It’s a week of some of my favorite people. Yay! Please welcome my critique partner and good friend, Zee Monodee to the blog.
Hey everyone! Thanks Jessica for having me over today!
So, when Jessica asked me over, she told me that I’m always talking about Mauritius, but that people don’t really know the island – most of them would want a visual to go along with my rambling about my beautiful country.
Today thus seemed like the perfect opportunity to showcase Mauritius and go beyond the “white sandy beaches & turquoise lagoons” postcard image.
On today’s trip, I’m taking you inland to show you some of the natural and man-made wonders of the country.
Let’s start with Nature – check out this collage of locations
We’re going clockwise from top left:
The 7-colour Earth from Chamarel – this is located in the south-west of the island. A marvel of geology, the earth flows in dunes of seven different colours in this spot. Something in the volcanic composition of the land has turned it, over the years, into this kaleidoscope.
Rochester Falls – south of the island. Basalt rocks – formed when lava solidified – form the major rock composition of the land all over Mauritius, but these falls prove a marvel of natural origin. The hard basalt has been ‘cut’ into blunt, step-like shards over the years. This spot is accessible only by foot, after a long trek through woodland and steep ravine-type descents.
Trou aux Cerfs – this one is almost smack inland, and actually just a few miles from my house. Mauritius is of volcanic origin (exactly like Hawaii), and of course, we have volcano craters. This is one of the 3 craters on the island, the only one not filled with water, and all of them have been dormant for centuries (thank goodness! LOL). This one here is almost 2,000 feet in height, located in the coldest area of the country, aka my town, Curepipe. See the trail all around the crater? It’s been converted into a health trail for the town – hubby and I often go jogging there in the afternoons.
Salt beds in Tamarin – west coast, and where I have located the plot of Light My World. Tamarin is a coastal village known for its almost-year-round sun and low humidity. Consequently, salt is “harvested” there. These are enormous, shallow beds of rock where salt water is left to evaporate and a hard crystal layer of sea salt remains.
Let me now take you to the North, to one of our most visited locations – the Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens in Pamplemousses.
The castle here – depicting typical French colonial architecture – is called Le Château De Mon Plaisir and was built in the 18th century, and was the residence of French governor (and the main architect of Mauritius as we know it), Mahé de Labourdonnais. His intendant, a man named Pierre Poivre, decided to turn the castle’s grounds into a sort of world garden at the time. So he sourced plants from all over the French colonies – especially spice plants – and planted them all over the grounds. Combined with endemic species and other rare flora, the gardens remain one of the top botanical spots in the world to view hundreds of plant species all in one place.
The gardens are mainly known for the giant water lilies in its ponds (top right of the pic), and the ordered, peaceful grounds also carry the ruins of what used to be a sugar mill, as it was used back in the 18th and 19th centuries (bottom right of image).
Last but not least, I want to make you take a trip down the heritage houses we have here. I make a veritable tribute to them in Light My World, and one such house is the setting and backdrop for much of the second half of the story.
I based myself a lot on this dwelling – the Domaine des Aubineaux. It is actually located inland (stone’s throw from my parents’ place!) but for the sake of the story, I transposed it to the West coast.
Most of the houses of the upper class and “richer” landowners in the past used to resemble this one – of typical islander colonial structure, with a wide patio in front and at the back, tall French windows/doors opening onto the verandas, wood planks all over the house, and the decor and furniture something of a throwback to a forgotten era….
This house was built in 1817, and has been restored into a tea route museum (after being the family seat of a wealthy white family in the area) to better depict the forgotten age of colonial Mauritius.
More and more of these beautiful, heritage dwellings are going into derelict states or worse, getting torn down to make space for concrete. It’s something I believe we must preserve – I had the chance to know one such dwelling, which belonged to my maternal grandparents, but sadly, my kids will never get into one of these unless it’s been turned into a museum. A real shame…. Soon, they’ll be all forgotten, but I hope some memory of them will live on in my story….
So there you are – a quick tour of some ‘unheard of’ spots in Mauritius. I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip!
From Mauritius with love,
LIGHT MY WORLD
Book #2 in the Island Girls Trilogy
by Zee Monodee
It is a truth universally acknowledged that to find a prince, a girl has to kiss a few frogs along the way. But what happens when a modern-day princess comes across…an ogre?
So what if a girl has to kiss a few frogs to find her prince?
Tired of her Indian-origin mother’s relentless matchmaking, Diya Hemant is determined to find her Prince Charming on her terms. Armed with a definitive list of requirements, she is sure she’ll know her man when she meets him…
But looking and finding are two different things, especially on the tiny island of Mauritius…
When her path crosses surly British widower Trent Garrison’s, it’s hate at first sight. And though fate keeps pitting her against him, she’s certain he can’t be turned into a frog let alone a prince.
Can this modern-day princess overcome her own expectations and see beyond the ogre to the man beneath?
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The four of them walked in, and he reached out to press the ground floor button. She’d reached out, too, and their fingers brushed when they tried to hit the keypad.
