Archive for the ‘tourism’ Category

Bucket List transport to Kruger National Park
May 15, 2013

You are looking at your “Bucket List” of things to do before you die and one sentence in particular is highlighted in fluorescent yellow: “Travel to South Africa to take a safari in the Kruger National Park.”

Actually, your dreams are only a flight away to South Africa on a reliable airline to Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport and if you are a wily traveller, booking a sturdy 4×4 vehicle in advance off the Internet will give you the advantage of getting great savings on cheap car hire, where you can find the perfect vehicle to safely get you to and around the Kruger Park.

Once through airport customs and immigration, a friendly Rental Agent will be there to meet and greet you, making your arrival to South Africa a welcome one.

After sleeping over in Johannesburg you will set off on the first stage of your safari to Kruger, world-famous for its abundantly diverse wildlife. The Park’s magnificent scenery and unique wilderness with the “Big Five”; Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard and Rhino and array of other animals, makes it one of the few remaining areas where one feels as if they are in the true Africa of old, away from the noise of smoggy cities and the endless hum of traffic. Instead there is the peace of the bush, the sound of the African fish-eagle’s lament echoing out across the Olifants River and the rat-tap-tap of the tok-tok beetle as it trundles through the fallen leaves of the mopane trees.

There are so many places where you can stay in the Kruger Park and surrounding areas, with a range of accommodation from low budget to luxury game lodges. These can be booked through the South African Department of Tourism at the same time that you book your cheap car hire.

It is said that the Kruger National Park was the prototype of wildlife sanctuaries in Africa, offering a wildlife experience that ranks as one of the best in the entire continent. Established in 1898 to protect the animals in the Lowveld of South Africa, the park comprises nearly two million hectares and is unrivalled in its vast diversity of flora and fauna, with an estimate of some 336 trees, 114 reptiles, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 507 birds and 147 mammals.

It is also interesting to note that man has been part of the environment for centuries, from the bushman’s paintings that are still visible in rocky outcrops and caves to the fascinating archaeological sites of Masorini and Thulamela. Giving evidence of cultures before ours that lived and hunted in the vast tracts of land, and part of the proud conservation of the Kruger National Park.

Africa’s mysterious magic has always been its unique wildlife and the habitats in which they can be found. For you as the visitor, the African bush provides remarkably stirring experiences with only a few other African Game Parks as diverse as that of the Kruger National Park.

Reluctantly you will leave the Park on your homeward journey, dropping your 4×4 vehicle back at the airport where you will promise yourself a return to Africa where the old saying goes “the dust of Africa never leaves the soles of your feet.”

Susan Cook-Jahme©

Bucket List Transport to Kruger National Park
May 15, 2013

You are looking at your “Bucket List” of things to do before you die and one sentence in particular is highlighted in fluorescent yellow: “Travel to South Africa to take a safari in the Kruger National Park.”
Actually, your dreams are only a flight away to South Africa on a reliable airline to Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport and if you are a wily traveller, booking a sturdy 4×4 vehicle in advance off the Internet will give you the advantage of getting great savings on cheap car hire, where you can find the perfect vehicle to safely get you to and around the Kruger Park.

Once through airport customs and immigration, a friendly Rental Agent will be there to meet and greet you, making your arrival to South Africa a welcome one.

After sleeping over in Johannesburg you will set off on the first stage of your safari to Kruger, world-famous for its abundantly diverse wildlife. The Park’s magnificent scenery and unique wilderness with the “Big Five”; Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard and Rhino and array of other animals, makes it one of the few remaining areas where one feels as if they are in the true Africa of old, away from the noise of smoggy cities and the endless hum of traffic. Instead there is the peace of the bush, the sound of the African fish-eagle’s lament echoing out across the Olifants River and the rat-tap-tap of the tok-tok beetle as it trundles through the fallen leaves of the mopane trees.

There are so many places where you can stay in the Kruger Park and surrounding areas, with a range of accommodation from low budget to luxury game lodges. These can be booked through the South African Department of Tourism at the same time that you book your cheap car hire.

It is said that the Kruger National Park was the prototype of wildlife sanctuaries in Africa, offering a wildlife experience that ranks as one of the best in the entire continent. Established in 1898 to protect the animals in the Lowveld of South Africa, the park comprises nearly two million hectares and is unrivalled in its vast diversity of flora and fauna, with an estimate of some 336 trees, 114 reptiles, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 507 birds and 147 mammals.

It is also interesting to note that man has been part of the environment for centuries, from the bushman’s paintings that are still visible in rocky outcrops and caves to the fascinating archaeological sites of Masorini and Thulamela. Giving evidence of cultures before ours that lived and hunted in the vast tracts of land, and part of the proud conservation of the Kruger National Park.

