The Phantoms of Port-Louis (Mauritius Island)

In the shade of a bougainvillea, the ocean was crying hot tears
The night had fallen like a trapeze artist, violently, on the sands of the island
Victoria pineapples piled on the stalls like rain-soaked soldiers,
The voices of the merchants still echo in me.

Tamarind juice is not as refreshing as fresh coconut water
Drunk under the giant banyan trees at the Pointe des Régates in Mahébourg.
In this country too the mountains are proud, they rise from the cane fields
And spit a dark smoke on a sparkling sky;

At 100 m from the ground, I took a zip line between the Mourouk valley and Rodrigues.
I dived alone into the ocean and found myself face to face with the angels of the sea:
A leopard triggerfish and a standard fish were swimming among the corals.
The sun was burning my conscience, you were watching me from the shore

I passed out in the middle of the ocean and you dove in to retrieve me
But you couldn’t handle the current so I opened my eyes
And I clutched hard at one of the rocks of the Pointe d’Esny,
The day was fading, it was getting dark, I shook my hair full of sand and salt

The sugar factory behind the hotel was belching out gusts of black smoke
The ghost of Queen Victoria entered our room and frowned.
But I was not afraid, you were in my arms, and the light began to flicker
Then the ghost went back to haunt other lovers and hide in the government hotel

Traveler, wake up, I’m taking you on a tour of the ghosts of Mauritius
In the Blue Penny Museum, there are more rare stamps than I would ever have for you
Will you allow me to steal them after dark?
I want to steal Queen Victoria’s Two Pence

I introduce you to other ghosts that haunt Maurice, you probably know them,
Her name is Virginia. It is she who in the novel that bears her name drowned in the ocean
For fear of taking off her heavy dress in front of the man she loved
And who was waiting for her on land before the storm

Traveler, can we be happy and not be damned like the ghosts of this island?
I am a simple person, I just want you,
A little sand and poetry
And if the ghosts bother you, I’ll know how to make them go away

The statue of another ghost, Mahé de Labourdonnais,
Watches from the entrance of the port, around the place d’armes.
Duke of Edinburgh Avenue is lined with Creole houses,
It is disfigured by the windows of the banks.

I would like to visit the museum of photography. µ
Let’s try to lose all these ghosts thanks to the snapshots.
God that Maurice was beautiful on this sepia of the 19th century
And that I would like to go back in time to take you there

Traveler I love you, I wrote it elsewhere
« Our relationship never stopped showing more and more ambiguous poses.
Maybe that’s what love is, photographs that evolve,
Until their ink ends up in a museum?

Mauritius was the first country in the southern hemisphere to have access to photography.
The last ghosts I take you to are two photography enthusiasts.
They are the ones who built this museum with their hands. See this daguerreotype? It belonged to the founder of the museum, Tristan Bréville.
Today, its ghost and that of his wife are only seen by photography lovers.

Would you allow me to take a picture of you, even from a distance, under the mist, behind the filaos?
A horse just passed by at full speed, you turned around, and I captured your smile.
The Port Louis theater has closed, but the street dancers continue to entertain the gallery.
The balconies are made of wrought iron, large women’s hands grip them to watch the parade

Let’s melt away in the smoke and the crowd my love, and if there’s too much noise and smell,
Let’s breathe in the spices near the Chinatown mosque where businessmen in suits and ties defy the ravaging sun.
Let’s make love on top of the citadel overlooking Port Louis.
No one will dare meet us at the top of the steps, most tourists stop well before.

But just as I was crying because you were making love to me on the rocks, a light cleared the night
And a deep voice began to tell a story in Mauritian Creole.
I snuggled up to you, still ravaged by desire, and we listened to the storyteller’s tale,
As he passed his flashlight across the sky like a madman clapping his hands

Far from the Château du Réduit where the President of the Republic of Mauritius sleeps, accompany me to the botanical garden,
Let’s go and admire the cassava from Brazil brought by the ships that called at Port Louis.
The 18th century brought pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon to the island
But my favorite smell is your chest.

We had tea near an ornamental flowering plant,
Behind the model of a boat and our eyes drowned in the August sun.
I took your hand, my fingers caressed yours between the alleys of palms, laurels and ferns.
The bougainvilleas seemed to laugh, or was it the sound of the wind?

In the castle of Mon Plaisir, the personalities were each invited to plant a tree:
Indira Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, François Mitterrand…
And you, my angel, which tree would you plant if you could find it years later?
In the black stone lotus that faces the castle, it is the ashes of former Prime Minister Ramgoolam.

You see my love, life is short, let’s not waste it away from each other,
Close your eyes I’ll take you to Port Louis, to meet some ghosts who lived too fast
But who leave us with the beauty of their island and poignant memories.
Let us be worthy and love each other madly, until the dead take us away from the bougainvillea.

I stared at an orchid all morning waiting for you to wake up, I didn’t dare wake you.
When I heard you quiver, I slipped into your arms and loved you for a long time
I think you could hear our sighs all the way to the bridge over the river in the botanical garden.
A serin made its melodious song and the swallows started to flock over our hotel.

We went out for one last walk, thanking nature for being what it is,
The lacquered trees sparkled and reflected a divine light in our pupils,
The ghost of Labourdonnais waved lightly at us from the water lily pond
I caressed a fig tree, a badamier and a Ceylon cinnamon tree.

These trees felt our love and moved aside as we passed.
We left the park for the village surrounded by the cane fields of the old farms.
The atmosphere had changed and reflected the slavery past of the place.
We lit candles in the church of St. Francis in memory of the ghosts of Port Louis, and then I grabbed your arm, took you away from the Devil, away from the Gods of Port Louis

The sun and salt, the morning swim made my hair ripple,
You tried to comb it with your fingers without hurting me, but it was a complex mission and we ended up waiting for the evening on the beach with Mauritian wine behind a traveler’s tree (It is called the traveler’s tree because its stems are a water reserve).
The fan-shaped foliage is used to cover houses. The phantoms had left the island.

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