Rodrigues is an an eclectic and idyllic island. It’s about 350 miles east of Mauritius and has equal parts African and French influence. It has a creole feeling that is reminiscent of New Orleans.
After a long and intense passage, the first thing we did was let off some steam with a few beers. We actually ended up drinking a few beers for our first 2 full days in Rodrigues and making some new friends along the way.
The population of the whole island is only 40,000 and we anchored in Port Mathurin, the only real town in Rodrigues. It’s an early rising place and the streets are bustling by 8am. Each corner intersection has a police officer wearing a very proper uniform and hat hand directing traffic. There is a good mix of pedestrian, car, and motorcycle traffic.
There’s one bakery in town and it pumps out fresh baguettes every morning for 5.7 rupees each (about $.16). There are around a dozen or so ‘snack shops’ that sell sandwiches with things like spiced chicken, liver and onions, sautéed porn, and curried fish inside of the baguettes. There’s also a couple shops that make fresh pizzas. We ate a lot of pizzas.
It’s the type of place where you make friends by just walking down the street. We made one such friend after breakfast one day, a gentleman named Louis. Louis is originally from Mauritius but lived in Seattle for 30 yeas, and all his children still live in the US. He owns a crafts shop in Rodrigues selling handmade goods to tourists. We told Louis about our boat troubles on the way over and about how were were going to have to fly to Mauritius to have new tangs made because we had read online that there is not machine shop on Rodrigues. He told us that he knew and exceptional machinist and who he introduced us to the following morning.
A couple days later we had new tangs in our hands and we installed them on the boat later that same afternoon. We still had repairs that would need to be done in Mauritius but everything else could wait until after we sailed there.
The people of Rodrigues don’t drink much, but there was one establishment in town where the locals who enjoy beer and rum congregate, and that’s the pork shop. It’s owned by a first generation Chinese-Mauritian and in addition to the booze also serves a variety of Chinese style pork. The clientele is strictly male, a bit rough, and very lively. We spent a lot of time here.
One night we made friends with the Filipino crew of a container ship that was delivering supplies from Mauritius. They invited us back to their ship to party. I thought there would be some sort of rules about bringing random people back to this huge ship but no one seemed to mind. The guys were awesome and the ship had plenty of beer and a karaoke machine.
The interior of the island is very hilly and provides amazing views of the surrounding lagoon and reef. I rented a motorbike and spent a couple of days exploring.
There are several small restaurants and inns nestled in the mountains, and I spent my only night off the the boat at one called Chez Jeanette. We had an aperitif of rum punch and corn fritters, then served ourselves from a buffet before eating around a communal table on the veranda. We had gratin, sausages, stewed chicken, spicy octopus, sautéed squash, rice, beans and salad. It was the best meal I’ve had in a long time.
After about 9 days on Rodrigues we’d recovered from the passage and got the boat back in working order. Early on the morning of 9/30 we set sail for Mauritius along with our two new French crew, Remy and Eduard.