Africa’s mysterious magic has always been its unique wildlife and the habitats in which they can be found. For you as the visitor, the African bush provides remarkably stirring experiences with only a few other African Game Parks as diverse as that of the Kruger National Park.

Reluctantly you will leave the Park on your homeward journey, dropping your 4×4 vehicle back at the airport where you will promise yourself a return to Africa where the old saying goes “the dust of Africa never leaves the soles of your feet.”
Susan Cook-Jahme©

The Beautiful Island of Mauritius, Part 5
May 7, 2013

The food of Mauritius is varied, as there are so many different people of ethnic decadency from varied places around the world, with several distinctive styles of cooking. Most typically Mauritian is Creole cuisine. Boiled rice forms the basis of most Creole dishes, to this is added curry; meat or fish cooked with turmeric, aniseed, hot spices, onions and oil, and served with finely chopped tomatoes, hot chillies, and green mango. Another traditional savoury dish is a tasty green vegetable soup called bredes. Vegetables that are usually served with savoury dishes are patisson, or squash, boiled watercress and chou-chou, (a type of marrow.) Several restaurants on the island serve Creole food on their menu, so do give it a try.
Naturally, seafood is the speciality of Mauritian dishes; lobsters and shrimps top most of the menus, but also delicious is the local freshwater prawn, the camaron. I enjoy it in “sauce rouge”, which I recommend every person dining out when on the island, should eat at least once. Then there is a variety of Indian Ocean fish which are served, capitaine, gueule pave, damenerry, sacre chien, squid, urchins and tasty little oysters. From June to September venison are a speciality and some restaurants offer hare and wild boar. A delicious salad is Coeur de palmiste, (the heart of a seven-year old palm tree.) Try the beef that is brought into the island from the large island of Madagascar, the fillet in particular is tender and full of flavour. There is an abundant supply of exotic fruit, small, sweet pineapples, lychees, paw-paws, Chinese guavas, wild raspberries, mangoes, water-melons, custard-apples, bananas, and coconuts are some of the fresh fruit on offer. The bakeries sell French baguettes and brightly iced patisseries for the person with a sweet tooth. Wine from France, South Africa and many other countries can be found in a corner store, as well as the local rum. Of course there is always on offer the good old British cup of tea and delicious local coffee that is roasted in the way of the French.
The main recreational sport on the island is deep-sea fishing, with the main season falling in from October to March, but there is no closed season and a good catch can be had throughout the year. Fish caught are marlin, barracuda, tuna, wahoo, yellow fin and jack fish. Big game-fishing can be organised on line or at any large hotel group on the island. Full fishing gear is provided, along with an experienced crew. You can also find fishermen who helm their own pirogues, (the local fishing boats) who will take you out fishing for the day, which is what I prefer to do when visiting. For those of you who prefer not to fish, there are other things to do such as, golf, sailing, bowling, surfing, water skiing, swimming and sunbathing, and  one of the island’s other most important sports, skin diving. Skin diving was first started by the Sino-Mauritians in the 1940’s and now there is a very popular scuba-club which was founded by Australian, English and Mauritian divers. Some of the best underwater areas are Morne Brabant Reef, Black River, Whale Rock and Horseshoe Spit. As there are dozens of known wrecks around the coast dating back to 1615, it is a “must do” for anyone who enjoys this sport.
Don’t miss out on horse-racingat the Champ de Mars. The season is from May to October with the main meets being held at the end of May and August. Mauritius “Derby Day” is the Maiden Plate which is run in late August. Other popular sports are soccer, lawn tennis, sailing with regattas from July through to October, basketball, volleyball and athletics.
Nightclubs are situated all over the island, but the best are in the big-resort hotels, with cabaret, local d-j’s, dinner dancing and so forth. Unique to the Indian Ocean Island, is the sega, a dance accompanied by calypso-style singing, the musicians using drums, maracas and triangles, to accompany the dance. The sega first evolved by African slaves and is now part of Creole folk law. Performances are often organised and held at the big hotels, as is gambling which is also a huge attraction on the island. Casinos are situated in most of the large hotel groups.
For the shop-a-holics, the best places for souvenirs are the handicraft shops in Port Louis, but you can find them in the hotel shops at higher prices, which I try to avoid. Hire a small car or a taxi for the day and visit Rose Hill, Curepipe and the covered market in Port Louis. For a true Mauritian souvenir, consider a beautifully woven basket, applique pictures made from sugar cane leaves, woodcarvings of the do-do, finely embroidered tablecloths and napkins and an assortment of wall hangings and tapestries. Chinese tailors can be found in Port Louis and they run up beautiful shirts and suits in no time at all. Clothing shops stock a range of beach wear and chic French fashions which are reasonable in price.
The currency unit used on the island is the Mauritian Rupee, divided into 100 cents and most international banks can be found on the island.
Plaisance Airport is 27 miles from Port Louis. If staying at a hotel, they provide shuttles.
Hiring of vehicles can be done online or through various touring companies who have representatives on call at the airport and resorts. The roads are tarmac and good. Signs are in English.
Entry requirements are the usual passport and visas, (check if you need a visa online.) Visitors travelling through or from a yellow fever/cholera infected area must produce a yellow fever inoculation certificate.

