Day 6 – Turtles, sugar and tornado…

This time we were headig up North toward the Botanical Garden, in Pamplemousses. It was very enjoyable, we came across all different kind of animal and vegetal species. There were of course gigantic earth turtles, the biggest one we saw was 120 Kg, absolutely massive, there deers, I learned later there were introduced by the British, when they owned the island. We saw Baobabs, lotus flowers, gigantic water lilies, the largest one was 3 meters wide and other masterpieces of mother nature. I also learned that this botanical garden was a former Governor property where the house was still standing, like the way it was, back in those days. Later it became the president house, the First Mauritian President is buried in the botanical garden.

The second attraction was just a mile away form the botanical garden and we drove all the way there. It was called «Sugar World Mauritius». The entry was a little expensive for a foreigner, about $20 entrance but it was completely worth it! I learned absolutely eveything about the sugar cane industry in Mauritius. I can’t tell you every single detail but long story short, during the second part of the XIX century, the world demand for sugar exploded. As a result, the British offered to all the Indians from the British Empire to come to Mauritius to develop the sugar cane industry. Large Human labour was demanded at industrial scale, therefore, 500,000 indians came to Mauritius and were granted residence. They were also offered bigger commission for the large quatities of sugar cane they would brought to the factories. During the 2 World Wars, Mauritius was the main Europe sugar supplier and today Europe stands for 85% of its exports. Today, the transformation from row material to final product is quite simple: the sugar cane is brought the factory by big trucks, it is then crushed by massive wheeled machines and hot water is poured on top. The «clean» juice is then heated and 80% of its weight is streamed and we obtain a syrup, the juice is then cleaned by adding whitewash and the none-sugared elements stay at the bottom of the reservoire, the scum produced is used as a natural fertilizer in the fields to help grow new sugar cane. The syrop is heated in heating reservoires where sugar crystals are added, we then obtain the heated-mass made of sugar crystals and thick syrop, the crytalization is carried on in big spinning machines and finally it is dried and crushed so that tiny pieces of sugar are coming out. Then it is exported all over the world. What was amazing was to see sugar being used as consumption product, fertilizater, alcohol, biofuel, combustible to produce electricity. I didn’t realize before that sugar cane stood for a big strategic stake for the country. But now, the problem is that there lower demand of sugar cane in the North Hemisphere as now Europe produces more and more beetroot sugar and this is also used to produced bio-fuel. That’s the reason why Mauritius sugar cane price is dropping, first from the lack of demad and second because of the competition dumpping. Mauritius tomorrow’s stake will be about finding new countries ready to purchase their sugar and also find other industries to sustain themselves.

As we came out of the factory, the weather turned really bad, but still we wanted to visit «Bras d’Eau» National Park. To be honest, there was not much to visit, just a big forest with no clear paths, it would only worth going there when you are passing by but no more… At 15:30 we got a radio alert telling the cyclone upgraded from Class 1 to Class 2, Class 1 is when all sailing activities are stopped, Class 2 is when they stop all sailing activities and they close the schools. In spite of the heavy rain, we didn’t want to go all the way down to Bois Cheri and we decided we would go to Grand Baie beach instead. We swam for a moment as many people were bathing too. It was quite surprising that the rain drops warmed the water’s temperature, it was quite welcome!

Then the weather got real worse, strong winds, heavy storm. There was no way we could go anywhere by foot or by car, so we took refuge in a nearby hotel. We quickly understood we would be waiting there for a long time, as the storm intensified. So we decided to pay an hour massage at the hotel Spa. The service was very good but we were soaking in oil. The storm went away and we finally went home, safe and unhurt)

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