Sometimes we planned things to go the way we want, and at the end of the day, we are left disappointed by the fact that they didn’t meet our expectations. And sometimes, when you least expect things to happen, you are just taken by the moment. This time the hike was on the COVID-free island of Rodrigues. The hilly Rodrigues island is the sister island of Mauritius and is nestled in the southwestern part of the Indian Ocean.
From the beginning, I was pretty excited about the unexpected hike because I wanted to leave my studio apartment and the work pressure that I had. I simply wanted to whisk away in the wild. I met a local acquaintance who knew the hiking trail leading to one of the island’s most incredible coves, notably Trou d’Argent. So we texted and agreed to meet the next day for the hike. I woke up early, and it rained. I feared that we might have to postpone the hike, but thankfully we kept an optimistic mindset and decided to hike despite the rain. I got to the meeting point on time, and waited for the local ‘guide friend’. He came, and we shook hands, then we took the rugged path, where occasionally we were greeted by the ubiquitous cows, goats, and sheep. I think that’s the beauty of the island. You just see animals roaming freely, and enjoying their time grazing on the grass like they are literally living in the moment.
It’s peaceful here and wild. But I have to admit that there is the not-so-pleasant side of the island too that I’ve noticed since I arrived here. As we walked on the coast of the Mourouk beach we saw lots of plastic bottles, cups, and a firepit in the middle of a walking track with woods still burning. And it was quite ironic to see plastic garbage on the pristine beach when the local authority has banned the use of plastic bags on the island.
While It’s always a bliss to enjoy the gift of nature, we also need to learn how to protect it and keep it clean. Well, the same I have noticed with the Mauritian beaches just after the weekend. It’s sad to leave our trash on the beach, and pretend that we were not even there. Our ecosystem is blissful and sometimes indescribable. It is by far the only livable sanctuary in the universe that we all tend to forget. Not so long, my attention got caught up by a stray dog with a black muzzle, which reminded me of my passed-away dog. That dog I once saw at the bus stop eating grass, I knew she was hungry so I gave her some biscuits since then she never stopped following me. This time she saw me and accompanied us throughout the whole hiking trail. I was actually quite surprised to meet her along the beach, that was kind of unexpected. So we were now three of us walking through the rugged path, where sometimes we would encounter the blissful views of the ocean, and sometimes by blood-sucking mosquitoes that wouldn’t leave us.
The best part so far was the omnipresence of the crashing waves. It’s one of those moments that make you feel insignificant before nature. Just in front of the fringing reefs, inside the shallow lagoon, there were some local octopus-catchers hunting for the Octopus cyanea or dubbed as ‘the big blue octopus’, which inhabits the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and can grow up to 80 cm! But we also saw plenty of fishes like the Shoemaker spinefoot, and Flathead Mullet in many of the tide pools. And sometimes, we would see the gorgeous grey and white sea birds soaring up in the blue sky, which I felt a sense of liberation. I was experiencing a deep sense of gratitude towards nature at that moment.
And as we were getting closer to the hidden cove, the path was becoming more challenging, and sometimes we had to climb elevated terrains. At one point we had to pass through a calcarenite pathway, where we were able to see the up-close view of the untamed waves. I must admit, It wasn’t really pleasant to cross the path wrought with the coral spikes, and the sun was always burning our skin. And to make it worse, the high humidity was on the rendez-vous. But as my guide-friend said,‘c’est pareil comme il faut souffrir pour être belle.’ Basically, you have to suffer to be beautiful. So it was like we had to go through all of the hurdles to enjoy the pristine beauty of the well-kept cove. So I couldn’t really complain much cause I knew he was right.
With a final push, we eventually made it to Trou d’Argent cove, which normally takes up to three and a half hours, but we proudly made it within an hour and a half. Needless to say, the staggering view of the coraline cove just took my breath away. It was so serene, and secluded, just a hidden treasure, where you wouldn’t mind being stranded in for eternity. We spotted colorful fishes, and then there were the daunting crashing waves again. The dog went just under the shade to lay down peacefully. And we were not the exception. We kicked off our hiking shoes and laid down on the white sand while soaking up the refreshing sea breeze. It was an amazing feeling to be in this slice of the remote paradise, where all you can hear was the crashing waves.
It was not just a sound therapy, but a feast for the eyes, think the contrasting color of the green casuarina trees, the fine white sand, and turquoise blue sea. We were simply basking in the awe-inspiring view of our surroundings, and at the same time, the jagged coves were protecting us from the southeast trade winds. At that very moment, I understood why Prince William and Kate Middleton chose this island to escape from the frenetic world at the time when the prince was working for the Royal Geographical Society. I think one of the perks of slow travel is that you get to immerse completely with the place, and in a way, it’s a kind of healing therapy to your senses.
For me, time seemed to suspend, and I couldn’t ask for more. It was so peaceful and rejuvenating to live in the moment. It was just a perfect remedy to my anxiety from the COVID-19 pandemic right on a COVID-free island.