©Susan Cook-Jahme, Freelance Writer

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Beautiful Island of Mauritius, Part 4
May 5, 2013

Accommodation in Mauritius ranges from large resort hotels, small family hotels, guest houses, holiday rental apartments, bungalows and backpackers. With some exceptions, most of them have beautiful white coral sand beaches at their front doorsteps, making it easy for you to get out there and “catch the sun”, or enjoy the many water-sporting activities available. It all really comes down to your preference and what you have budgeted. The larger hotels offer all the modern amenities such as dining, dancing, and gambling and so on, whereas there are others that are less formal and laid back.

The larger resort hotels, Le Morne Brabant and Le Meridien are situated next door to each other on a peninsula which juts out into the sea at the foot of the breath taking Morne Mountain. They are located on one of the island’s most beautiful beaches and share various amenities: golf, horse-riding, sailing, aqua-diving, etc.

La Pirogue is found further up the beach at Flic en Flac, and is one of my preferred places to stay because of its charm. The chalets are thatched and shaped to resemble the sails of the local fishing boats, (pirogues) and set around a three story building comprising a large sun lounge, barbecue and dance terrace, restaurant and bar facilities. All the chalets are a short walk from the beach.

Troux aux Biches has a hotel bearing the same name, set in amidst a coconut grove by a lovely lagoon, and has beach bungalows, each of which has 3 to 4 bedrooms. (Very popular with visitors.) The amenities include hairdressing salons, shops, a bank, post office, casino, golf, tennis, sailing, water-skiing and many other sporting facilities.

In Grand Baie is the Merville, a complex of a large 4 storey hotel and delightful stone cottages set in a plantation of casuarina trees by a lovely stretch of beach. Amenities on offer are: a beautiful swimming pool and sauna. Another hotel in the area is Club Mediterranee, situated in a superb position at Grand Baie and provides all the usual CM amenities.

Along the coast, just above Belle Mare is St. Geran, its cool sun-lit central building leading out to a series of terraced rooms that are laid out in an ox-bow shape around lush tropical gardens rolling down to the beach. Amenities here: a fabulous swimming pool, huge dance-floor, barbecue area and casino.

Another favourite of mine is the Touessrok Hotel on the east coast, built on an islet in the middle of a crystal clear lagoon and reached by a wooden bridge. The bungalows are set upon tiers. The Ille au Cerfs can be reached by pirogue and has a beach with dazzling white sands. Set amongst casuarina trees is a boat house and snack bar for the hotel’s guests. Amenities are: golf and various water sports.

Further south, near the Plaisance Airport is Le Chaland with terraced bungalows and apartment blocks around a thatched central building. Sugar plantations hug the one side of the hotel and a long curved beach stretches out in the front of the hotel. Amenities here: horse-riding, tennis, sailing etc.

More intimate and small are:

Hotel Constance Belle Mare situated at the Belle Mare Plage with comfy bungalows nestles on the beach, close to the sea. Amenities are: a swimming pool, tennis and boating etc.

Auberge Miko at Grand Baie. Amenities there: swimming pool and a good beach.

On the shores of Tamarin Bay is the Tamarin, set in amongst lush forest, with terraced rooms and bungalows. Amenities are: a pool and tennis court.

At Black River is the La Mivoie which has chalets by the sea and specialises in deep sea fishing.

Etoile de Mer is found at Trou aux Biches and between here and Grand Baie is Casuarina Village which has Arabian-style cottages and is a short walk from the sea.

Flic en Flac you can stay at Villas Caroline.

Informal Small family Hotels:

At Cap Malhereux on the northern tip of the island you will find Kuxville, which offers 6 bungalows, each with 4 to 8 beds, 3 apartments, each with 2 or 3 beds. There you prepare your own food and groceries are brought to your door every morning by a vendor on a motor bike. Amenities: dive-school and kite centre.

For Bungalow and Apartments one of the best Internet Booking platforms I have discovered is “Home and Away”.

