The Other Mauritius – Moka and Flacq

There were three or four roads that led out of the northern plains from here, all crossed a rough rocky plain that could hardly sustain cane fields, indeed in some places they never bothered and it was a dark scrubby dry woodland.  Beyond though was a massive plain, predominantly in the district of Flacq.  The main town here is Centre de Flacq; again not much more than a service centre for the villages and plantations of the district.  It did have a couple of colonial buildings of note in the town centre.

The extent of the plain was surprising.  Considering this was a small island, I always felt the road leading west from Centre De Flacq was heading out into prairie lands – the views were extensive – a breath holding amount of sugar cane blowing in the wind leading the eye to a series of small mountain ranges that gradually tapered together in the west.  But they never touched, the Flacq plain merged with the plain in Moka and on to the conurbations of Plaines Willhelm. But all the time you were rising, steadily but noticeably from near sea level in Centre de Flacq to over 400m in Moka.

With so many little mountain ranges around the island, there were pinch points where roads converged  One of these was at the top of the Flacq cane fields.  All traffic had to pass through a small town called Quartier Militaire – another wonderfully evocatively historical name for a place.  But I can find no reason why it might have been called that.  The only thing I can think of was that the town is about the dead centre of the whole island, and the most remote place from the coast.  Maybe this area was set up as an area to marshal the military, maybe the area where they trained.  It certainly was a good location to have an army to protect the whole island.  If any foreign troops tried to invade from any angle, soldiers could be trooped (downhill) with little effort in almost all directions to face battle.

West of Quartier Militaire was a small rural area of Moka which contained a few villages.  It was still full of sugar cane but was more windswept than many cane fields; it was at an altitude of over 450 m.  As well as a couple of old railway tracks and stations, and the paraphernalia of storing and transporting cane to the refineries, it was marked by a pretty little lake at Valetta.  The main road between Curepipe and Flacq skirted its northern side and pine trees provided little picnic sites around it.  I found these little inland picnic sites all over the island; a match for the parkland at the public beaches.  While they were nice little spots and it was good the government were making facilities for people to use, they always appeared rather heavy handed.  Picnic tables would be huge clunky concrete structures on a hard surface.  Fences were solid concrete posts with at best whole tree trunks forming the barrier.  Footpaths were tarmacced or concrete again.  Any naturalness had been stomped on by the need to produce services for hundreds of people to use them.  But Valetta’s little reservoir here was still a pleasant relief amongst the incessant cane fields.

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