Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Day 6: Taking the bus...A whole adventure

I always wanted to take the bus in Mauritius. Somehow I think I just wanted to experience something "local". Fabrice always said that if he had a choice, he would rather rent a car than risk his life taking public transport, but given how most Mauritians drive, I don't think a car is  necessarily a safer option.  

On a previous visit, a friend of the family had more or less fulfilled my wish and we took the bus from Port Louis to Grand Baie, but it was air-conditioned and rather "modern" (compared to the average Mauritian bus). From my journey I don't remember anything because it was so comfortable I fell asleep after 5 minutes...

The last time we went on holiday, we were actually forced to take public transport, and considering there had been fatal accidents a few weeks before, getting on one of those buses was really scaring me. On one occasion, a driver lost control and couldn't stop because of an issue with the brakes. The result: 10 people died. A few days later, two other buses caught fire on the road, but fortunately there were no casualties. A few weeks after that, one of the bus door just "fell down" right onto to road...  The common point? All these buses belonged to the CNT (National Transport Corporation). From what I heard when I was there, some buses were not inspected regularly, and some didn't even pass any technical inspections. 
One thing to be aware of is that most buses in Mauritius are imported and reconditioned, so in the end  you have little chance to travel in a "new" bus.
The picture speaks for itself
You can imagine that the last thing I wanted to do this time was to take the bus! But as we didn't have a car the first  few days and really had to move around, we had no choice. 

All I  can say is that you'd better hold on to your seats, especially when the bus turns! The day we were finally getting our rental car, we had to take the bus from Plaine Magnien to Curepipe (1 hour trip). We took the "Curepipe Express". In fact it meant that the driver was going as fast as possible, and stopped to pick up passengers, trying to be the first to do so (It's like he wouldn't let the bus behind overtake him ...). And because it was the "Express" bus, he kept shouting "Go, go, go, hurry up, it's the Curepipe Express!! As soon as a passenger was on the first step,  the driver would restart straight away. 

There was overtaking from every direction, even in the bends, some cars were coming in front of us and there was so little space between them and the bus that my heart started racing. 

Mauritians are used to this kind of driving, it's normal for them, but I was on the front row, and a bit panicked (my kids loved the journey though!). I tried to film with my phone, but I failed to capture something spectacular, like our bus, overtaking another bus, in a bend with another oncoming bus (I really thought it was my last trip).

Once we picked up our rental car, we had to drive behind buses, breathing the black smoke coming out of them, or witnessing another incident: The entire windshield falling on the road...

Sure you don't see that in Ireland or France!