©Susan Cook-Jahme, Freelance Writer

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 Mauritius Flag

Beautiful Island of Mauritius, Part 4
May 5, 2013

Accommodation in Mauritius ranges from large resort hotels, small family hotels, guest houses, holiday rental apartments, bungalows and backpackers. With some exceptions, most of them have beautiful white coral sand beaches at their front doorsteps, making it easy for you to get out there and “catch the sun”, or enjoy the many water-sporting activities available. It all really comes down to your preference and what you have budgeted. The larger hotels offer all the modern amenities such as dining, dancing, and gambling and so on, whereas there are others that are less formal and laid back.      
The larger resort hotels, Le Morne Brabant and Le Meridien are situated next door to each other on a peninsula which juts out into the sea at the foot of the breath taking Morne Mountain. They are located on one of the island’s most beautiful beaches and share various amenities: golf, horse-riding, sailing, aqua-diving, etc.
La Pirogue is found further up the beach at Flic en Flac, and is one of my preferred places to stay because of its charm. The chalets are thatched and shaped to resemble the sails of the local fishing boats, (pirogues) and set around a three story building comprising a large sun lounge, barbecue and dance terrace, restaurant and bar facilities. All the chalets are a short walk from the beach.
Troux aux Biches has a hotel bearing the same name, set in amidst a coconut grove by a lovely lagoon, and has beach bungalows, each of which has 3 to 4 bedrooms. (Very popular with visitors.) The amenities include hairdressing salons, shops, a bank, post office, casino, golf, tennis, sailing, water-skiing and many other sporting facilities.
In Grand Baie is the Merville, a complex of a large 4 storey hotel and delightful stone cottages set in a plantation of casuarina trees by a lovely stretch of beach. Amenities on offer are: a beautiful swimming pool and sauna. Another hotel in the area is Club Mediterranee, situated in a superb position at Grand Baie and provides all the usual CM amenities.
Along the coast, just above Belle Mare is St. Geran, its cool sun-lit central building leading out to a series of terraced rooms that are laid out in an ox-bow shape around lush tropical gardens rolling down to the beach. Amenities here: a fabulous swimming pool, huge dance-floor, barbecue area and casino.
Another favourite of mine is the Touessrok Hotelon the east coast, built on an islet in the middle of a crystal clear lagoon and reached by a wooden bridge. The bungalows are set upon tiers. The Ille au Cerfs can be reached by pirogue and has a beach with dazzling white sands. Set amongst casuarina trees is a boat house and snack bar for the hotel’s guests. Amenities are: golf and various water sports.
Further south, near the Plaisance Airport is Le Chaland with terraced bungalows and apartment blocks around a thatched central building. Sugar plantations hug the one side of the hotel and a long curved beach stretches out in the front of the hotel. Amenities here: horse-riding, tennis, sailing etc.
More intimate and small are:
Hotel Constance Belle Mare situated at the Belle Mare Plage with comfy bungalows nestles on the beach, close to the sea. Amenities are: a swimming pool, tennis and boating etc.
Auberge Miko at Grand Baie. Amenities there: swimming pool and a good beach.
On the shores of Tamarin Bay is the Tamarin, set in amongst lush forest, with terraced rooms and bungalows. Amenities are: a pool and tennis court.
At Black River is the La Mivoie which has chalets by the sea and specialises in deep sea fishing.
Etoile de Mer is found at Trou aux Biches and between here and Grand Baie is Casuarina Village which has Arabian-style cottages and is a short walk from the sea.
Flic en Flac you can stay at Villas Caroline.
Informal Small family Hotels:
At Cap Malhereux on the northern tip of the island you will find Kuxville, which offers 6 bungalows, each with 4 to 8 beds, 3 apartments, each with 2 or 3 beds. There you prepare your own food and groceries are brought to your door every morning by a vendor on a motor bike. Amenities: dive-school and kite centre.
For Bungalow and Apartments one of the best Internet Booking platforms I have discovered is “Home and Away”.
©Susan Cook-Jahme, Freelance Writer
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The Beautiful Island of Mauritius, (Part 2)
May 3, 2013

