Discover Mauritius - The People, The Food & More
There are some countries you will see on the internet and you cant help but wonder if its possible for you to go there. For me it’s been for a long time Mauritius and Maldives followed by the rest. There’s something about seeing white sands and blue oceans surrounding tiny land mass of gorgeous resorts. It calls out to me. So when the golden ticket opportunity came up, I snatched it up like it was the last grain of Jollof on my dinner plate. Thank you Multichoice for my golden opportunity to share more stories.
So how was Mauritius? How is the place like? This and many more questions flowed to me on my Facebook page, on Whatsapp and whoever I came across on my return. It looks like everyone is more curious than ever about the island just behind Madagascar. Here, have a seat and let me share with you my experience in Mauritius and why it must take top position on your bucket list.
First of all, you don’t need a visa to go Mauritius from Ghana. I don’t know when this was decided but trust me it wasn’t recent (wink wink). I actually discovered this sometime in late July. Travelling to Mauritius from Ghana can be two ways of which I am aware of; fly to Johannesburg and then to the island or fly to Dubai and skip across the ocean to the island. The longest route being Dubai of course. That trip took about 13 hours of being in an enclosed tube. Accra to Dubai was about 7 hours and then after a 3-hour wait in transit, another 6 hours to Mauritius. I was too knackered to take notice of the airport but that changed when we were departing back to Dubai. It was a stunner! A modern airport awashed in light and clean architectural lines. The airport staff literally greeted us when we got out of the van to go check-in. Never seen that before!
The road was perfectly smooth from the airport to the Outrigger Resort & Spa where we stayed for a week. Although narrow there were safety signs on trees because the roads were that narrow. Seeing I was going to be cooped in for awhile at the resort I decided to have a chat with the locals to find out more about moving around in the town etc. There were bus stops on the sides of the roads and I was told that the local buses are slower during the weekends. Also the market closes at 12pm on Sundays said one of the resort staff. Why? They go to sleep came the broken English response.
This bus reminded me of the Trotro inscriptions we also have here in Ghana. The taxi’s I saw looked modern and well kept and the drivers were eager to send me into town.
The People of Mauritius
The people of Mauritius are called Mauritian and the language commonly spoken is French, Creole (mother tongue) and English. During a sightseeing trip, the tour guide pointed out that in school, students speak Creole outside of the classroom but once inside their Teacher teaches in French and their text books are in English! What confusion is this, I asked myself as I tried to understand the logic of it. Definitely a diverse language speaking country is what will occur. But speaking to the locals, I realized they love speaking French more than English. With my intermediate French speaking skills pat down, I was able to communicate well to them which made them open up. They said they didn’t like English. English is hard one kayak instructor said to me. Most of the locals I came across were friendly and open. They knew so little about Ghana, saying they only see parts of it on TV (not the JamesTown part I hoped) and have seen us play football.
Due to the migration of Chinese and Indian workers and former slaves into the island, the food is a huge blend of foods from those cultures.
At the Mercado restaurant where we mostly had lunch, there was a colourful array of Thai, Chinese, European and Indian food. I found some dishes quite bland but thanks to my black shitor which I took as a backup plan I was saved.
I however later discovered their green chili paste which I will confess is hotter than the Ghanaian green pepper (Kpakposhitor). You know that pepper which makes you scratch your head and gives you an instant nose leak? Yep exactly like that! I wish I had the time to visit the local markets to have a true taste of ‘roadside food’ as we say in Ghana. That is what will give a true picture of the local cuisine. The Vietnamese chef however surprised me on one of the days. There was Thai fried rice with all kinds of sauces. I spied Won Ton soup and hesitantly decided to have that as my starter. There’s nothing worse for me than bland Won Ton soup. Oh but to my utter amazement this was absolutely explosively delicious! Well according to my Ghanaian palate. It was fresh, well spiced and the chicken wrapped in the dough skin was herby and well minced. I had to give glowing compliments to the chef and of course tweet it! Now this is food!
Expect and try out a lot of the fresh delicious seafood anytime you visit the island. I saw lights in the low tide of the ocean during the VuzuAmp night. As I gazed at the strange lights moving erratically on the surface I couldn’t help but wonder if it was night patrol or fishermen. I asked my colleague Dela who stroked his chin in wonder. Bemused. I later found out from a night guard at the resort that it was fishermen. Apparently the fishes swam into the coral to sleep at night and that was the perfect and easy opportunity to catch them.
I wouldn’t say because it’s an island the beaches are naturally beautiful. I think the mindset and efforts of the people to keep the beaches clean is what has sustained the beauty of the corals and the amazing landscape of the seaside. Every morning I saw the beach being cleaned up by people whom I presume have been employed to do so.
The only time I saw anything related to waste was way past Outrigger towards another resort, an empty coke bottle. The corals are buzzing with life thanks to zero pollution. The shallow areas are great for wading but always wear the right shoes to protect your feet from jellyfish. You should visit the OutRigger Resort, great food , calm ambiance and best spa ever!
There is kite surfing, kayaking, snorkeling and other fun water sports to engage in.
I gathered from the sightseeing trip that sugarcane is one of the major export products for the country. Aside being exported it is used to generate electricity. Pause. Yes produce electricity. The bagasse, which is produced after crushing the cane, is burnt and the heat generated is what is used to generate electricity. That much I gathered from the locals. No dumsor in Mauritius. They also use the cane to produce fine rum. I couldn’t help but to be amazed about the amount of sugar cane covering the landscape. Miles and miles of it streams and waves in the island breeze. Being on the coastal area i guess this was more common.
A visit to the Chamarel Rum Distillery showed exactly how the process is undertaken; from the grueling machete cutting of the cane, to fermentation and then to the distilling stage. Definitely worth a visit.
Tourism is budding with many visitors from Europe and South Africa. ‘ We want to see more of other Africans,’ said the local guard. Also Mauritius has been listed as 3rd least corrupt country in Africa. A great place for investors and startups. The resorts are extraordinary with each offering a unique experience. Tea is also a popular export commodity.
I was sad to leave on Sunday to head back into dumsor which welcomed me when I got home. The island is soothingly calm and peacefully fresh. A great place for a honeymoon or a personal getaway. If you can afford it. But its worth every cedi! A story to definitely tell.
But how could I forget about the Dodo? I went to the land of the Dodo and didn't write anything?? Scandalous!
The Dodo is an extinct bird which due to its once a year laying of one egg (eaten by rats and monkeys) and lazy attitude was eaten into extinction. Originally as small as a pigeon became as large as a chicken due to its continual eating and sleeping habits. But I got my own Dodo hehehe. I will name her Auntie Tsotsoo.
Have you been to Mauritius? What was your experience?