After 21 days at sea the Picton Castle has made landfall and put into Rodriguez Island, which is to the east of Mauritius. The second new place to us in a row, new to all of us! A small island with only 5500 people who live here, the capital town of Port Mathurin is tiny grid of streets named after the British town planners who developed it in the 00’s. Full of tiny little shops with corrugated iron shutters painted in an array of bright colors. Tropical flowers weep over the roads and over fences, the air is full of smells of baking bread and frying fish. Mainly French Creole now and part of the Mauritius it has an array of Chinese, Malagasy and French people; with big smiles and really friendly hello’s. We have only been here less than a day and have found friends already!
As the off watch sprang onto the dock yesterday to go in search of a cold drink, they found their usual mission slightly harder than usual. The New Years holiday is still being celebrated and many people have not yet returned to the island and many businesses are still closed. YIKES!!!� Along our hunt we found a man named Carl. He spoke no English, no French only Creole. He got the idea of our charade of needing a cool drink and laughing he waved his arm for us to follow him, like following the Pied Piper off we all trotted. He tried for us so hard, walking all over town to no avail, finally we had picked up several locals by this point desperate to help us in our quest for a cool beverage (very important after a long passage with no refrigeration!!), they popped us into the back of a pick-up truck along the side of the road, walked up to the door of a house there and explained the situation. Now I don’t think this guy was a cabbie, I don’t even think he knew the guys who knocked on his door, he definitely didn’t know us. His wife was hanging out of the second story window baby in her arms waving his chubby little arms at us and smiling. We smiled and waved back, what else do you do? Still sitting in the back of this mans truck; the locals were obviously explaining the situation with much arm movement and shaking of heads, finally he grabbed his keys laughing and off we went. A couple of minutes down the road we stopped along the beach, halleluiah! And there it was a restaurant bar with a big fridge in the corner… yippee!
We asked them to join us, no no he said maybe tomorrow first he would return home for dinner but they wished us a good evening and off they went. We went into the restaurant and ordered cool cool drinks. But wait, these are not so cold. Ahh bless us, all they had were warm drinks. We laughed and drank them anyway. As is typical of a first night in port, all you really want to do is order food that you choose, and drink cool beverages. Well we had the food we also had the drinks, but we were lacking the cool but whatever we were greeted with big smiles and friendly people. John went off to a corner store, bought some ice cold beers and headed back to the restaurant. The owners did not mind that we went BYO to their bar.
On Saturdays (today) the local market starts at 5am and goes until about noon. People from all over the island come to set up their stalls. There is every imaginable hot sauce and spicy pickled sauces, chilies in bottles of oil, big jars of local honey and beautiful vegetables. Joe and his gang were up early picking up fresh produce for us. Big mounds of red juicy looking tomatoes, bunches of beets, little pineapples which are really the sweetest I have ever tasted, big bunches of cilantro, mint and parsley, big wagons full of baguettes. As well as vegetables there were lots of very colourful woven baskets of every size and shape and handmade hats all lining the narrow streets this morning.
Onboard the watch has taken advantage of being in port — we are making some serious mess; that at sea we don’t usually get the chance to do. Yesterday the crew sent down the fore royal yard to make some repairs and today we are giving the galley a massive clean and makeover, everything comes out and then after good scrub the whole galley gets a coat of new paint. This also means we get to set up the barbeque on the stern. Erin and David Zimmer are making burgers and hotdogs for lunch and something grilled for dinner, lovely.� Logan is working on new sink platforms for the heads, Rebecca is still working on the Stay, Andrea Moore, Pania, and Keith are working on topsides and Susannah is laying out sail with Morgan and Ivan on the dock, Chibley has gone ashore for the first time since Rarotonga when we were last up alongside and she is loving it and well I am sitting in the office listening to tunes and writing this. It’s a good day to be part of the Picton Castle crew.