Laura Rivière and her family live here in Pointe d’Esny on the east coast of Mauritius next to one of the most beautiful lagoons. After many years of hard work and a bit of luck along the way, they moved to ”the sunny side of the street” and one of the larger beach villas. Just a few minutes by boat from her home is the Ile Aux Aigrette’s nature reserve; the island where her dear dodo birds once lived. They have been revived in Laura’s shop Mauritian Handicraft brilliantly colored in pink, turquoise, blue, yellow and red. Laura could not remember anything she had not painted dodo birds on; tiles, glass, lanterns, chargers and refrigerator magnets. It was first when she began printing dodo birds on fabric that her business took off. Her dodo bird textiles and wallpaper could now be found in several leading interior design shops around the world.
No, Laura is not lying when she describes the sea. The water has this color and the coral can be seen when she stands on the balcony outside of her workroom; a round room in the family’s home with windows facing in each direction.
Nothing compares to a walk on the beach at sunrise on Hotel Shandrani’s wild beach, Laura thought. Most of the time, however, the sun was more wide-awake than she was. Laura spent her first date with her loved one here. She remembered it as if it were yesterday, although it had been 35 years ago when she was only 19 years old. Would he show himself to be as poetic as his letters displayed? He seemed to be an elegant and balanced person to Laura…
Anthuriums – the heartshaped flowers – the flowers of love. We choose a flower of each different colour and shade like the rainbow, and like the people of Mauritius. It will be a large bouquet. For some anthuriums would be a lifelong love.
He was leader and president of the Republic of Maroons on the mountain Le Morne during the latter part of the 18th century. Maroon was the common name for a runaway slave. The ruling class usually scorned the extravagance of giving individual names to the maroons. The slave colony at Le Morne was what every white man called ‘hell at a few hundred meters,’ where the runaways lived, the remorseless ones, those wouldn’t hesitate to kill. And yet those stone-faced creatures, halfway between men and beasts, were those who survived!
In an earlier period of his life in another country, he had had the same status as any other free man. He was devoted to improving his knowledge to literature. He was the only one who could read and write there at the top of the mountain Le Morne. The population there varied for the most part between one hundred and two hundred persons, depending on how many had been captured. Today there were up to one hundred and fifty maroons gathered at the temple that was a half-formed cave with a sacred open section. In the middle was a pole that he leaned against. FRATERNITÉ – BROTHERHOOD was carved along the pole. It was a word with which he had grown up in another time and place. All maroons understood its meaning and the obligations it imposed. This evening he had preached over and over again that it was meaningless to sharpen arrows and swords to use against the white man.
It was he who had proclaimed them to be “the republic of maroons at Le Morne.” He wasn’t convinced that he himself would receive recognition of that status and a life of freedom. But perhaps his children and grandchildren would. Not all of the inhabitants of Le Morne understood what he meant. He could hardly comprehend it himself as he walked to his home, a cave at the top of the mountain, to warn his family to be sparing with the manioc, the roots that they ate morning, midday and evening. He had hoped he wouldn’t have to tell his wife that they might be forced to butcher rats once more to satisfy their hunger. Lush green foliage from the sisal bushes on the mountain slope stood outside his cave. His wife sat and wove baskets of sisal leaves. It was the same material used for the baskets in which his comrades carried sugar cane. Those baskets hung against bare backs and scraped against deeply sores infected left by floggings. Some of his comrades had tired of such treatment and had fled. Several now lived up on the mountain.
At least fifty completed baskets awaited outside his cave. Some former slaves had been coming once a month to pick up the baskets for sale on the streets of Port Louis. In exchange the family would receive fish, meat, assorted fabrics and, most important of all, information about what was happening on the island. There had been no sign of those petty merchants for three months. Slave hunters patrolled the foot of the mountain almost every day. Everyone knew that the maroons were hiding here, but no one was certain of their numbers. No slave hunter dared go up the mountain; the terrain was too difficult for the uninitiated.
In this new country he was given the unwanted name ‘Sans Souci,’ which means ‘Carefree.’ The man who had re-christened him had said he no longer had the right to his memories. The two would meet again and the memory of their first meeting would become very clear. Once again Sans Souci would stand eye-to-eye with Satan himself!