Category Archives: Flic en Flac

Welcome to the Mau-chine

As I toasted the end of another wonderful Mauritian day with a six pack of Phoenix on the beach, I put on the Pink Floyd album Animals and lay back as the sun bled into the sea. It felt appropriate, because that album is the only thing as surreal as the evening beauty of this country. The guitars were wailing and the dogs were howling when I felt a tap on the shoulder, and turned around to see a little bloke with a big smile on his face.

“You like Pink Floyd?” he asked. I thought the answer was obvious, but I told him that that yes, I do enjoy their unique style of guitar-led rock and roll. “You should come to Pink Floyd concert tonight. Just five kilometres from here. You will have wonderful time.”
He handed me a little flyer with a picture of Pink Floyd on it, and I immediately punched the sky. I’ve been a massive fan of Floyd for years, but have never had a chance to see them, so I couldn’t believe how lucky I was that they were playing just down the road from me in Flic en Flac. I cranked up the music, cracked open another can, and prepared myself for an epic evening of progressive rock.

The buses stop running early in Mauritius, so by the time I’d swilled enough booze to poison a wombat and decided to head out, my feet were my only option. I’m telling you, it’s not easy to dodge nutty Mauritian drivers on a dark back road after smashing 11 cans of beer, but somehow I made it to the concert just as the band was launching into In the Flesh? I was nearly dying of thirst after my epic five kilometre treck, so I fronted up to the nearest bark, waited in line for 20 minutes, and finally told the little barman to pour me four of his coldest beers. I was licking my lips like Rolph Harris in a pre-shool – I couldn’t wait to sink some piss!

“Where you ticket?” the barman asked me as I waved a few hundred rupees in his face. Apparently I had to trade my real money in for some stupid tickets called FunBux, and the line for FunBux was about 100m long. Pink Floyd had already blasted through Wish You Were Here and Run Like Hell by the time I joined the back, and while I was standing in line like a chump thay raced through Time and Money, so I was worried the concert would slide by before I’d even had a chance to get shitfaced. The Mauritians, it seems, could not organise a root in a brewery (or something like that).

I finally scored a fistful of booze somewhere in the middle of a 45-minute rendition of Echoes, and moved into the crowd to find some attractive young island dwellers who might want to spend the evening looking at the dark side of my moon. Mauritius might be multi-ethnic, but I was pretty much the darkest person there, and I struggled to find anyone young enough to be able to work a computer without calling their grandchildren for help. After dirty dancing with someone’s grandmother for the entirety of Young Lust (she put her hands down my pants after I sang, “Oooooo, I need a dirty woman!”), I finally stood back to check out the band.

Dave Gilmour was a bit darker than I thought he’d be, and I was surprised to see that Roger Waters had a pineapple-like haircut and colourful boardshorts. Nick Mason had obviously decided to become an overweight Indian since the band’s heyday, and Rick Wright looked quite sprightly for a man who’s been dead for nine years. I turned to the dude next to me and asked, “Is this a fuckin’cover band?” He just looked at me like my dick was hanging out of my shorts.

As far as cover bands go The Mauritian Tribute to Pink Floyd are no worse than the countless Balinese bands who play Wish You Were Here on a loop to bored tourists. In fact, they were bloody brilliant instrumentally, but struggled with the words, leaving Roger Waters’ brilliant lyrics sounding like the words of a homeless man at a glory hole. I found some fellow Aussies to get smashed with and was comfortably numb by the end of the night (despite the lines at the bar), so I can’t really complain.

As I was staggering out after the final song, I got talking to a tall, grey-haired bloke who seemed to be a big fan of Pink Floyd.
“I never got to see the real band play,” I lamented, while stepping over a stray dog.
“That’s a shame,” he replied. “I’ve seen more Floyd concerts than just about anyone.”
“Bloody hell, you must’ve met the band members and everything.”
“Just once or twice.”
“But still, I think those fellas made a decent effort to be like Pink Floyd. I could’ve sworn that was Roger Waters up there on bass.”
“Really?” the silver-haired gentleman asked with a smile. “I don’t think he looked the least bit like me.”

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Black River Gorge-ous!

Whenever I climb a mountain, it rains. When I climbed Mount Field, it stormed. When I climbed Ulsanbawi, it poured. When I climbed Le Pouce, it pissed down. So when I decided to hike to the top of Black River Gorges National Park, in the south of Mauritius, I was ready for things to get a bit wet – and that’s exactly what happened. Honestly, I could end droughts by travelling the world and walking up hills.

I got dropped off at the Grand Bassin Hindu Temple just as the storm clouds were rolling in, and I was shocked to find a gaggle of hideous mutants hanging around. There was a bizarre monkey-man, a sexy mermaid, and even a terrifying elephant-headed creature. I felt like I was in an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and half expected Bebop and Rocksteady to turn up and start punching my head in. It’s a nice, peaceful place, and I really got to soak in the atmosphere as I huddled under cover from the rain for 45 minutes.

Just up the road are a couple of 30m-tall statues of Shiva and his missus. They’re quite spectacular, and can be seen towering over the landscape for miles around. The Grand Bassin is a place of pilgrimage for the 600,000 Hindus in Mauritius, and these two statues are the most sacred things in the whole country. I was mightily impressed, but Mrs Shiva was definitely looking a little bit frustrated – most likely because her hubby is wrapped up in scaffolding at the moment, so they can’t root.

The Petrin entrance to Black River Gorges is a short 5km hike from the Shiva statues, and I covered it in record time due to the squall picking up around me. Once through the gates, I followed the well-maintained path up through dense foliage towards the top of the mountain. It’s around six kilometres to the Macchabee View Point, in the centre of the park, and the walk passes epic waterfalls and jaw-dropping canyons. Even with the poor weather, the park was a sight to behold.

Here’s a tip for you; if you’re lazy and don’t want to hike straight up a very steep mountain, enter from Petrin and head west towards Black River. It’s a much easier walk to Macchabee than going in the other direction – the poor bastards I saw coming from the Black River entrance looked like they’d been through 10 rounds with Aussie boxing hero Jeff Horn. The trip down that path was hard enough, and there were plenty of times when I almost tripped over and busted my arse on the sharp and slippery rocks that litter that ground.

The weather was getting worse the longer I hung around the park, so I was forced to hotfoot it out of there so I could find some shelter. I scooted off to the main road and leapt onto a bus bound for Flic en Flac, then held on tight as the driver did his best to crash the fucking thing into any pedestrians, dogs or cars he could find. The mad bastard did actually sideswipe some bludger’s car, but kept right on going. Mauritius might be a relaxed place, but the bus drivers are absolute nutters.

Thankfully, by the time I got back to the beach the clouds had cleared and I was able to pick up a few icy cold cans of Phoenix to sip while enjoying another life-affirming sunset. The weather around here might be as temperamental as a teenager, but when it’s nice it’s very bloody nice indeed. Don’t worry, I’ll have a beer or three for you!