Saturday 21 August 2010

Highs and lows

Rain, rain, rain and endless grey skies - until this afternoon, that is, when the sun finally broke through and, seemingly within minutes, the icecream van was cruising the neighbourhood cranking out 'Home, Home on the Range' and reminding us all that when deer and antelope play, can summer be far behind?

The last van I saw was on Mauritius, when we stopped at a beachside picnic place on the Morne Peninsula where we found many groups of people out enjoying the day, including this party of elderly Indian ladies. They were making simple music with a drum, bell, tambourine and these wooden blocks, and several of them were dancing in the centre of their circle. Typically for Mauritians, when they saw us watching, they invited us in to join the dance - and were amused to find that their 80-plus year-old hips were a lot more mobile than our stiff Western ones.

Apparently, old people get a lot of free treats like that, which is good to hear. We passed a very flash-looking building on our drive, called the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Recreation Centre for Senior Citizens. (I didn't have to look that name up to get it right: I hope you're impressed. 'Father of the nation', it's everywhere, starting at the airport.)

The Morne Peninsula is pretty spectacular, with a sudden rocky outcrop shooting up to 556m where in the nineteenth century runaway slaves hid out on the top of the mountain. At the bottom there's a monument to resistance to slavery, which includes a reference to the story that some of them, unaware that slavery had subsequently been abolished, panicked when they saw soldiers climbing towards them, and leaped to their deaths.

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