Mauritius is the result of a powerful volcanic eruption; flowing masses of basalt solidified and formed three chains of mountains running from northeast to southwest. Other masses of lava were flung farther afield to form solitary peaks, which are now beautiful mountains dominating the landscape of the island and are thickly forested with tropical green jungles. They rise up from the surrounding flat lands planted with fields of yellow-green sugar cane, their jagged indigo peaks touching the powder blue dome of the skies.
What I enjoy the most about these peaks that guard the island silently are their descriptive names, – Les Trois Mamelles, (the three breasts) Le Pouce, (the thumb) Le Morne (the mournful) and Lion Mountain. Nestled comfortably amidst these mountains rises a central plateau to some 1900ft. lying in the west and southeast are a series of gorges that divide the plateau. The main ones comprising fast flowing rivers and spectacular waterfalls are Grand River in the northwest and the Black River in the southwest.
The coastal areas of the island reveal rocky coves and bays, some fringed with white talcum-like sandy beaches, protected by a coral reef that wraps itself protectively around the entire island and in some places rising to 40ft above sea level. Languishing between the shore and the reef is the ocean that plays colours of turquoise, indigo and royal blue, dappled by silver sun stars playing on its tranquil surface.
Some two hundred years ago, Mauritius was home to a massive variety of birds, some of which, like the dodo had lost the power of flight and were easily shot for “the pot” by early sea-farers and eventually became extinct. A small number of the surviving species live in the indigenous forests, now National Reserves.
Animals that were imported in the years of the East India Spice Traders are the Indian hare and Mina bird, the Macaque Monkey from Malaysia and the Javanese deer. There are also 4 different kinds of snake that are harmless, and fifteen different types of lizards.
Sadly in the early years of discovery the island’s natural primeval forests were plundered for their natural hardwoods, but it is still cloaked in lush vegetation that is kept green all year round with rain showers. Tall palms and casuarinas, (locally called filaos) that cling to the sea’s edge and in the hills are eucalyptus and conifers. Villages are shaded by badamier, banyan, camphor and baobab trees with roads lined with avenues of flame trees, (originally from Madagascar.) All year round one is delighted by the flowering blooms of jacaranda, cassia, oleander, bougainvillea, hibiscus and a variety of other trees and shrubs.
Sugar cane covers two-fifths of the land, earning 93% of the revenue on the island, whilst the other crops, coffee, tea, tobacco and rice provide a living for a majority of the Mauritians.
There is an estimated population of 1,286 million living on the island, of which the majority are Indians of the Hindu faith, Creoles, (people of mixed European and African blood), Chinese traders,  and the minority who are Franco and Anglo Mauritian who descend from families who have lived on the island for over 200 years. The official business language is English, but the native language of Europeans and Creoles id French, or lingua franca, a Creole patois. Educated Indians and those in the tourism business are bi-lingual in French and English, as well as their native Hindi or Urdu.
Mauritius has a maritime climatewhich is cooled by the southeast Trade Winds from April to October. Between December to May, (the summer) temperatures reach the upper 80’s and the humidity is high with the hottest months being December to February. In the months of July to August, (winter) temperatures reach the upper 70’s.
It rains throughout the year, the wettest months being January to March and this is known as the Season of Cyclones and one visit I made to the island was in February where I sat out a cyclone in the Touessrok Hotelclose to the Ille aux Cerfs which was an awesome and frightening experience, to put it mildly! Ever since then I have been prone to visit Mauritius in the months of April to May.
©Susan Cook-Jahme, Freelance Writer

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The Beautiful Island of Mauritius
May 2, 2013

In 1973, when I first visited the beautiful Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius it was relatively untouched by tourism and yet to be discovered by tourists in their masses. In those days, its main claims to fame were the extinct bird, the Dodo, and the postage stamp known as the “Blue Mountain.”
Now the island is a prime destination for seekers of white coral sands, blue skies, tranquillity and fantastic hospitality from the hosts and staff in the many hotels set in tropical gardens that are shaded by coconut palms, bending in the balmy tropical breeze that softly sighs in from its surrounding turquoise seas.
Mauritius lies 1200 off the coast of East Africa and the people of the island do not consider themselves “African”. Populated mostly with people of Indian origin, it bears no resemblance to India. The main language is French and civilised in the way of the French, it owes no allegiance to France. Also with 150 years of British administration and influence, its association with the United Kingdom is not massive. However, with all the different backgrounds and cultural influences, there has merged a culture that has created a unique and vibrant people, who, without a doubt, make them the greatest tourism attraction to the island. They are happy, colourful, friendly and make every person visiting feel very special.
Add the squeaky, soft, sandy beaches lapped by aquamarine coral lagoon waters, the Black Mountains, tropical tangled forests casting their shade over timber walled cottages, bubbling mountain streams and rolling fields of sugar cane, it is a place of 700 square miles of Eden.
It is thought that in the first 1000 years AD, the Arab and Malay peoples were the first to visit the island, which was uninhabited until the 16th century. The first European to moor off the island and visit was the Portuguese Captain Pedro Mascarenhasand named the group of islands, Reunion, Rodrigues and Mauritius the “Mascareignes.” Then in 1598 a party of Dutchmen landed on the island and named it after their ruler at the time, Prince Maurice of Nassau. For forty years it became the port of call for the Dutch, English and French trading ships, until the Dutch took formal possession in 1638. Four years later the Dutch navigator, Tasman, set sail on his most important voyage that led to the discovery of Australia.
The Dutch introduced sugar cane to the island and the sambar deer from Java in the East Indies. They also hunted out and exterminated the dodo and other indigenous birds and animals unique to the island. Their settlement lasted until 1715 and was then claimed by the French who renamed it Ile de France. In the early years of administration by the French East India Company, several fortifications were built, (one of which can be seen at the entrance of Grand Port.) They also shipped in African slaves. In 1735 a great governor was appointed, Mahe de Labourdonnais, who, during 11 years of office transformed the colony. The planting of sugar cane was encouraged; the first sugar factory was opened in Pamplemousses in 1743 and cotton, indigo, cloves, nutmeg and spices were grown. He had the “marrons” (escaped African slaves) rounded up and captured as they had been terrorising the French settlers, creating peace on the plantations. In Port Louis he established a naval base that conducted forays that harassed the English merchant ships sailing on their way to India on the Spice Route, confiscating their precious cargos of spice. But, the rise of the French East India Company was short lived, – ruined by financial setbacks and a succession of wars, they were forced to hand the island over to the rule of France and under the rule of the French crown, it flourished as a naval station, figuring prominently in sea strategy during the War of American Independence, the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War. In the Napoleonic Wars it became “Le Nid de Corsairs” which was a base for privateers who preyed on the East English Indiamen.
In 1810, the British Royal Navy were fed up with this stone in their shoe and decided to retaliate by sending off four frigates. They were thoroughly defeated in Grand Port, off Mahebourg. The wrecks of two frigates, the Magicienne and the Sirius are known to be lying 60 to 90 feet down and can be reached by scuba diving. The Battle of Grand Port was the only notable French naval victory against the English and is proudly inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
A few months after this embarrassment to the English, an invasion was launched by them from the island of Rodrigues, 250 miles away. The island’s defences collapsed and the French capitulated and four years later Ille de France was ceded to Britain. It is interesting to note that under the terms of surrender to the English under the treaty of Paris, the French way of life, religion, language, laws and customs were safeguarded. This settlement is still recognised with gratitude by the French descendants of Mauritius.
The economy thrived under British administration and the island prospered. The first major social change came with the abolition of slavery in 1833. Freed, the African and Creole workers refused to labour in the sugar plantations and indentured labour was recruited from India. Once strengthened, the labour force helped towards the expansion of the sugar industry and helped speed sugar consignments to Port Louis by building roads and bridges to the port.
Life continued peacefully for more than 100 years and Mauritius was known as the “Star and Key of the Indian Ocean”. During the Age of Steam the island became an important coaling station on the passage to India. When the Suez Canalwas opened, the island’s strategic commercial importance was lost until the closure of the Suez during WW2 when it had a brief revival. Prosperity continued through the first half of the 20th century, interrupted by the two Great Wars in which many Mauritians served with the British army.
In 1968, after 154 years of British rule Mauritius gained Independence.

