We’d started to realise that these areas of Pas Geometrique were being used by the Plantation Owners as a pleasure land for their own recreation. In our dumb way we also eventually grasped that the reason certain members of the civil service wanted us to make this the pressure zone was to ferret around trying to find out what exactly was going on , possibly with the idea of some land grab to get a piece of the action. Indeed we already knew one area of this clifftop was scheduled to be developed as yet another of these spa hotels. This was not necessarily solely an ethnic issue – the Hindu dominated government moving in on the Frenchies territories. In fact the Frenchies; having lost political power to the English centuries ago, seemingly loosening their grip even more after independence, and with the decline of the sugar industries now hanging on to the remains of their real estate, looked like a spent force. But you do not manage and dominate industry in a country for several centuries without learning a few tricks, and many of these families had got involved with the property developments and high class resorts all over the island. If anything they were more dominant now that at the height of the sugar plantations.
In the shadows there was a slight movement; it looked like quite a large creature was lurking under the trees. As we moved along the path in its direction, it noticed us and bolted – a deer. Its movement sparked three more deer to follow. So the high fence was to keep them in (shame about the rusted hole in the fence that we had found, though). A thought played across my mind at this point. What if the fence were not just to keep deer in? These eccentric millionaires might have a whole menagerie of animals….. maybe carnivores too. Jeremy did his best to calm me down, showing how the well clipped grass tracks here would not look like this if lions and tigers were in the compound, unless the owners could be happy to lose a few groundsmen once in a while, and the fences would have been in much better repair.
We headed back to the clifftops to resume the survey and after half an hour or so ended on a headland topped by a small shelter. We decided to lunch here on this remarkable spot and we reflected on both how gorgeous the landscape was here and how different it was to the rest of Mauritius. The lagoon was hardly present – more like a series of rock pools at the foot of the cliffs, and the full force of the ocean roared in against the beach. The woodland on top had a magical quietness, so unlike most of this densely populated island. Looking ahead the cliffs seemed to soften a little and we could see some sandy beach pummelled by rollers, and in the spray, we could definitely make out quite a substantial structure. We hoped that we could walk the beach here and once on the sand would make faster progress. We had had enough diversions already and the curious nature of what we had seen had already caused us enough surprises for one day. Also, we had to make a lot more progress to reach our expected rendezvous before sundown.