There are certain regions in Mauritius, from which large crowds shy away and which deserve our protection as they have a special character. Albion, a small village in the west facing the open sea, is one of them.
Driving under the open sky, straw hat on the front seat, sunglasses on, in a casual chic outfit, I took a road with multiple bends in a convertible fun car hired at Hertz. I sang my throat out, carried away by a sense of joy and a feeling of freedom. On my left, a most unexpected green space: through coconut palms one could glimpse, above recently built houses, the horizon of the cobalt-blue Indian sea.
The spot being perfect for a walk, the convertible fun car within sight, I crossed the small lawn where I was charmed by a pond bordered by two-coloured Acalyphas, right in the middle of the vegetation. Water lilies were floating near a little waterfall with a barely audible melody. A selfie right there and then was a must.
I wanted to get closer to the village, I hit the road and arrived at an art gallery where a friendly artist exhibits her works: a perfect blend of necklaces, frames and paintings in a sparkling harmony of colours. What else would I discover in Albion in my convertible fun car? I took some time to chat with a short man, some sort of leprechaun back from fishing, holding a bamboo ‘gaulette’. He showed me an old chimney where a small sugar factory once was, stripped of its cap and which seemed lost in the sky amidst a few scattered clouds. How beautiful are these carved stones…
Come on! No time to linger. Alright, off I went for other sightings and no honking…In Albion, no pedestrian crossing…so watch out and, for me, no pedal to the metal!
Several cars were parked at the next bend. What was so interesting around? Hertz’s convertible fun car, comfortable and trendy, stood out, not only because of its colour; but it appealed to passers-by, sparking their questions: 1000 cc, maximum 110 kms/hour, 545 kms with the fuel tank filled up. I was delighted to pass on these details which I had myself gathered from the salesperson.
At this spot, a long and perfectly aligned metal bridge which some architects would envy crosses the aptly named Belle Eau (beautiful water) river. I did not dare imagining it flooding given the dense vegetation which had settled there for ages. I took a few steps and recalled one of my favorite books: The Bridges of Madison County, with a leading role for the bridge. But like the hero of the book, I had to continue my journey, hands on the steering wheel.
In the shade of the filaos trees along the beach, some children were having fun building sand castles, slapped gently by small waves. The few fishing boats at that time of the afternoon were undoubtedly a sign of an abundance of fish.
Next stop: scallop shell shaped Notre Dame de la Mer church. Only two of these exist in Mauritius, the other one being in La Gaulette in the South West. I pushed the front door…The atmosphere is conducive to meditation. Exclusive works deep down this safe haven: a wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ on the cross, on each side of which is an arabesque work of art illustrating the blue sea. The Passion of the Christ depicted by a painting of Vaco Baissac, a Mauritian artist of international reputation, is definitely worth the stop.
Pondering, I left this holy and so peaceful place to continue my journey. Eucalyptus plantations, also known as gum trees, brought from Australia to fight malaria gave off a subtle scent of fresh mint. They had adapted to this region and contrasted with the straw-coloured grass which prevails during this period.
Upon arrival at the village, I parked my Hertz convertible fun car in front of a ‘pied la colle’ (‘glue’ tree) where goats were grazing. They are part of a livestock belonging to a Mauritian of Indian origin. He moulds and sells to Catholics make-to-order caves where the statue of Virgin Mary is placed after being blessed. That’s Mauritius…Togetherness, respect and tolerance. I must confess I was moved seeing him at work.
He showed me the way to the lighthouse, three kilometres away. Easy to locate, I was looking forward to seeing it, as I had heard so much about it. Impressive, red and white, it warns sailors and fishermen of the danger of nearby cliffs. Inaugurated by Governor Cavendish Boyle in the beginning of the 20th century, I wanted to watch the show of its kick-off at dusk.
How great to take a break at this extraordinary and mythical place of natural beauty. I strongly felt the call to climb down the cliffs whose magnificent black-grey rocks, heated by the sun, are unique. Small pools scattered here and there attest the strong occasional waves. Then I climbed back. Some youths were there, playing acoustic music that was carried by the light breeze. Would a siren hear such a beautiful chant?
I took my cooler, placed my check tablecloth on the tall grass, took out the food and decided to wait for the sunset. My short break lasted one hour but it was worth it. The sun gradually disappeared behind the horizon, leaving me with a sense of happiness for having made a nice journey to Albion in a Joker: the convertible fun car rented at Hertz.
I then thought to myself ‘Live the present moment intensely’…Tomorrow will be another day.