Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Well I managed to get up on the board when Barry was in the vicinity so we have proof positive that I actually can do it.  The day was really blustery and I had a few very good face plants after being pulled half out of the water.  Some days I think I have more guts than brains. On this day the owner said we will try it out but if I felt it is too much for me we would cut the session short. The guy in the boat called it off after only a half an hour on the water.  Both of the other people that I started learning with gave up. The fellow in his late forties gave up before he even got up on the board, he was taking on too much water, the girl in her early thirties, gave up after being dragged around under water for awhile, what can I say, they are wimps. I may give it one more try before we leave, I know I am almost of the verge of really getting it and going for long runs.  
We are hoping to leave this weekend for Mauritius, there is a good weather window and who knows when the next one will be. It really blows here and it is supposed to calm t 15 knots for a few days.  It is only a 3 day sail to Mauritius so the window does not need to be very big. 

 We have finished all 8 named hikes on the island.  We had wonderful time doing them and I figure with all that upping and downing I am in better shape than I have been for quite a long time.  This picture shows the area for kite surfing, the breaking waves are on the reef, so the whole inside of the area is free of waves and perfect for kite surfing.  

This is one of the lovely small coves that we came across on our walk that went along the sea shore. The sand is fine and soft, the water warm and protected in the cove and you can watch the surf endlessly.  This is the closest the reef gets to the shore along here and those waves were 2 1/2 to 3 meters, the power in them was absolutely awesome. 
One of the only staircases we have encountered on our walks, it is down to a very popular beach.         

We rented a motorbike for a day and tootled around most of the roads on the island we had not been on before. At one point we came to the end of the pavement and a very bumpy, dirt track lead down the mountain. Barry had great fun negotiating down the hill and commented that this was the way to get down a mountain, never mind all that hiking nonsense.  

A new church on the west end of the island, close to the water.

A cathedral built in 1939, the largest in the Indian Ocean. 
This is the view we had on our second last hike.  We threaded around the left side of the hill and then picked our way through a rocky path to the water side.  We have been treated to spectacular views like this on most of our hikes. There is very little industry on Rodrigues. There are lots of small farm plots where market gardening takes place, they plant lots of green beans, onions and corn. The other main thing that seems to employ people are cottage crafts.  There are all sorts of jams, pickles, and chutneys available in the main market in Port Mathurin and there are road side stalls everywhere you look. There are also a great deal of woven baskets, hats and containers that is another main craft. The other areas of employment are bus driver or conducter, school teacher and street or sidewalk sweeper.  This is the cleanest country we have been to since leaving Australia.  The other main occupation is fishing, but they catch more octopus and calamari on the reef than actual fish. 
Octopus or ourite (in French) drying on the beach
This is one of my favourite houses on the island. I am not sure why but if the houses are painted and not left in their original cement block colour they are bright and beautiful.  The combination of lilac, bright canary yellow and peach is not something you would typically see in North America. WHY NOT?  These are such happy startling colours, if I ever own another home I am going to paint it like this.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I have recently added 3 new boat blogs to our list of friends to follow.  Tagish, a Canadian boat, with Brian and Dorothy were with us in Sri Lanka, Chagos and Rodrigues.  They have just recently sailed to Mauritius.  Sal Darago with Kathy and Jeremy are a British boat. They sailed from Thailand down the west coast of Sumatra to Cocos Keeling and then here.  Harmonie are ahead of us.  They were in Sri Lanka and Chagos with us then sailed directly to Mauritius. They have completed their Indian Ocean journey and are in South Africa. Reading their blog gave us an idea of the trials we have to look forward to crossing the Alguhas current that runs down the east coast of South Africa.  It is always interesting to read how others are doing and their take on the same experiences we are having. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Heading out all geared up
Almost up out of the water
Working hard to try and get up, board is facing the wrong way!!!
Taking on water
 Here are some decent actions shots, Barry took them from the chase boat.  During the lessons, we would fly the kites downwind and then the instructor would come back and fly your kite back upwind or you would just drag it back upwind in the water, very tiring. Today we went on a down wind jaunt.  They took us in a boat about 5 km upwind and then we flew (well I was mostly dragged) back down wind to the home beach.  At the end of the third lesson I felt like I was getting the hang of it.  I had some decent runs on the board and I felt like I was making progress.  Today there was less wind and I had a bigger kite which was slower to react. I was dragged around a lot, I swallowed a lot of water and  I only had one half decent little run on the board.  I was so frustrated and tired at the end of the lesson, golly, gosh, shucks, darn!
We asked if Barry could come along in the boat and the instructor was lucky to have him.  He was in the water holding the kite when the lines got mixed up, he drove the boat, he grabbed my board when  I lost it and was dragged downwind too far away to pick it up.  He was a marvel.  At the end of the downwind run, the instructor told me to drop the kite and he took the boat out in front of me in anticipation of picking up the kite, wrong move.  I was tired and was trying to figure out what he wanted and took my eyes of the kite, it got inverted and crashed right into the boat.  It just BARELY missed Barry and the instructor, I could have decapitated them, it was kind of unsafe of him to get the boat in a position where the kite would hit it when it came down.  I am glad it did not hit anyone.  
I can do some more downwind runs, I don't really need more lessons, just practice.  It would be nice to have a chase boat along to get you out of trouble.  I guess I could just go out and walk back upwind as well, that would be a lot less expensive. I got some money back on my taxes, so perhaps I will pay for a couple more downwind runs, we'll see.  We are waiting to get some mail from Canada and once it comes we will look for a window to go to Mauritius. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Stretching up to get her neck scratched

