Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Good Times in Mauritius

The local tourism groups in Port Louis, Mauritius have been great. They provided lists of codes for free Internet in the immediate area, arranged a great World ARC tour and threw a fantastic awards dinner and party on the jetty. There was a Blessing of the Fleet on our day of departure. I am not sure who welcomes groups in our home towns, but these island people everywhere could teach us how to do it! They are always so pleased to have a fleet of yachts visit.

All of the boats are alongside the quays in Caudan Basin and we all have "dressed" our yachts so it looks quite spectacular to the people on land. Many people come along to take photos and chat. We have seen people from many different countries enjoying our presence.

We had another great day of touring while on Mauritius. We visited Chateau de Labourdonnais, an old colonial style sugar plantation, the L'Adventure de Sucre Museum with rum tasting at both locations. I am not a rum drinker unless it is in a frou-frou drink so a shot or two of straight up rum midday is not for me. I dumped mine into some mango juice! And we toured the Mauritius National Botanical Garden.

The Château de Labourdonnais was owned by Christian Wiehe, an influential figure of nineteenth century Mauritius. The construction started in 1856 and three years later, the Wiehe family moved into one of the most beautiful colonial houses of the island.

Inspired by Italian neo-classical architecture, the residence stretches out on two levels. The house was built mainly from teak wood and has a double colonnaded gallery. The layout of the house follows that of the private mansions of the nineteenth century, with a central hallway leading on one side to the dining room and on the other to the main lounge. The bedrooms are situated upstairs. I loved the open verandas on both levels.

After visiting the château, we strolled through the lush gardens and old orchards, displaying the horticultural wealth of the region. We saw hundred-year-old mango trees, spice trees such as nutmeg and clove, as well as several exotic fruit trees such as the pomme jacot, the sapote, the jamalac and the Kythira plum.

The large orchards are used for fruit cultivation such as papayas, mangoes, guavas or passion fruit that are used in the manufacture of the Labourdonnais product range preserving the traditional flavors without the use of any colorings or artificial flavors.

Mango trees were in bloom.
Also, during the walk in the gardens, we came across giant Aldabra tortoises grazing peacefully. Somehow they ended up with three resident ducks and one chicken who share the pen with the tortoises! It was a cute scene. And watching the tortoises move was quite interesting; they sort of lumber a long, one slow moving limb at a time.

Beautiful old floors throughout the house.

The Rhumerie des Mascareignes, the rum distillery on the property, was built in 2006. This is a new industry on the domain which exemplifies the diversification of the sugarcane industry. The distillery operates during the sugarcane harvest so we did not see it in action.

Our guide pointing out lychees on the tree.

In the distillery museum, we learned about the old techniques of agricultural rum and the production of this treasured spirit. Two different rum labels, Rhumeur and La Bourdonnais, produced by the distillery were available at the tasting bar and the boutique at the château.

And, of course, before you leave the tour you end up in the gift shop – or in this case, the Boutique! I don’t think they made much money off our group from the sale of rum, but a lot was tasted!

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