Mauritius, a tiny island measuring 65km by 45km located in the Indian Ocean to the west of Madagascar, was an interesting place to visit as Scotland moves on towards September's vote on independence. With a population of some 1.3 million, since independence in 1968 it has developed a highly successful economy based on tourism, textiles, sugar, and financial and IT services. For example, in the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom Mauritius is ranked as having the 8th most free economy in the world, and it has one of the richest economies of sub-Saharan Africa.
The island is probably most famous for the dodo, a friendly, flightless bird the size of a large turkey which was hunted to extinction by the crews of visiting ships within 150 years of the island's discovery by the Portuguese in 1505. Subsequent human occupation destroyed the island's forests and many more species became extinct as alien species were introduced. This spectacular little bird, the red cardinal fody, a type of weaver bird, is one of the introduced species.
We arrived home to a blanket of snow, which fell on Saturday morning but was almost gone at low levels by this morning. In the time we were away, we missed three fine days, the weather during the rest being little different from December and early January's.
It was good to have a break from the west coast weather, but it's great to be home again.
Many thanks to the Raptor for the photos.