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Have Camper Van, must Travel, Queenstown to Dunedin, (House of Pain)
December 10, 2012

 “Let’s go see Milford Sound”, I said to Graham as I fried eggs and bacon,
“OK” He agreed, “And then we will back-track down to the southern most tip of the island, Bluff, before heading our way up to Dunedinon the Otago Peninsula for the night.”
Full tummies, and happy that we had chosen the camper-van alternative to travel, we packed up and headed down Route 6 over the Mataura River, which runs through Gore, (known as the “Brown Trout Capital of the World.”) After a coffee and stretching our legs, we drove on to Lumsden, turning right onto Route 94, through Mossburnarriving at the town of Te Anau on the shores of Lake Te Anau over the Downs, to Cascade Creek, through the Homer Tunnel in the Southern Alps and bursting out the exit to the sight of Milford Sound.
Buses from Queenstown and Te Anau were disgorging tourists, some fortunate enough to be including a Red Boat Cruise around the Sound, and after that a scenic plane flight back to Queenstown.
We were perfectly happy to sit in the front of our home on wheels and share a bag of crisps, watching all the busy people brandishing their cameras, and take in what is described as the “Eighth Natural Wonder of the World,” one of the most incredible views we had ever seen in our lives. Water from the Mitre Peak tumbled and crashed down, disrupting the slumbering blue waters below.
“Wow!” We both exclaimed, crunching our salt and vinegar crisps. Unable to verbalise how we felt about the place.
We would have liked to stay the night there, but as we still had so much of the island to see, and limited time in which to do it, we returned the way we had travelled. Driving past Te Anau onto Manapouri, then a connecting road (53) to Clifden, where we viewed the historic suspension bridge, spanning the Waiaiu River which was built in 1899.
Soon we arrived in Tuatapereand connected onto Route 1 which leads through Invercargilland down to Bluffoverlooking the Foveaux Strait onto the distant view of the port village of Halfmoon Bay on Stewart Island.
“Time for lunch!”, Graham announced as we pulled up at the southern most point of New Zealand.
I clambered into the back and started preparing tuna sandwiches, while Graham took a stroll.
Taking our sarnies to a nearby rock that looked as if it had two bottom sized dents conveniently carved in its surface, we sat and looked out at the sea.
A dwarf sea-gull ambled up to us and told us off for not sharing our tuna with him, “Cheeky! Go catch your own fish!” I shooed him away.
“Didn’t work Babe,” Graham laughed, “he’s summoned his mates…”
Obviously well meaning people who travel to that part of the island throw scraps for the persistent little birds, and as we were not sharing ours, they were fed up.
“Ewww, makes me think of Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds”, let’s leave before we are devoured!”
Graham raised an eyebrow, “No, let’s leave before your imagination overtakes both of us…”
Tracking around the outskirts of Invercargill, we travelled on the unsealed connecting road (46) to Fortrose, connecting to road (28) to Tokanui, Papatowai, on through the beautiful Catlins Forest Park to Kaka Point.
“Mmmm, wonder who named this place?” I mused.
“Maybe someone who needed to kaka?” Graham suggested. I gave him a friendly punch on his arm.
Balculutha was our next port of call, where we turned right onto Route1, through the towns of Clarksville, Milton and Waihola, over the Taeri River to the University city of Dunedin on the central-eastern coast of Otago. This is the second largest city in South Island after Christchurch.
It is also called “The House of Pain,” due to Carisbrook Stadium, where rugby, New Zealand’s most popular sport is played.
As it was growing dark, we made our way through the city along the twisty road clinging to the Otago Peninsula overlooking Macandrew, Company and Broad Bays, to our over night camp Portobello Village Tourist Park in Herewek Street, Portobello.
The park was close to a spit that had the Dunedin Aquarium perched at the end, so we walked there to have a look around, but as it was late, the place was closed.
Not phased, we turned around and returned to our camper, ready to settle down for the night.
“Beer?”
I heard the clink of bottles and fizz of the cap as Graham opened our evening sun-downer.

