomorrow …