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Porlwi by Nature: An encounter of the third kind

by Benedicte de Comarmond

Porlwi by Nature: An encounter of the third kind

Port Louis, Friday 01 December, 7p.m. My first stage leads me to La Citadelle. I join the queue of people waiting to take the shuttle to the historic monument. The lights are already visible from below and one can feel the excitement in the air. Up there, some inquisitive visitors are flocking around the “solar jar”; they are very interested to see how this solar-powered light works out. The music playing from within the fortifications draws me into another world.

Before heading back down, I stop by the bar overlooking the city. You can sit there and chat for hours while enjoying the view. On the way down the Sebastopol descent, a surprising journey – called “Photosynthesis” – awaits me. This light path created by AC3 and Armand Gachet is as fascinating as it is intriguing. It guides the visitors on their way downhill, gently bringing them back to reality.

Photosynthesis - Porlwi By Nature - Live in Mauritius Island
(c) Eric Lee

It is well past 8p.m. and I am getting a bit peckish. I therefore make a halt at the Food Market and choose a wrap from Manoushé that I eat sitting on the sidewalk. Food is something that brings people together, as exemplified by the warm and lively atmosphere around the booths and tables set up in the middle of the road (which has been turned into a pedestrian path for the occasion). I take a few sips of water before continuing on.

Porlwi Food Market

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I keep my eyes wide open to fully enjoy the show in Bourbon Street. Particularly in view are the beautiful floral windows created by Sanjeeyann Paleatchy and the green architectural touches added by the Collectif LESS. There is also street art and it’s a pleasure watching the artists busy completing their works. I continue on my way down to the harbour to the rhythm of musical performances featuring instruments such as the didgeridoo, drums and Chinese violin.

Street art - Porlwi by Nature - Live in Mauritius
(c) Eric Lee

After reaching the waterfront, I walk down to Ilot Grenier and enter the contemporary art exhibition, quickly falling under the spell of the first work on display: beautifully lit plants floating in zero gravity. At the military hospital, I take the time to enjoy the performance by the Joseph brothers (including the famous salt choreography) and a hypnotic art installation, “Beyond the Visible”.

I feel the need to come back to my senses after such exciting experiences and continue my journey towards the open-air cinema. Sitting comfortably at “Kas Enn Poz”, I tell myself that this installation should be a year-round feature! I take the opportunity to watch a preview of excerpts from the Dittberner brothers’ documentary, Mystic Mauritius. I discover another Mauritius, which is even more beautiful than what I pictured in my memories.

The final stretch leads me to Le Caudan Waterfront. In addition to the restaurants and cafes that normally contribute to the lively atmosphere of the place, I come across street performers, including some strange animals perched on their “green” swings. But what really catches my attention is the Nature Cocoon, a kind of bamboo hut which offers a sound and visual immersion experience created by The Collective, Current Projects and electrocaïne.

Nature cocoon - Porlwi by Nature 2017 - Live in Mauritius
(c) Eric Lee

Lying down on the ground and surrounded by strangers, this last experience is the perfect conclusion to my “Porlwi by Nature” adventure: a voyage into another world, an encounter of the third kind.

Epilogue

Port Louis, Sunday 03 December, noon. I am back in the capital with a group of schoolchildren attending a workshop at the top of La Citadelle, sponsored by the ENL Group. After a guided tour of the Granary building, we get on a large bus that takes us halfway there. We still have some way to climb and the children complete the walk in good spirit.

There is a general feeling of relief when we reach the top. We form two groups and while one group takes a visit of La Citadelle to learn more about the history of the monument and the city, the other one joins in the “solar jar” workshop. We all show much enthusiasm in making our own solar-powered lantern and learning how it works.

After participating in both activities, the children seem to have been won over, each of them taking back home an environmentally-friendly light with their first name written on it. They can place these lights under their Christmas tree to show the way to Santa Claus!

Solar jar Citadelle - Porlwi By Nature - Live in Mauritius - 2

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