14 The Black Parrot
The entrance fee of Vallee de Mai National
Park was 50 rupees. There was a kiosk at
the parking lot selling decorations, featuring
or made of Coco de mer fruit alongside usual
run-of-the-mill souvenirs. We could also
buy real Coco de mer fruit but they weigh
up to 20 kg which make them a slightly awkward
souvenir. Furthermore all the nuts are under
the regulation of the National Park Authorities
and we can't take fallen fruits home without
Right in front of the park entrance, there was an exhibition of Coco de mer.
Most palm fruits are carried long distances floating on the sea but the Coco de mer fruit is too heavy to float. I picked one up and found it was true as it was so heavy that I needed both hands to lift it. I think Mr. Toson Shimazaki, a novelist and a poet, who wrote a poem of about a coconut, would not have had a flash of inspiration if he had found this fruit instead of a coconut. I thought if one of these fell on my head as I walked under the trees it would be instant death.
The male flower was also displayed. As my guidebook vividly described it "the Long thick phallic inflorescence" it was gigantic a 2 m long specimen.
The terrain was rough with many ups and downs. We heard unfamiliar clear high-pitched sounds like a song bird's call just as we started to climb. We looked though binoculars and found there were four Black Parrots. Despite their name they didn't look like parrots instead having slim bodies, which resembled Seychelles Blue Pigeons flitting about from tree to tree nearby. In addition they were eating fruit, further unusual behavior for parrots.
Some local people, who carried Coco de mer fruit probably to sell, were walking down from the opposite direction. A guided tour with several people came from behind. The guide said to us as he passed that we were lucky because the rain had stopped and the sun was starting to shine which gave us a good chance to listen to the rare Black Parrots.
We wanted to stay there longer but we had to be picked up by the taxi only 55 minutes after we had arrived. So we reluctantly left the park after having explored only a small portion of its 19.5 hectare area.
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