Another hiking shot through eucalyptus trees
Well I am finally getting my kite surfing fix! The last 2 days the wind has been humming away at over     20 knots and I have been getting hauled around the water at great rate. Let me set the scene for you.  The beach is on the windward side of the island, it is about a kilometer long and the reef is about 500 to 700 meters away. That means there is a huge space where the kiting is ideal, no waves, shallow water and lots of room.  The other day I saw 12 kites out there and there was room for twice that many.  The first lesson I got to do some body dragging, lying on your stomach in the water and flying the kite back and forth so it drags you around.  I have learned to let go when I get in trouble rather than haul down like we used to do in kite skiing, when you do that on this kite it powers it up and you get yanked out of the water.  I had a few face plants and swallowed some sea water, but no damage.  At the end of the lesson, we got to try and get up on the board, now that is a challenge.  The second lesson was all about getting up on the board.  I managed for about 10 meters and was just getting the hang of it when the lesson was over.  Lesson # 3 is scheduled for today and the wind is blowing so it should be on.  Hopefully I can co-ordinate the kite and the board and get he feel of the board under me.  Wish me luck.  
A herd of turtles
Hopefully I will get some kite surfing pics. Even if it is just the area, it is great.                                      

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Looking down at the anchorage. 

We have been living the quiet life here in Rodrigues.  We have been actively exploring the hilly island, having taken 5 of the 8 hiking trails with plans to do all 8 before we leave. The topography consists of hilly ridges and valleys. The island was almost completely denuded at one time, now the valleys have pockets of forests with introduced trees such as eucalyptus and thorny acacias. Some slopes are barren with cattle roaming about and we felt as if we were strolling across a Saskatchewan landscape. We were making our way down a hill yesterday and there was the most perfect climbing tree you ever saw. 
                                        There were huge limbs close to the bottom enticing me to hoist my way up into its branches.  I guess I still am young at heart. There are usually guava trees on   our hiking routes, with ripe guavas sitting on the ground, we have been enjoying their sweet taste  on most of or hikes.  Most days consist of going ashore to get a fresh baguette and visit the fruit and veggie market to get whatever supplies we want for supper.  I have been trying to fit in some kite surfing lessons but so far the wind has not co-operated, maybe tomorrow. 

The other day 6 of us set out to the turtle sanctuary.  In the 1800's Rodrigues was covered in tortoises, one report in the museum said you could walk on top of them for a long way. 
 They were nearly all slaughtered for their meat, but have been restocked from Madagascar and there are now almost 2000 on the island.  They are not as large as the tortoises we saw on the Galapagos Islands but the largest weighed  200 kilograms and the oldest was over 110 years old. We were allowed to touch them and they would stretch up their necks to be scratched.  Their skin was very dry wrinkly but soft. We went to visit a limestone cave afterwards. It was very large and there were stalagmites and stalagtities that would reach from floor to ceiling.  The guide had stories for all the different shapes seeing crocodiles, frogs and even Santa Claus in the limestone shapes.