After a 30 hour trek beginning Thursday evening, we arrived on Saturday afternoon in Rodrigues–the small Mauritiuan island of ~30,000 people where Nick’s grandfather Hans lives. We were greeted by his grandfather and uncle, who drove us to Hans’ beautiful home on the top of the mountain. We got settled in and enjoyed a lovely welcome dinner with Nick’s family–his grandfather, sister in from London, and aunt, uncle, and cousins from Frankfurt.
The next day was slated to be a recovery day by the pool to soak up the sun. Unfortunately I soaked in a little too much despite copious amounts of sunscreen. It is hard to take things like sun in moderation after being deprived all winter long! Rodrigues is quite mountainous and rocky; there are beaches, however, most are not as big as other tropical islands. There is little man-made intervention to cultivate beaches where they are not naturally occurring, as tourism has not yet taken off like it has in Mauritius. With a view like ours, swimming in the pool is not too shabby!
In the afternoon, we headed into the village to watch a ceremony commemorating Mauritius’s 49th anniversary of independence from Britain. Though Mauritius was most recently controlled by Britain, France also had control at one point. Mauritian people mostly speak French and Creole–a localized spinoff of French. To my own surprise, I spoke more French on this trip than I spoke in my four years living in Montreal! Also to my surprise, I got by! I am actually inspired to continue practicing, as I realize its usefulness for travel more and more (I hear you dad, you told me so).
The next morning we headed to the island’s tortoise sanctuary. All of the native tortoises on Rodrigues became extinct when humans first arrived and began developing their habitats and enjoying turtle soup a little too much. The sanctuary was created to reintroduce the two native species of tortoise to Rodrigues and is now home to over 600 turtles!
They are very gentle and enjoy humans rubbing their head and neck quite a lot. The oldest tortoise was 80 years old and it only seemed fitting that Nick’s grandfather get a picture given his upcoming 80th birthday later in the week.
We enjoyed a nice lunch at the restaurant on-site and set out on a scenic drive to a new bridge used for zip line with the end goal of finding a place to swim in the ocean.
We quickly learned that car mishaps are far more enjoyable in Rodrigues than in Canada! We nearly got the car stuck on a “backroad” composed of two concrete tracks and were forced against our will to spend a couple minutes waiting on this hillside with an ok view.
Next, we got a flat tire on the way to the beach and were again “forced” to go for a group swim in the ocean next to the road as the tire was switched out. A horrible life!
On Tuesday we set out early for Coco island–not far off the coast of Rodrigues. The island has been protected as a bird sanctuary for reasons I’m not sure of, as the tour was in French ha. We enjoyed a sunny day on the white sandy beach and in the warm Indian Ocean nonetheless. I still owe Hans (Nick’s Opa) a bottle of champagne for my last place finish in our game of beach bocce ball.
We enjoyed a nice breakfast in town on Wednesday morning at a small cafe owned by a German expat. Afterwards, we explored the local market, which sells mostly produce, meat, fish, and souvenirs. We caught some rays by the pool in the afternoon before heading to Zumba! Nicks Aunt Susan had taken the class the week prior with a local friend of Hans’ and insisted we tried. I was even able to drag Nick along, as we had listened to our favourite podcast (How I Built This) on the inception of Zumba a few weeks ago. The class was packed full of locals and seeing Nick shake his butt on the big stage to Latin music was priceless. We enjoyed a nice dinner out in the evening; Nick and I both learned to never order crab when you are very hungry–too much work.
Thursday was spent preparing for Hans’ 80th birthday bash. I must say, I could have gotten used to doing more chores for my parents growing up if I could do them outside in a bikini, and some even in the pool!
We had around 35 guests in total arrive for a great night of eating, drinking, and dancing. There was an amazing live band that began the night with jazz and transitioned into classic country later on. All in all, the party was a wild success and I certainly hope be partying that hard at 80!
For our final day in Rodrigues, we chose Trou D’argent, the islands most beautiful beach. It was as picturesque as promised and offered sizeable waves for us to play in. The bay is far less sheltered than other beaches in Rodrigues, with no coral reef protecting it, and we quickly realized the strength of the current when we put our head up from snorkelling and had drifted 40m. We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch on the beach before heading back to the house to pack for the airport.
I loved Rodrigues for its stunning beauty that is relatively untouched by tourism. I can count on 2 hands the number of tourists we saw from western countries–there were a number of tourists from Mauritius and Reunion. In Rodrigues, people are certainly operating on island time–shops closed by 4, and always on Sundays. Most of all the island was made special by our stay at Hans’ beautiful local home with great company!