Abandoned sugar mill, Mauritius

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In Michael Ondaatje’s excellent book Running In The Family, he describes a tea plantation in Sri Lanka as an oasis of order against the chaotic jungle – but also notes that if the careful cultivation ever stopped, the jungle would utterly destroy all that order in just a few years.

This sugar mill was in the middle of a jungle, and is slowly succumbing to the plants.  Grass, vines, and trees are everywhere; just the stones remain.  Walking through the ruins, there was something tragic about it – as if the ghosts of all the labourers, who had erected the walls and worked the sugar cane into exportable goods, who had lived and died in and around these walls as “contract” workers – a useful euphemism for the English colonialists who were not supposed to use slavery – it was as if the stones were markers for their lives, and the jungle was reclaiming the stain of their blood on the soil, and working to erase the memory of those dark days by pulling down the walls they’d been forced to build.

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