Out of Africa, into France

Trip Start Mar 14, 2013
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Trip End Apr 05, 2013


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Where I stayed
Ibis

Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tuesday morning I worked in my room, and then I drove in to Port Louis for lunch and to see what was happening after the flooding. There is an inexpensive Indian restaurant right on the port, where I have enjoyed eating ever since I began coming to Mauritius more than 10 years ago. One can sit outside on the terrace and observe the ships and fishing boats.

As I arrived in Port Louis and parked in the Caudan Waterfront parking lot, I noticed the Cunard liner the Queen Mary II was in this world-famous port. That meant there would be a lot of wealthy English seniors wandering around town, which indeed turned out to be the case. As I walked toward the restaurant, I saw men with a large fire hose connected to a pump at the water of the port, so sea water, shooting high pressure jets over the sidewalks to clear remaining mud deposited by the flash floods of a few days earlier. At the entrance to the underpass tunnel where most of the 11 people who died drowned, there was a small memorial with photos of the deceased. There was a small crowd of Mauritians standing and sitting around the periphery talking about the events in the local Creole. It must have been a frightening few minutes as the water began pouring in both sides of the tunnel, and stall owners tried to save their goods until it was too late and they couldn't get out.

I made my way through the crowds of locals and tourists to the restaurant and had a pleasant lunch as I mulled the various thoughts about life we often have when in the presence of recent and catastrophic death.

I filled the car with gas, hoping I had judged the distance correctly. Again Budget gave me the car willed 7/8s of a tank; this is regular procedure for them and I find it dishonest. If you bring it back full, they gain 10 or 15 dollars in gasoline, since they don’t reimburse anything. If you bring it back with any less that 7/8 of a tank however, you must pay them triple the price per liter for the trouble they take to go fill it. Except they don’t fill it. They just bring it up to 7/8 so they can run the same scam on the next customer. I think this is the last time I’ll use them; there are other rental companies, although "good" ideas like that tend to become commonplace. We’ll see next time.

The flight out of Mauritius left on time, and was fairly full. It was a 12-hour flight, so I was able to get about 6 hours of sound sleep and then dozed a few more which is pretty good.

On arrival in Paris, I went through arrival formalities and changed terminals. When I got to Terminal F I went to the Air France lounge and asked for the shower key. I was able to shower and change clothes, which is a wonderful advantage when there is not time to spend a night in a hotel.

Fresh and clean, I had some coffee and a pain au chocolat, as I waited for my next flight a few hours later. I boarded the flight for Bordeaux, just a quick shuttle flight of an hour and landed in the South-West city known for producing some of the best and certainly most expensive wines in the world. I picked up a rental car and started out to the east, driving past the village of Saint Emilion on its hilltop, famous for its red wines, and later through the village of Castillon la Bataille, near where the last decisive battle of the 100-years’ war marked the end of English possessions in France in July of 1453. It’s just bucolic farmland now.

I arrived at the Muirs’ home about 1:30, in time for a late lunch. We enjoyed catching up on all the news, family, friends and church over a 6-course French lunch. After lunch we got to work on items necessary for the functioning of our French church association. This work took most of the afternoon. By the time we were done, I had to hurry to get back to the Bordeaux Airport, where I arrived just in time to take the shuttle flight back to Paris. I collected my bags and walked to the airport shuttle train that would take me to the business pole where I had reserved a hotel room. As I approached the escalator leading down to the train platform, I noticed some security guards ushering a vagrant toward the same station. He was a young thin African, barefoot and in tattered clothing. It was near freezing outside, so being barefoot wouldn’t have been comfortable. They weren’t arresting him for vagrancy, just escorting him off the premises. “We don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here” seemed to be the idea. He got on the same train I and other passengers did, someone offered him some money, and he declined. He stayed on it when I got off at my stop. What was his story? I wondered. How did he get here, from where, and why?

It was wonderful to enter a clean hotel room with clean tap water I could drink (for the first time in three weeks) and hot running water to boot. I’m sure I will sleep well tonight.
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Comments

MaryHendren on

Hi Joel,

Wonderful to read that you've had a safe trip back and had a good visit with the Muirs. We appreciate the work you've put into keeping an interesting blog. The flooding tragedy is haunting--as it came on so suddenly.

Mary

Tess Washington on

Hi Mr. Meeker, thank you for giving us a final glimpse of Mauritius! That flooding incident brings to mind the scripture that talks about not going back to retrieve your possessions when one sees danger: Matt. 24:15-18. But as human beings, our first tendency would be to pick up our "things" which are worthless in the face of death. It is good that the Mauritians are honoring those people who died in that tragedy.
Glad to read about your flight back to Paris and your visit with the Muirs. Wonderful to know that we have faithful brethrens in this part of the world! Thank you so much for all the work you are doing...we learned from you through these blogs...take care and good to hear from you again!

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