The Dodo Trail

Trail running is something I had never really tried, excepting a small 5ks I did along the walking trail alone the Klienmond sea front. I enjoyed it a lot, the sea breeze, the sights and sounds of the flora and fauna and the excitement of not knowing what challenge is around the next bend. 

So we had heard of the Dodo Trail, a run through the nature reserves on the western side of the island. They had 3 trails to choose from, a 14, 26 and 52km. Being a week after my first half marathon, and not really knowing what to expect I didn’t want to push my luck, so I signed up for the 14. 

On the Friday, race pack collections and pre race briefing were held at La Pirogue hotel just down the road from us, a well-organized gig as well I must say. After collecting my race number I proceeded to stroll around waiting for the race briefing. I saw a sign that read “From Hell to Paradise” and assumed it was for the more hard-core runners doing the 27 and 52k. We were tight for time and they were having issues with there sound equipment so I thought to myself, what more can they tell me, I rock up in the morning for the bus, get to the race and run right? So back home we went, a move I would later regret!

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So after a fair intake of pasta, a good nights sleep and a bathing of sunscreen, I arrived at the hotel ready for the transfer. There were plenty of people waiting, which was nice to see after the small attendance at the Mauritian Marathon. The bus drove us to the start point, a fair distance by road to where we were would eventually end up.

A young American lady, Nicole and myself had got chatting, and luckily for me she had a fair grasp on the French language so translated what the announcer had to say. Which was pretty much drink lots of water while you can, and enjoy the race. The pack of us, a fair 270 odd runners headed down to the start. I noticed lots of camel packs, runners wearing gloves and lots of compression socks. I however had no such gear, just my stock standard road running attire! Feeling I was in for a little more that I signed up for Nicole asked me what my goal time was, I shrugged and said I didn’t really have one, I just wanted to run as much as possible. After a high 5 and wishing each other good luck we were off.  With the large pack we quickly got separated, which was not much of an issue at the time.

The first 2km or so was on pretty flat dirt road, after that however it got tricky, we started to climb, and climb and climb! As we climbed the roads became trails and after that they became rocky hill faces with little resemblance of a trail. It didn’t take very long until I had had my first fall, nothing to injure myself, but not a good feeling. The terrain became harder and harder to negotiate, with loose gravel, loose rocks and tree roots jutting out of everywhere. And then, as if Mother Nature were having a laugh it started to drizzle. This however I didn’t mind. The fact that it made the already tricky paths wet and slippery was not my worry. I was dying from the heat, and yet to see a water point.

Running was barely an option at some points if you valued your life, and if going up was not enough work, coming down on the other side was even scarier! The drizzle had stopped and now the sun was pelting down on us! The gravel coming down the side of the mountain was loose, and the gradient was steep, so much so that at parts it seemed almost impossible to stay afoot. Luckily at what seemed the steepest part of our decent there was a fence alone the side of the trail. This provided a lifeline to grab onto when my feet started slipping out from under me.

We finally reached the bottom of the hill, and a tarred road. At this point I was suffering from dehydration and my head felt that it was on the verge of exploding. The road didn’t last long though and before I knew it we were back on a path, but now at least it was under the cover of trees. We ran along the side of a river over rocks and through a fair share of mud. At one point we had to run ankle high through the river, which would have been great if it didn’t smell of rot and death. After the marshy section we made our way back onto a road, and through a village with locals cheering us on. The smell of breakfast in the air! A marshal directed us onto a field and finally the first water point. 11km in! I glugged down 2 cups of coke and the same in water, I drenched my head and hair with ever more water. I felt my temperature dropping and started feeling much better.

We ran off the field and I immediately knew where I was, Tamarin Beach. A marshal told us something as we ran past, and I had it translated for me! 3km to go. We ran along the beach for a while, then up onto a path that took us around the rather hectic rocks that line that part of the beach. Thankfully I must add. Once we had passed the rocky area we were back on the beach and struggling to find firm sand to make the final stretch a little more bearable. At this point there were 4 of us running together, a local lady who seemed no stranger to the sport, her teammate, Nicole and myself. We ran this section in single file literally on the waters edge. We where fooled once or twice by sail boats belonging to the hotels, thinking there brightly coloured sails where the finish. But finally there it was! Our final destination.