If you enjoy my writing, purchase my books and EBooks:

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Don’t Pay the Ferry Man…
February 20, 2012

For the best part of the last six weeks Internet here in Morrumbala has been intermittent.
I have realized just how frustrating it is without this luxury when living in the back of beyond in a third world country.
Without Internet, there is no knowledge of what is happening in the lives of beloved family and friends. One cannot catch up and read current affairs, world events and news. There is no ability to carry out scheduled work loads, uploads, downloads or phone conferences via applications such as Skype, Google or other IM’s.
Checking on bank balances, making transfers, booking tickets for bus, rail or air does not happen.
Without modern technology, upon which we are fully dependent, we have allowed ourselves to become totally castrated when it fails.
There is no longer a post office in most villages.
Even if there was, they are not able to function without Internet.
No more is there the luxury of purchasing a stamp, licking it and placing it on the top right hand corner, (as straight as you can) of an envelope that has your hand written letter specially scribed and securely sealed inside, the address of the intended destination written in the middle with at least a one inch surrounding border.
On the back of the envelope, your return address, in case of no delivery.
Or if you needed a message to get somewhere in a hurry, the logical thing to do was to send a telegram.
It had to be carefully written as you had to pay for each word:
“Arriving Wednesday Stop Please meet me airport Stop 18.30 Stop Susan”
A specially trained telegraph operator would decipher your words into code and send it off with a series of dots and dashes.
Miraculously your message would arrive at its destination within 24 to 48 hours!
Two cyclones have been whizzing around the Mozambique Channel.
Buffeting the Island of Madagascar and the coastal towns of Mozambique. Bringing with it torrential rain storms that have besieged Morrumbala on and off since early December last year.
This interferes with cell phone connections and often we have been without the ability to make calls or send text messages.
Again, isolating us from the outside world.
There are not many land lines here in Mozambique. The twenty year civil war put paid to any developments like that. So the country relies on cell phone companies to put in place huge masts along the main roads that link major towns and cities. But, they are not immune to extreme weather or vandalism.
It is so exciting when you hear the “beep” of your mobile coming to life again when connections recommence.
When that happens, you immediately send off quick text messages to people as soon as possible in case everything shuts down again, letting them know you are thinking of them and still alive!
I could go on about the lack of electricity and television, but then I’d never get this Blog out to you.
(I have to transfer it to a memory stick and take it down to Graham’s office where they are lucky enough to have a weak Internet link. The inclination to do this is not huge, as it’s raining cats and dogs today.)
A few weeks ago Graham and I took the two hour trip to the ShireRiver as he had to talk to the ferry man about his ferry which was stuck in huge banks of floating reeds and was not working. OLAM needed to get a truck load of supplies to one of the farmers on the other side of the river and the truck had been stuck for a couple of days on the river bank.
When we got there, we realized that the ferry man was not going to do anything about clearing the reeds unless he was bribed into doing so.
I watched Graham approach the operator and then settle down on a bench outside a hut under the shade of a large old mango tree.
It looked as if he would be there a long time negotiating and cajoling, so I threw the strap of my camera over my shoulder and went in search of photo opportunities.
Soon a group of children swarmed around me and followed me, stopping every time I stopped and keeping a respectful distance as I snapped away.
After a while I tired of taking pictures of people being shipped across the river in huge dug-out canoes with their goods that ranged from chickens, luggage bundles, bicycles and even motor-bikes.
Focusing on a child wearing flip-flops many sizes too big, I felt a tug on my skirt.
Looking down I saw a smiling little girl who had been encouraged to approach me by her friends. They signalled me to follow them, which I did. They stopped on the river-bank and pointed towards a group of happy youngsters splashing in the water, their swimming companion an albino hippo.
“Delightful” I thought.
They all shouted her name, but to this day, I am not sure what it was.
Secretly I wondered if they were teasing me and saying that I had the same colour skin as their animal friend.
Hopefully that was all, and not saying I was the same size as the creature.
The elders from the village decided to join us and much to my amazement, some of the men shared their beers with her.
Goodness, a friendly white hippo that was a beer guzzler!
I am not sure if it was from drinking beer in the full sun, but she eventually tired of swimming and beached herself on the bank, dropping into a deep sleep.
Graham had come to the end of his indaba (meeting) under the mango tree.
I made my way back to the pick-up truck feeling like the Pied Piper of Hamlin with all the village children in tow.
Stopping on my way, I decided to show my group of followers video footage I had taken of them with my camera.
They were soon intrigued and fighting over prime viewing positions, laughing and pointing at themselves on the screen.
It dawned on me that they had never seen television, let alone play-back images of themselves.
Who am I to complain about lack of modern technology like Internet, cell/mobile phones and the like?
My three months stay ends on Wednesday morning at 4.30 am when we have to make the drive from Morrumbala to Quelimane. I dread the first two hours of back breaking bush track to the main road to Quelimane which is a further 3-4 hours, (all depending on what happens on the road with it’s bicycles, people, goats, long haul trucks and other vehicles.)
Although my first leg of air travel to Maputo only starts at 14.30, I have been warned to get to the airport by midday. Even although I am booked on the flight, it is a case of first come, first served on LAM – the Mozambique Airline.
I shall be biting my nails that we take off in time as I only have an hour in Maputo to check in to my International flight to Johannesburg and I now have the knowledge and experience of how long the customs and immigration can be in Mozambique.
So fingers crossed for me everyone!
Once in Johannesburg I look forward to spending a couple of nights with my cousin before leaving Africa for England on Friday evening.
Saturday will see me rejoining my daughters, son-in-law and grandson for a week before I start work again for a few months.
I am so excited to see them and already wondering if my grandson will remember me after a five month break.
The sad part is I leave Graham to return to work at OLAM in Morrumbala on his own.
I often found the place lonely and remote, even with his company after work. How will he feel when I am gone with no one to come home to in the evenings?
A few years ago when Graham and I were working on cruise liners together as art auctioneers, I mentioned to him that I felt so sorry for couples who had to live apart for months on end like many of the crew had to.
Little did I know that the world recession would affect tourism to South Africa and thus leave our little bed and breakfast empty more often than not.
Africa is a place of contrasts, and with the way things have been in South Africa, we have been forced to take jobs where we can find them.
The distance between Mozambique and England will not be so huge, just so long as the Internet works!
If you enjoy my writing, purchase my books and EBooks:
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Jahme Art Gallery
February 17, 2008

