Questions Enigmas Mysteries (2)
Intriguing coloured land
Evelina Rioukhina, UNECE
Even if you travel a thousand miles, it may only
be a step
There are many really intriguing places on the island of Mauritius. For a number of reasons, the whole island could be considered one large enigma. The feeling that you are in a mysterious place starts as soon as you arrive. After hours and hours of flying over the ocean, the plane reduces altitude and makes a turn over a spectacular three-peaked mountain, The Three Mamelles, which at dawn are violet. The feeling is just fantastic. This is the first image of Mauritius, the entry ticket to a land full of mysteries, legends and superstitions.
What are they? If there is a universal theory, that everybody or everything has a twin, this is the place to discover it. The island is India in miniature, with a blend of China, England, France, and a significant touch of Africa. It is like a huge ship which started its way from the African coast, in the direction of India and China, passing somehow through Europe, near the coasts of France and England, and which is still travelling somewhere through the centuries and continents, being lost in the midst of the Indian Ocean. The palette of places, the palette of faces which are so familiar to all three continents. There is, for example, a mountain which is an exact, astonishing copy of the Matternhorn in Switzerland. There is a rock, Coin de Mire, which alone presents a breathtaking picture and which looks like a copy of Mt. Aiguille in France, of Table Mountain in South Africa; with only the upper part rising majestically from the ocean while the rest of the mountain remains below the water.
In any case, the mountains and rocks, although not high, are fascinating and each is the mystery in itself, its shape, form or geological structure. At the top of the Pieter Both Mountain, for example, there is a stone held up in equilibrium (looking like a head balancing on the shoulders), but in constant danger of tumbling down, apparently a natural phenomenon. A nineteenth- century legend predicted the end of the island when the stone falls down (which by some sources was expected by the year two thousand). Until now, despite of the most destructive hurricanes in 2000-2001, the head is still on the shoulders.
Not only legends fill this land, the belief says that this is an island of superstitions, the strongest sorcery and other miraculous events of a different nature, including the blessing by the water of the Sacred Lake or healing of the heaviest diseases by the touching of the shrine of Père Laval, which is considered as the Lourdes of the Indian Ocean, not to mention real sorcery by different marabous (among the most powerful in the world as regards black and white witchcraft, perhaps due to the power of different energetic zones, soil and plants growing in such areas. I visited some of these marabous and was impressed by what I saw, but this is perhaps not appropriate material for UN Special).
The soil is rich not only with minerals. It possesses miraculous qualities and it is also a treasury of precious stones, especially white and yellow diamonds (the biggest and the most pure in the world). Mauritius keeps many secrets of pirates who were looking for diamonds and hiding discovered treasures in mountain caves. These secrets still attract adventurers who spend many years seeking for the pirates treasures in the hills or try to find the diamonds on their own.
The list of secrets and mysteries would not be complete without mentioning a phenomenon of fauna, the huge flightless bird Dodo, scientifically Raphus cucullatus, which is now known all over the world as a symbol of the island. This huge bird (species were reported as from 13 up to 27 kg!) unfortunately, became extinct in the 17th century. Many legends associated with this famous bird are popular until now, and questions are still raised: e.g. why this bird appeared on this island and nowhere else in the world (it is to be noted that a similar bird was reported in neighbouring islands Réunion and Rodriques, and similar bird but of much smaller size was discovered on one of the islands in the Pacific).
Having described all the above, each of which deserves separate treatment in the rubric of unexplained or mysterious phenomena, I would like to describe one of these, and my own experience and feelings about one of the most strange and intriguing places I have ever visited.
One day I decided to take an extensive journey across the whole island by starting from the Coin du Mire to Chamarel, from the low land through middle land to the highland area. From marvellous white sand velvet beaches my way lay through fields, then hills, and subsequently through thick green, flourishing forests with luxurious vegetation, a real jungle. Waterfalls provided a spectacular setting. Suddenly in the middle of this green jungle forest or gar- den I saw what seemed a completely dead area: a bare oval shaped space with very regular borders. I was particularly impressed by how regular the borders were. It gave off a strange sensation. I suddenly imagined how this place could look from the sky, the impact of some mysterious external force.