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We pulled into the hotel and ran the last couple of meters along the hotels path. I crossed the finish line with a great sensation of relief and accomplishment. To be honest it had not all sunk in yet, it was all just to much to take in at that moment. The grueling climbs, suicidal descents, lack of water, the strong scenes of camaraderie as well as the breath taking scenery.

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It is something I will definitely do again, but next time I will certainly gear up better and be both physically and mentally prepared for the challenge!

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The Beach Party!

So our new friends had invited us to a beach party for their buddies birthday. We umm-ed and arr-ed about it and whether we were going to go or not. But our new friends insisted we come and were not letting us go home. We were exhausted, our bodies were sore but our friends were so excited for us to come that how could we not. We reached the public beach between the hotels on Royal Road in Flic en Flac, we parked the car and were lead through the forest of casuarina trees, where we found people setting up DJ equipment, getting the braai ready, making a fire and the cakes and booze were placed on the table ready to go.

It really was something we had never experienced as here, in Mauritius it is allowed, you’re allowed to have a good time and a few drinks on the beach with your mates, you’re allowed to set up a camp site and go camping for a weekend with your family. Where as in South Africa it is definitely not allowed so this was all new. We met some interesting characters, a guy named Danny for invited us to stay at his home in Vacoas, a really drunk elderly-ish man named Jake who couldn’t speak much english and just kept asking us if we like Mauritius and if we like to Sega. Both these guys couldn’t be happier to share there booze, Danny would come with another glass of rum and juice and Jake with another beer (have no idea where he was getting these beers from).

Whilst we were meeting new face, others were plying traditional music, singing and dancing. Was really cool, we stood around the fire chatting to all these new faces. We chatted to a guy named James, he is a French Mauritian and because he was talking to us, everyone who didn’t know him automatically assumed he was a tourist. Really good guy.

The DJ-ing started, the food was being passed around and people were just having a great time. It was around midnight when we were physically exhausted and need to sleep. Our hosts didn’t want us to leave but we had to as we had a full day planned for the next day. But just as sad they were that we were going, they were so pleased that we came.

Was an experience to remember, so awesome! A real beach party, not by the hotels-by the locals!!!

Thank you guys! (you know who you are) It was Awesome!

Standing around the fire

Lets go for a drive…

In the last week, we’ve scoped out the shopping malls and checked out the best supermarkets. Today we decided to take a drive towards the south on the coastal road to see what there was to be seen. And mainly to go check out the crystal clear waters of Le Morne.

Sky was clear, sun was shining an off we went. Once we got past Tamarin, Black River’s vegetation has many similarities to South African Bos Veld. I can see why so many South Africans live in this region as it does kind of feel like home. A home comfort in a way.

We carried on south until we turned down to Le Morne. Some of the island best hotels are situated in Le Morne. A beautiful odd shaped mountain (looks like a massive rock) overlooks the turquoise bays of Le Morne.

We stopped at the public beach, so quiet and isolated, so untouched. Unreal. Never have I seen such clear water.

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We carried on around the corner to find what Le Morne is famous for. KITE SURFERS!!! So awesome, need to try it. I’m sure it’s a whole lot harder than it looks but why not give it a shot.

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From there, were headed back the way we came and took the turn to Chamarel to stop at the viewpoint on the mountain. We were so lucky, the day was just glorious and so was the view, we carried on further along the mountain, past the Rhumerie until we reached the Black River Gorge National Park. We pulled over and took a walk to the viewpoint, and what a view it is. Just stunning.

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We walked back to the car and across the road was a stand selling fresh sugar cane juice. After seeing it being made on Masterchef South Africa I was curious to try it. 50 Rupees later we had a cup of sugar cane juice and a piece of sugar cane each to chew on. Loved chewing on the sugar cane. The man who sold us the juice couldn’t speak English but was trying to tell us something. Possibly – “chewing sugar cane is like brushing your teeth”or “chewing sugar cane is good for your teeth”. I would think quite the opposite but hey who knows. The juice, hhhmmmm, not too sure about it. Was kind of brown in colour with a white froth, looked as if I was drinking an iced coffee. VERY sweet but that’s a given. I think I need to try it again to make up my mind.

From there we got a little lost in a forest, found our way out and back the way we came.  It’s truly a beautiful part of the island and something everyone should do.

The beauty on the island kind of makes up for the extremely scary drivers on the road! The locals like to take risks and one would think being South African you would be able to handle almost anything- not this.