A jolt went through his hand, and he jerked. She also pulled back, and her wide eyes met his, before she spun away. Her shoulder-length hair followed the swift move of her head, shielding her face. He thought he caught a hint of a blush on her cheeks, but couldn’t be sure.
Trent shoved the image of the faint rosy glow on her smooth cheeks out of his mind. What did it matter if she’d blushed?
She stepped to a corner of the wide lift carriage, and started to brush her fingers in her dark locks as she peered at her reflection in the mirror on the back panel.
She stood taller than Matthew today. Strange. He trained his gaze over her tiny figure, and noticed the stiletto heels on her shoes. Women’s lethal weapons. Those pointed ends could probably skewer a man’s guts with a single kick.
He slowly peered up, along her bare legs and the sheer layers of fabric in the clothes she wore. Her skirt, with its uneven edges, seemed shorter on the right side than on the left, baring her legs from the knee down. Her sleeveless blouse resembled tiers of something light and gauzy assembled in a haphazard way. Almost like a fairy costume. Chunky beads and metal jewellery ran around her neck and on her earlobes, and a large, metal-and-beads belt hung low on her hips.
From time to time, when she raised her arm to fiddle with her hair, the blouse ran up and bared a hint of her belly, the light in the elevator catching on something metallic.
Blimey! She had a navel piercing. He’d never have pinned her for such kind of hoodlum. And today, she’d dressed like a…. He didn’t know what, exactly.
“Sure is hot today,” he said under his breath. Maybe she’d dressed thus because of the humid summer weather. Women wore skimpy clothes on this tropical island, from what he’d gathered.
She whirled around to face him, her eyes narrowing as she inspected him from head to toe. “Not the ideal weather to wear a stuffy jacket and tie.”
He peeped down at his suit and trousers and frowned. They were his work clothes, for God’s sake. What did she expect him to wear? A flower-printed, open shirt baring his hair-speckled chest for every woman and gay man to ogle? She had some nerve to comment on his clothing, when she wore next to nothing.
“Isn’t it a little early for a party?”
She pursed her full, pink lips, and balled her hands into fists at her sides, as if she were refraining from slapping him.
Like she didn’t give in to the urge. He still remembered the slap from the day before.
Interesting perspective how a passionate woman lurked underneath the brash exterior. And that would get him where, exactly? Get a grip, Garrison.
“I’m on my way to a business appointment, if you must know,” she said, breaking through his internal conversation with his libido.
Business? And dressed like a…a woman out to snare a man? Yeah, right. He raised his eyebrows. “Doesn’t exactly scream professional wardrobe, if you ask me.”
“Well, who asked you?”
Point taken, he granted, and winced, careful not to let her see he’d conceded here.
She seemed oblivious to his reaction, and from the flush highlighting her face with a golden glow, she’d fired up for an argument. Bloody hell, did the girl ever let a quarrel drop?
She shrugged her hand in front of him, as if swatting his words away.
“A stuffy Briton like you wouldn’t understand. It’s about image. We look just like our company. Young, trendy, and not afraid to take risks.”
Trent swept his gaze over her again, and noticed the many earrings on her earlobes, and the diamond flashing on the side of her nose. “It’s a metal detector that’d take risks with you, with so many piercings.”
She huffed and clenched her jaw.
The movement offset the delicate line of her jaw and her cheekbones, and the anger in her dark, coffee-brown eyes made them sparkle—
“This is fashion, mate. You’re too old to understand.”
Really? She had to have another think coming.
“What I don’t understand is this,” he said. “Did they run out of fabric when they made your skirt?”
Her face went red. “You—”
The little voice brought him back to earth, and he peered at his son.
Trent blinked. The boys stood in the parking lot, while he and Diya were still in the opened lift, his foot blocking the door.
Stunned silence had descended onto the carriage, which jerked him out of the sparring verbal duel he’d engaged with his spunky neighbour. How to bring back some semblance of courtesy between them now? He nodded outside. “After you.”
They locked eyes for a brief second, before she stormed out, ignoring his attempt at peacemaking. He moved out of the way when it seemed like she’d grind her pointed heel into his shoe, and watched with amusement in his heart while she stomped her feet repeatedly on the asphalt as she walked toward her SUV.
“Careful,” he said. “You might break a heel.”
Zee Monodee ~ Stories about love, life, relationships… in a melting-pot of culture
Zee is an author who grew up on a fence – on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she’d stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.
From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.
This particular position became her favourite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing – her heroines all sit ‘on a fence’, whether cultural or societal, in today’s world or in times past, and face dilemmas about life and love.
Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee is a degree holder in Communications Science. She is a head-over-heels wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween son, best-buddy-stepmum to a teenage lad, an incompetent domestic goddess, eternal dreamer, and an absolute, shameless bookholic. When she isn’t penning more stories and/or managing the Ubuntu line at Decadent Publishing, you can bet you’ll find her with her nose in her tablet, ‘drinking in’ a good book.
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