One of the most remote of the Mascarene Islands, some 350 miles beyond Mauritius, is Africa’s most easterly point. A tiny nut shaped gem sat in pristine emerald and turquoise sea, Rodrigues is often quoted as being the Cinderella of Mauritius. The island is a well hidden gem and only royalty tread the green grass and white sandy beaches there …. if not for the local goats and fisherman. A 3hr flight from Mauritius reaches you there on board of an Air Mauritius ATR plane, the only having access to the island!
True to any island in the Mascarenes, as you now are accustomed to Mauritius by now, you can expect spectacular clear shallow lagoons, blaring sun which shines really bright in a non polluted sky. As you land on the tiny airport and pass the Customs counter with a greeting, you are just on your own. Quietness is all you can hear here. The island is barely populated, and high buildings are not to be seen. Only a wide azure sky, and lush tropical green and all the hues of turquoise you can fathom.
Anse aux Anglais is one of the island’s livelier locations. Yet, as sleeping dogs lie in the shade, chickens peck speculatively in the dust and pretty girls at the thresholds of their open, airy homes ‘ case creoles’ with that air of a Sunday afternoon. At the beach, a few fragile fishing boats with a single sail, languidly drift across the lagoon. While on the sand you see lines of splayed out freshly fished octopuses drying out in the sun. A big local delicacy ‘ ourite sec,’ dry octopus, is exported to Mauritius, where the islanders relish this leathery dry creature resuscitating its plump tenderness by boiling it and turning it into delicious salads, stews, ‘vindayes’ and curries.
Small B&Bs and lodges welcome travellers who venture out to see this tiny forgotten island in the Indian Ocean. In the warm evening air, condensation glistened reassuringly on bottles of cold Phoenix beer are the most welcomed as their caps are magically levered off for a sip of the beverage while watching the sun go down in its fiery orange down the immuable horizon of the lagoon.
This is ‘that moment’ when you feel you are alive!
Just while dinner is cooking on the simple stove, evokes the promise of a good hearty Rodriguan meal : octopus stew, black lentils and rice. Lights flickers then dims in the distance, fans wind lazily to a halt and for a moment, silence becomes deafening. Electricity cut. Unfazed, the host quickly lights up a white hurricane (here, cyclone) white candle. And all gets back to normal. Then, the lights come on. Marie-Louise extinguishes the candles as fat raindrops start to land on the corrugated iron roof making a rhythmic sound. You are safe and sound, and about to eat the most delicious meal cooked in the most honest way with the freshest produce you can think of, and you will watch a trillion of stars before going to sleep tonight.
Welcome to Rodrigues! Check out my paintings on Rodrigues here