We walked the last couple of kilometres feeling numb below the waist, and just plodding one foot in front of the other. In our minds, though, we were both quite chirpy. We came to another incised estuary, but were happy to turn inland this time as it was our stopping point for the day, after over 10 hours of slogging. We skirted along the edge of a wood above this river valley as we wanted to avoid the sugar plantation buildings just to the left of us. It brought us out at the track of the old railway, and we headed back along it parallel to the main road to the old plantation buildings at Savannah. The plantation itself was not working, but some of the buildings had been converted to intense stocksheds; chickens and pigs. The remaining parts of the plantation buildings had been preserved in part ruin and, like in many of these old estates, the surrounding land was landscaped as a pleasant open park, mainly palm trees.
The main coast road between Souillac and the airport cut through this area and we had arranged that Mike would head down this way after work in Port Louis. At this time though, half the country’s population would be trying to escape Port Louis, mostly on the same M1 as Mike, so we knew we might be in for quite a wait. We shared the remains of our provisions, biscuits, juice, squished banana. Jeremy, as was his wont when given a spare moment, would light up a cigarette. I spied a fast flowing stream running through the palms. It most probably rose in the hills of the tea estates some ten to twenty kilometres away and had been channelled to run down the side of the cane fields to this point before spilling in to the larger river we had met at the end of our walk. It was encased very neatly in granite walls and floor, the minimum resistance another reason why it was so fast flowing. With as much flexibility as I could muster I bent over and washed my hands in it. It was icy cold. I splashed it up over my greasy, sweaty, dirty neck and smeared my face. I then took off my trainers, pealed my wretched white socks from my clammy feet and swung my legs over the streams wall and into that fresh, bubbling, arctic balm. It instantly froze my feet, but I did not care. It was a good numbness that took away the pain of all the blisters, sore feet, overheating that the last thirty kilometres had put on to them. I lay back on the soft grass and smiled an enigmatic smile of one who is glad something challenging has been completed.
It was a good hour before Mike swung the pickup truck across the gravel of the plantation yard, we still had to head back to Gris Gris to grab the first vehicle, so we used the journey to try to explain to Mike the range of weird and wonderful secrets this coastline contained, and pick out along the way the corresponding land from the road side. Of course when we were in the midst of the Frenchies’ playground, taking photographs was the last thing on our minds, so now our stories of ring tailed lemurs, giant tortoise, gorgeous water features and luxurious holiday homes sounded a little like embellished travellers’ tales.