8 A night with tenrecs
Seven O'clock in the evening when we were
about to go out for dinner we saw a tenrec
at the front pass of the inn. This thorny
insectivore with a pointed muzzle was a little
smaller than a cat and had been introduced
from Madagascar as food. This animal had
also been introduced in the Comoros, Il de
la Reunion and the Mauritius. While we hurried
away to our room to have a camera it disappeared
and there was a cat instead. This cat seemed
to have scared the tenrec away.
We went to a restaurant up the road but it closed. When we went back to the inn, to our surprise, more than a ten plus tenrecs foraged around, shoving dead leaves. Some were large while others were small. We shone our flash torch to see them clearly and, surprisingly enough, they weren't perturbed by this light. But when we began to take pictures they were frightened by the flashes and scattered into the bush although a few were "frozen like a deer in the headlights".
We drove to a restaurant La Fontaine. A waitress pointed to an empty table and said something. Although I couldn't catch I guessed she meant to say sit there so we sat at the table. When the waitress came to take an order I couldn't catch what she said so I said "Pardon?" This time she said "Something to drink?" in English. I assumed she spoke French at first. Looking around we found almost all customers were western tourists and they spoke in French. But as we don't look French I didn't expect them to speak to us in French. The dishes were fancy and the atmosphere was open and fashionable but the service was slow probably because the restaurant was crowded and the waitress was a long time in bringing the bill when I asked for it. Over all, the restaurant left something to be desired. We ate palm bud salad, a small hamburger steak as hors d'oeuvres and chicken curry in Creole style, grilled meat in Creole style, sweet instant coffee (disgusting) and iced tea with strong lemon flavor almost like lemonade at 205 rupee. It was a typical tourist trap.
When we came back to our inn there were still two tenrecs feeding there.
Somebody told us that flying foxes were kept in a cage only five minutes walk from our inn, so we visited the house and saw five Seychelles Flying Foxes from outside as the gate was closed. Another day I saw a man cleaning around the gate and I asked him if we could see the bats closer and he let us in. Among the bats there was a mother that held a fist-sized small baby which seemed to be a day or two old. The baby hid its head under the mother's arm so we could not see its face.
It also rained hard on and off on January 2nd. We spent the day in the botanical garden and at the mudflat watching birds. Because most of the restaurants in the town were still closed we went to another take-away Chinese restaurant for lunch. They put us down as Chinese and spoke to us in Chinese.
At night we watched tenrecs and flying foxes near the inn.
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