This week in Mauritius has been an eventful one. Cyclone Berguitta is coming.
The weather is what is filling the news here with warnings broadcasted this morning, telling all and sundry that a state of Civil Emergency is in place and most businesses are advised to stay closed and people to remain indoors.
The Category 3 storm is named Berguitta and should give its biggest bang at midnight today (Wednesday 17th) will bring winds of up to 220 km/h – luckily Mauritius is protected from storm surges out of the Indian Ocean by its reefs that encircle most of the island. Rodrigues to the north is less well protected though and as the storm’s path includes danger warnings for the high grounds there, the people on the coast aren’t sure where to be – in the way of giant waves on the coast, or ferocious winds in the centre of the island.
Back to where I am, the traffic this morning was heavy as people raced around to get supplies from the few places that were open, and moved any debris that would become missiles once the winds picked up. At 16:00 today I took a peek outside – I’m in the north of the island on the coast. Some Chinese tourists were on the main beach of Grand Baie taking selfies (I assume) as the wind whipped them with sand. Weather warnings or not, this group of tourists weren’t going to let danger get in the way of a good Weibo update.
The lights have also flickered a couple of times in the last hour. I’ve got a torch, but like most I can survive in the dark, just not without a mobile connection or WiFi – it’s the only way to keep in touch and updated with this situation although the national broadcaster MBC has an excellent service in French, English and Creole, so no excuses that you didn’t understand what was being said.
As I hunker down for the weather bomb to hit I’m reminded of the other storm I lived through this week which was a paddle out to surf Tamarin Bay for the first time. The local surf crew are somewhat legendary here for protecting their reef break from people like me; though now you also have to navigate a South African surfing mafia when their numbers swell in the line-up.
Still, being respectful in any new line-up is the key to scoring some waves and for a couple of hours I snaffled my rides off the sets that were passed up and took to making the right gestures and noises to the locals paddling back into position after their scores.
‘Alors, d’où viens-tu?’
‘New Zealand bro. New Zealand
‘Ah bien. Il suffit de rester en arrière et ne pas gêner…’
So, with what was a best a veiled threat I did keep my distance while still getting a good morning of surf on this amazing left-hander in bath-warm water.
What could be better? Well, surviving this cyclone tonight, for one!