A taste of delicacies brings me back to childhood memories, thinking of the barley sugars cooked on wood fire. They cost a few pennies and held us dashing on our way home from school, on foot. The trip seemed shorter. I liked the caramelized smell coming from the oven, blackened by the incandescent flames, smell reminding me of molasses. Through the sugar cane fields today in Mauritius, we still recall these old ways of manufacturing sugar, by casting a glance at the different amazing chimneys left over with time, a part of our authentic heritage.
At the end of the French colonization there were more than three hundred of these small sugar mills and life revolved around them, especially during the sugar cane harvest. They are all unique in their structure, height, material used and layout.
The three sugar estates still in operation today, even modernized, have kept their chimneys, an important feature in the manufacture of sugar.
They are all long lasting and resist to climatic conditions. One of the most beautiful is the one at Adventure du Sucre in Beau Plan. It can be photographed during one of the excursions organized by Mautourco, with experienced guides. Reflected in a mirror, elegant and majestic, it becomes spectacular. The chimney on the other hand at Albion, all made of red bricks, is the pride of the village, although it is smaller in size. At Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens, now SSR Gardens, a replica of a sugar mill with a chimney takes us back to the days when Mauritius was a colony while at La Rhumerie de Chamarel, one cannot but stop to look at the magnificence of the entrance while facing the chimney.
It goes without saying that along Mauritian roads, emerging from the fields, every now and then a chimney draws our attention. We should all feel concerned about them for their uniqueness, they are real works of art.
Let us protect them for their authenticity and let’s pay tribute to our ancestors who have contributed to the agricultural life… Sugar mill chimneys are just amazing!
Lza M Natur