CHILLpill GUESTHOUSE | truly merits a detour…
By the most beautiful lagoon on Mauritius, where the sea is more brilliantly turquoise than elsewhere on the island, right at the water’s edge is CHILLpill – a gem in a class of its own. B&B, eight rooms, two bungalows, lounge and dining room in two buildings flanking an infinity pool. The place simply oozes freshness. All rooms come with sea-view, most are right on the water.
A five minute walk takes you to Mahebourg – a typical Mauritian port town. It was in these waters that the Islands history began …
A taxi will take you to the airport in just 10 minutes. Stay for three to four nights at the beginning or end of your Mauritian visit. Beyond the vicinity to Mahebourg and Blue Bay (protected Marine Park, perfect for snorkeling) 15 minutes in a car, or why not the local bus, north along the coastal route will take you to regions breathtakingly beautiful.
Or do what I do, stay week in and week out and enjoy. I’ll be sitting at the water’s edge writing – watching the fishermen in their colourful pirogues going past. This is my Mauritius at its best. We might meet each other on the terrace for a drink – in Sweden that’s at 6 pm – a custom I’ve brought along to Mauritius – it´s just before sunset – usually very beautiful.
For more info; www.chillpillmauritius.com
A few weeks ago I was asked by a Swedish journalist for places I’d recommend a tourist to visit while on Mauritius. I didn’t have to think too hard about it. Here is what I find to be the primaries…. the somewhat extraordinary….. what they have in common is that they’ll touch your heart in different ways. The rest you can read up on in tourist guides.
The tastiest salt of the Earth – La Fleur de Sel
Between the mountain Tamarin and the ocean salt is still made as it was a hundred years ago – nothing artificial here – everything is natural. If you are visiting during the harvest season (August to December) don’t miss seeing this. Harvesting begins early in the morning at 5 o’clock and ends at 10 every day providing it doesn’t rain. Some of the women, yes most workers are female, balances three baskets of salt on their heads – totalling 60 kgs. Some of them have been doing this work for thirty years!
In the afternoons, two to three hours before sunset, they harvest what I dare say is the tastiest salt you’ll ever try – La Fleur de Sel. Using a special rake to gather the topmost layer of the saltpan before it starts to crystallize.
Visit La Route de Sel and their shop, open Monday thru Saturday 8.30 – 17.00
Champ de Mars
Should we travel another hundred years back in time we’ll arrive at Champ de Mars – one of the oldest racetracks in the world. You’ll find the track at the capital Port Louis, picturesquely placed with a common stretch of street running directly alongside the turf.
In 1810 the French and the English fought a war for sovereignty of Ile de France, as Mauritius was called at the time. The English won and proceeded to rule, but the dispute between the two persisted. To put an end to this the Governor initiated the founding of a racetrack, believing that a common interest would calm the feelings. This eventually happened and there are few countries where people of different religions live in such harmony as on Mauritius. The season starts end of March and lasts till December and has four major races every year. Meets are usually held on Saturdays, but in high season also on Sundays. There are 150 horses in training and the turf measures 1298 metres and has a slight incline at the finish. The distances ridden varies between 1000 to 2400 metres. Although the English founded the track the metric system and weights have been used since 1981. Attendance varies but the record number is supposed to be 25000.
Now how to get for a day to this idyllic and somewhat worn track?
The very best way is to visit Crown Lodge and its charismatic owner Jacques Ritter. He’ll makes sure that you are picked up – and delivered – to your hotel. He’ll takes you to his box, just 50 metres from the finish line. Here hors – d’oeuvres, sparkling wine or beer are served throughout the day.
You’re also given tips and are included in the joint pool for Pick Six, where you decide what sum you want to wager. 100 roupies is the minimum, i.e. some 3 Euro. No waiting in line for the totalizer as there is one in the box. 5 roupies is the lowest stake in the gamble.
Some of the track´s celebrities also visit the Crown Lodge, and you will also be invited to the paddock and we were also invited to the umpires. Certain times you might be allowed to ride in the umpire car that follows the horses.
After a day at the races it feels right to spend a day at sea.
One Love – yes, that’s the name of the speedboats. It’ll only be a few minutes before you understand the choice of name. One Love is precisely what you will feel this day when the boats head for the most beautiful lagoon on Mauritius east coast. Luncheon is served on an islet – away from mass tourism. Swimming and snorkeling in the best waters of the island. This is also a trip thru history with visits on several small islands that was of great importance during the battle of Vieux Grand Port.
One Love = True Love is a feeling you will carry with you from this day – and I promise that it will last. All inclusive all day.
Let’s keep stimulating our senses and visit;
Maison Eureka, an old Creole house in Moka whose owner Jacques de Maroussem has a superb taste for the good things in life. Stroll around the house and enjoy the beautiful interior, try to imagine what a dinner party or afternoon tea could have been like in “the good old days”. Enjoy the greenery of the park and the silence at the waterfall. End your visit with a lunch on the verandah – an authentic curry – the best on the island – made in the old kitchen of Eureka – made a la minute.
Time for a little exercise – the view is splendid. It’s you – nature and silence just as the sun rises above the mountain – history comes very close to us the further up we go…
Sometimes it’s well worth rising early. The Le Morne Mountain – and its history – with the slaves hiding in caves along the slopes of the mountain not daring to believe that slavery was abolished when people were sent to tell them, but instead choosing to throw themselves from the crest. Le Morne is nowadays a World Heritage Trust Site.
Climb the mountain with Yan de Maroussem. You will be met at 05.50 for a three hour trek up the mountain. The view is simply magnificent. When you are done, take the opportunity to visit Le Morne Village and Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund (about 5 minutes by car) and learn about the slavery and the beginning of a ethnic group, namely the Creoles of Mauritius.
Contact and booking; www.yanature.com
They were called collies – the great experiment – the trade of humans primarily from India of great endurance and strength, barred from expressing any opinion of their own. The Indians dreams of the new country extended far beyond the daily bread – promises had been made about gold to be found behind boulders. Their initial encounter upon docking at Aapravasi Ghat – the Immigration Office of Port Louis – was sixteen ponderous steps. Having reached the top one there was a momentary, brief – very brief sense of freedom before they were presented their first set of work clothing, free of charge, a hat and a pair of overalls indistinguishable from those worn by prisoners.
The Indians became the soul of the Plantations, the driving force of the whole sugar industry. Despite being treated inhumanly they have chosen to remain on Mauritius for generation upon generation, and nowadays number in excess of 60% of the population.
Aapravasi Ghat will reopen in April 2014, following a long period of restauration. The sixteen steps are still there – the history remains – it is solidly etched – step by step.
Opening hours; Monday thru Friday 10 – 17
Saturday 10 -14
Mauritius has an amazingly beautiful nature, lovely beaches and an abundance of historical landmarks. Take a peek at www.discovermauritiusisland.com You’ll get valuable tips about how to best profit from the nature that “God created on Mauritius before he made Heaven”.