So when I had leisure time, the thought of battling through the centre of Port Louis was not my idea of fun. Fortunately I found some interesting back roads to avoid the jams.
One route was to head south past a little reservoir called La Nicolière. There was no direct route from our house – the layout of the roads followed the alignment of the cane plantations and I would take one of two alternatives through villages like Mapou, Poudre D’Or and Piton. The roads steadily rose up to the main A2. The A2 was one of those magnificent cane plantation roads; to shade the travellers avenues of trees had been planted and these had grown to have thick trunks like the pillars in a cathedral nave. After rising still further I turned off through some more cane fields and eventually reaching a dam wall. At the far end of this the road turned sharply up some hairpins, but I would usually stop to take in the cooler air and view from this point. The lake was tucked under a set of wooded mountains but still perched high up amongst them and looking north the whole northern plain was laid out before you. Mostly it was sugar cane fields, but it was pockmarked with villages and small wooded areas; often the old plantation houses. The sea shimmered in the far distance and if it were clear enough you could see the islands; the ones which loomed so large at Calodyne were specs on the horizon from here.
Heading up the hairpins was a hair raising experience, mainly due to mad young teenagers on scooters or people with cars too large for them to handle swinging out in front of you on the bend. Once up on the mountain themselves you were in thick forest, with occasional glorious vistas hinted at through clearings to your left. This was the Rubicon for me, the views were different now from my home area; I had passed across to the “rest” of the island.
More often than not when I passed this way, the cloud base was low and I drove through a cool soggy forest, the reeds and mosses on either side thriving in this environment. It was almost like being in a Scottish forest in midsummer. I loved it, it was the closest place to our house which I could call a wilderness. A few people did come up here to picnic but the climate was not really to Mauritian tastes. The odd vehicle passed through and there was some work on the forests. But it was so quiet compare to the hustle and bustle of the villages.