Some Updates From The Jahme Art Gallery, L’Agulhas

Jahme Art Newsletter. January, 2008

Art Gallery & Studio
Tel: +27-28-4357743 – P.O. Box 58 – L’Agulhas – 7287 – Western Cape – Republic of South Africa

First of all we wish you the very best for 2008.

Renovations of our place here at the southern most tip of Africa are almost complete. We moved into the new gallery wing early in December last year & are happy to say that our paintings are on full display to the public. Sales have been great and we have made good friends with people from all over the world who have purchased our work.

Our personal website should be up and running in the near future, but until then, if you want to look at what Graham has been up to lately, go to his site at Artists for Conservation: http://www.natureartists.com/graham_jahme.asp

I am busy originating illustrations for my latest children’s book about elephants & having great fun painting bright, bold abstracts. You can purchase & see previews of my book of poetry “African Dust on the Soles of My Feet” and my children’s illustrated book “Africa’s Amazing ABC” at: http://www.lulu.com/susancookjahme

Here are images of a few paintings we have in our Studio Gallery:

Lion Study – Graham Jahme

Sunshine Girl – Sukie, (Susan Cook-Jahme)

Figs for Dinner – Sukie, (Susan Cook-Jahme)

In Full Flight – Graham Jahme

Below two out of fifteen of our paintings purchased this month:

Chipmbere & Calf – Graham Jahme

Isaak at Sunset – Sukie, (Susan Cook-Jahme)

If you have an artwork from either of us, we trust you are getting as much pleasure out of it as we did creating it. There are days we wake up and feel like pinching ourselves to see if it’s true…you see, we live our dream as full time artists, – and meeting people like you who share our lives by having a part of our essence in your painting or photograph purchased from us means a great deal to us.

Until next time,
Hamba Kahli – go in peace –

Graham & Susan

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