Mike said, “People say we need to adapt, I’m cool to adapt but does this also mean I must drive like a crazy and not give a damn?”

 

The first few days!

Right, lets get everyone up to speed on our first few days of the Mauritian Expedition.

Saying goodbye to everyone was very hard- we had tears in our eyes right up until the food was served on the plane (we not had something to distracts us).

While eating my chicken and veg, served with bread rolls, salad, crackers and eclairs – I watched “The Descendants”, lovely movie, sad but lovely

We came in over the west coast (our new home) where we could see the colourful bays and greenery of the mountains but then as we reached the centre of the island-straight into thick cloud, all the way up until the last few seconds before landing. Having been to Mauritius a few times, the landings are always so intense, shorts and forceful. The pilots slam the brakes as if they plan on doing a hand brake turn.

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We got to passport control and the man behind the counter wasnt too sure of us, after giving us a little bit of a hard time (story for another day) we went through to collect our suit cases and find our rental car. When we walked out the airport building, there were 2 men, one young, one old, holding a sign for us. Both were wearing jerseys and jackets, so I had to ask, “Are you cold? And the answer I got was “YES!” It was humid and roughly 20 degrees but I guess for Mauritians they are used to the heat and this is there winter. We followed them to the car, a very sweet, postman pat like, red, Hyundai i10. after signing away and manoevering the cases and ourselves into the car, we set off on our ±45 min drive to Flic en Flac.

We arrived at our new home welcomed by our land lord Mr Dove. Fabulous man! and we helped us up to the apartment. Not long after the estate agent arrived to do an inventory. Once that was done and everyone had left we unpacked and were now able to unwind. We knew there wouldnt be food so we packed some 3 in 1 coffee sachets (coffee, sugar, creamer), chocolate and ostrich biltong. We decided to go out and get a pizza from the Debonairs up the road, when we realised that our sliding door to our balcony didnt lock. Being the paranoid South Africans we are, even on the 3rd floor, we were worried so we locked our bedroom door and took the keys and off we went to buy some chow.

With our chicken and mushroom pizza and 2litre coke we were happy chappies until we got to the apartment and couldnt unlock our bedroom door!! Instant panic! There was nothing we would do. so we decided to sleep in the other room and sort it out in the morning. We woke up and had to put on our same smelly clothes from the day before so we could go and find some WD-40. We found some in this strange little hardware store on the main road and rushed back to try it. Needless to say, a can of WD-40 later, we still could not open the door. The search to find a locksmith started, went to a few different places, no such luck. Last resort-call Mr Dove! Problem was, both our phones had gone dead as the chargers were locked in the room. So we walked to the nearest pay phone which isnt really that near. We managed to get a few seconds to tell Mr Dove the problem and then the phone stole all our money. We then decided to go to the Internet cafe and ask if we could use a phone. The kind owner allowed us to use his office to make the call and didnt charge us. Really genuine guy! So Mr Dove was sending us help!!! YAY! 

 A few hours later, his nephew arrived with a bag of tools and his son. The two of them also tried and tried and eventually the only solution was to break it open! So they did! Happiness filled my heart at that point!!! And once they left we went for a relaxing walk along the beach to watch the sun set!  Phew!

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Beautiful pic taken by Mike

You’ll be happy to know now,  both doors are fixed. Mr Dove bought a very skilled young carpenter to fix the door, he did an amazing job. And his nephew came to fix our sliding door! Thank you!

We have gone for morning runs/walks along the beach and have been exploring the supermarkets to find the best deals close by. And we finally bought beach towels so we can have a swim in the sea.

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Our friend who run/walked with us for about 3 kms.

Everyday is new and exciting! 

Especially the last few!  

Check out the sunset pics on the sunrise & sunset page!

Vanilla Bean

This cafe/restaurant caught our eye driving one day- so lovely and quaint.

I think its owned by South Africans. Its been decorated beautifully and is so warm and welcoming.

We made a quick stop there just for something to drink-also had a look around the shop, where they sell jam, relishes, cookies, rusks and more… you can also place an order for cakes and cupcakes. Delish. And it is the only place I have found so far that makes a freezochino. Served a little different to the way we served it in SA-but delicious none the less!

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http://theindependent.mu/2011/09/16/for-a-long-drive-stop-over/