Tuesday 18 June 2013

Sugar, Sucre, its everywhere!

One of my usual tricks is to find out as much as I can about a place I visit, either before I go or whilst I am there, Mauritius being no exception.
So I had already done a lot of homework about the culture, the people, the place etc but whilst visiting the Bagatelle Mall of Mauritius in the first few days I came across two books, "A new comprehensive history of Mauritius, from the beginning to this day" in two volumes, the first from Ancient times to the birth of Parliament and the second "From British Mauritius to the 21st Century" inside a treasure trove of information, especially the earlier book, from the Dutch settlers in the 16th Century (not very successful it must be said) to the French and finally the British.
Which brings me on to Sugar or Sucre if you're French, the island is riddled with sugar cane, from top to bottom, its everywhere, in the valleys, on the hills, even in back gardens.
They even have a Museum of Sugar Website which by the way is a very interesting day out, I went on a Sunday, very early I was the the first there and had the place to myself.
It is located in an old sugar factory and I was very interested in the methodology of extracting the sugar and the by product Bagasse, which is still used today to provide power to the island (in the harvest season it must be said) which is a carbon neutral fuel source, its a shame they cant use Bagasse permanently to deal with their energy problem , anyway I digress.
So, sugar is everywhere, it has even shaped the architecture of both the plantations, every processing factory has a huge chimney, where the workers lived their lives in the shadow of the stack, and the harbour of Port Louis where huge sugar silos dominate the basin.
It is clear that any visitor to Mauritius can not notice the sugar, but take some time to visit the museum and learn about how it has shaped the island, and the people.

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