Drawing closer I saw distinctive dunes of land or very condensed sand and very distinct colours. It is in fact called the coloured land or land of seven colours brown, violet-purple, green, blue, red, ochre and yellow. I was intrigued by the formation of the earth in a form, similar to dunes but more dense in structure. One of the explanation is that this area is saturated with different volcanic mineral ashes.
Standing on these dunes, on this coloured earth I had a strange, unpleasant feeling of anxiety. There were several other persons around me, all of whom, I noticed, felt the same sensation The view also was impressive, breathtaking, gorgeous, magnificent. I can use all sorts of epithets to describe the scene, but there was something more, some- thing strange which can be best described as fast pulsation with a presence also of anxiety, almost of fear. On the other side of this circle I saw a small group of young people with measuring instruments similar to oscillographs. I advanced closer to look what they were measuring. They were geologists from South Africa and they measured the electro-magnetic or electro-energetic values, which they willingly showed to me. In fact, the arrow in the instruments showed higher values when the instrument was inside this zone, e.g. on the sand, and the arrow showed less or zero value when the instrument was outside, e.g. in the area of vegetation. They explained, but as at that time I could not imagine that I would write about this one day, I did not take notes. I was already impressed by what I saw and what they said to me: There are some anomalies, magnetic or energetic, here, the parameters are high. Dont stand too long inside this circle.
Maybe this explains my unpleasant feeling? What could it be? Why this shape? Why this oval circle? Even the most sceptical minds would ask these questions. Those with rich imagination would certainly imagine something from outer space (such as, for example, as if the light of a huge powerful space projector or laser fire burnt the soil making the coloured wrinkles and left this sharp distinct border of this dead or different zone). Even those with less imagination would probably think of a meteorite of a big, slightly oval size and different geo- logical material, which had fallen to this place. No real explanation exists, except a belief that this place is of volcanic origin, which is a weak explanation because the whole island is a huge volcano. So, this would not explain either the shape of this oval circle, or the design of the soil (even if it explains some of the colours, as brown or yellow or ochre), or why this spot is totally dead, an oasis amidst the flourishing blossoms.
I heard a story that in this place the earth has special qualities and neither its form can be changed nor can the colours of the soil ever erode in spite of torrential downpours and adverse climatic conditions. Moreover, if the earth were ever to mix, it would subsequently split once more according to the seven colours. So I took samples of sand of each colour and mixed them in a plastic bag, so they became homogeneous. Back in the hotel I put this mixture on a large peace of paper, curious as to what would happen. The next day, the sand had changed its shape and one more day later it had divided into the very distinctive seven colours.
For a long time after, the image of this place remained in my mind, including the unpleasant feeling I had there. Several years later I had chance to return to Mauritius again, and I again was drawn to go there. By that time Chamarel had become one of the biggest tourist attractions and one of the recognized unexplained phenomena. A special observation platform had been built. It was forbidden to walk on the dunes, but just to look at them from the platform. Also tubes with samples of the multicoloured sand were everywhere on sale. I was fortunate to arrive very early in the morning. I was alone. The place impressed me even more than the previous time. The day was sunny and the colours were even more distinctive, the same strange feeling of anxiousness possessed me. No, I was not mistaken the first time. It was something in this place, something strange, something strong, something eternal and unknown. I looked at this enigmatic landscape and remembered the verses of the English poet William Blake:
To see the world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold the universe in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour...
Just to conclude, that until today no solid research has been published so far. No solid scientific information can be found on this place either, except it is recognised as one of the strangest places with lunar shaped dunes that still puzzle geographers and scientists and that this phenomenon has never been either explained or really understood. So, the enigma lives on.