I’ll talk more of this southern part of the island soon, but let’s return to Calodyne. I said the northern plain was cut off from the rest of the island by Port Louis and a range of mountains. That is not quite true. If you headed along the coast there was a narrow plain that continued down to yet another big sugar production area, Flacq. Again I could not drive directly to this area, the arrangement of roads meant a lot of dog legs and turns. First you went past Goodlands, the nearest town to Calodyne, but one we always avoided as it was a congested, dirty, slightly seedy looking town. The only reason we would head down this way for shopping was to drop in at an incredible chocolate retailer. In a small modern house with a shop front next to the main road, the most delicate, intricate and delectable sweets were being made. We would make a slight diversion on the way home from work on a Friday and drop in to get a very expensive pick and mix. Starting with simple dark and light chocolate slabs, there were coffee and caramel infusions, maybe a little cream here or there, chocolates stuffed full of the essences of oranges, lemons, strawberries, cherries, the odd spice, even a hint of chilli, nuts and mints, and even exotic marmalade flavours, all in a myriad of different shapes and textures. She made larger blocks and incredible sculptures but we could only afford a small box of individual chocs. They would be carefully placed in the fridge when we returned home and we were allowed one treat after each main meal over the weekend.
But Goodlands itself was somewhere to avoid or get through as fast as possible. Beyond here you would see the first stream. It took me a few weeks to realise but there were no flowing streams in the north of the island. When I looked at the geological map I realised that the northern plain was made up of incredibly permeable volcanic rocks which soaked up all the surface water. The other plains were less recent and hence more consolidated deposits and river valleys had formed. So only when we reached the next village of Poudre d’Or did we cross our first bridge. The next town was Rivière du Rempart. It gave its name to the district within which we lived, but was tucked away in this corner of the island. Compared to most of the towns it had a very low profile, but I used to enjoy driving slowly through and watching the bustle of the little shops. It was difficult for me to see what nuance made this town nice and Goodlands a dump, but there was that gut feeling that could not be denied.