Saturday, August 11, 2007

Port Louis

It’s true. I’ve found out over the last couple of weeks while I’ve been by myself that I’m really not very interesting. I grew weary of my own company so decided I should venture away from Flic en Flac and explore the capital of Mauritius, Port Louis, which is about 20 kms from here.

So, with my trusty Lonely Planet book in hand I boarded a bus and found out the bus system here is quite remarkable, and a trip that takes about 1 hour cost only 75 cents! There is a conductor on each bus who issues tickets and ushers people on and off the bus in a very orderly manner. His role also includes being a “co-pilot” for the wanna be Indy 500 race car/bus driver who challenges all other buses, cars and motorbikes to play the favored game of “chicken” on the narrow roads.

Port Louis is a bustling city of about 180,000 people. My main destination was the Air Madagascar office at the Caudan Waterfront as I wanted to book my ticket back to Tana (more about that in a minute…). The book said to get off at the last stop which would be Victoria Station, and since there were no signs to suggest otherwise, and it was the last stop – I got off. With a confident stride in my step, I tried to appear as tall as I think I am and never give the impression I might be lost. However, in a matter of minutes I could recite our family creed of, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m making good time”. I was all set to chicken out and hail a cab, but stopped, looked at the map again, and realized I must have been let off at Immigration Station and so changed direction and thankfully came across the Waterfront. Giving the Lonely Planet the benefit of the doubt, I assume things changed since the book was printed….

The Caudan Waterfront is a beautiful development that reminded me a lot of Granville Island with wonderful shops, lots of restaurants, ships in the harbour and a vibrant atmosphere. I got my ticket booked, and spent a few hours enjoying the change of scenery; so much so, that I returned later in the week for another visit. If Roger and I return, there is much more of the city that I’d like to explore, but didn’t think it was a good idea to do it on my own as the modern buildings you see here are not reflective of the rest of the city. In fact, a Mauritian I talked to lamented that the Waterfront could be in any city and didn’t emulate the island’s architecture.

Returning on the bus the first time was a challenge too, as the station is like a Rubik’s cube of buses, with no signs to tell you where your bus will be. So, after a few minutes of darting through a maze of buses belching diesel fumes, a conductor pointed me to the right spot and I was all set.

As I mentioned, I’m heading to Tana as Roger will be driving there on August 14th, and will pick me up and take me back to camp (hooray - I'm sure I was just a day away from snapping my crayons!!).
Not sure what will happen next – but as with everything else that we do – we’ll see what happens and then go from there! Stay tuned!

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