Indian ocean

Banana: Rodrigues shows its caring heart!

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Without wishing to plagiarize JMG Le Clezio’s “Voyage à Rodrigues”, our stopover there literally had us mesmerized and I really don’t know where to begin with the story. Very selfishly I’m not even sure I should, for risk of spoiling the charm of the place! Just six months ago, I was still wondering where it was, this little piece of confetti, 18km long and 8 wide. We entered the splendid lagoon after six more or less comfortable days (rather less!), having set out from the Chagos Archipelago. The warm “Welcome to Rodrigues” with a friendly Créole accent which unfortunately I can’t put into writing, from the Harbormaster on channel 16 set the scene for a kindness which we found among all the inhabitants. There’s only one little anchorage in this shallow lagoon, for those sailors who are keen enough to spend a week to windward just to get there: Port Mathurin, the capital! Every ten days, the sailboats have to clear out of the way for the arrival of the supply ship to allow space for it to maneuver onto the dock. The rest of the time we didn’t get tired of watching the fishermen and Rodrigues’ famous “piqueuses d’hourites”. These are the octopus fisherwomen, “hourite” being the creole name for octopus, which is a traditional Rodrigues dish, served with all manner of sauces. Fishing for them on the flats of the coral reef is done on foot with a long metal pole remains women’s work. The octopuses are then left to dry on a drying rack, which looks like a work of art.
As for the soul of Rodrigues, it is embodied in the genuine friendliness of the people. Here everyone says hello to you and the Saturday morning market is real meeting place.
Sophie and Robert Louis on board Banana

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