Mark Twain said: “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then Heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius”.
He was right, Mauritius is beautiful and a country I had never heard of before Semester at Sea introduced me to her. A small island made up of volcanic ash off the coast of Madagascar. It houses 1.3 million people from all backgrounds and religions. It is 43% Muslim, 34% Hindu and 23% Christian. They speak French and are a colony of Portugal. Our Global Studies professor says it best: “In Mauritius a Muslim Creole can walk into a shop, buy an Indian dosa while speaking french”. A land of various and endless possibilities that all fit within a country so small that you can drive across it in less than 1 hour.
A small fuel stop for our ship, we were only in Mauritius for a short 30 something hours, and every second counted. I began my journey walking through the streets of the capitol Port Louis. I walked through the markets, picked up a few great presents, ate at a French pastry shop and made my way back to the ship to get on my FDP to a Children’s Village.
The SOS Children’s village was a town near the center of the island in Bambous. Nine houses with an average of eight children in each house. They each have a woman who dedicated her time to work there and play the role of these children’s mothers. Some were orphaned while others came from bad homes and had to be forcefully removed for their own protection. We got to play with these children, make them smile and they made us smile. I made a friend: she was around nine and spoke no English, just French. I can’t remember her name, just the curls of her hair, and the colour of her dark skin. She just held my hand and the kindness in her eyes was no compare to the misery she must have faced.
It was hard leaving her, but our visit was over. While I sat on the bus, she stood outside my window and ran after our bus waving until she became a spec in the distance and then vanished.
Back at the ship I had no plans for the rest of the night, but I knew I was going out. I put on a dress, cute shoes and a tiny bag with just a camera and money. Everyone else had backpacks with sleeping bags, and extra clothes. Everyone was sleeping out, but I had every intention of sleeping back on the ship. Of course things don’t always turn out the way we hope them too.
There was a huge group of us, and we all got into two taxis with full intentions of heading towards the same beach: Grand Bay. Well, I’m not sure how the decision was made, but I ended up an hour in the other direction at Fliq en Flaq. A whole two hours from Grand Bay. That was the first mess up.
Our friend Dani had found some people there that she knew from the ship, so we headed over to their Villa before deciding to visit the beach. It was 9 pm, dark, and lucky for me… I had no swim suit. This of course still did not stop me. The theory was: my bra covers more of me than my bikini would, so in I went. Leigh forgot her swim suit too, so we were both in our under garments.
An hour later, after splashing around like mad men, someone got the brilliant idea to visit a bar. Mess up number 2. Putting my dress on over my wet undergarments was not as easy as I thought. My hair was soaked, my dress started to get wet and there was sand and salt everywhere! At this point, I for sure did not look cute in the least bit. However Leigh had brought a towel, so we took turns sitting on it, and trying to dry off.
There was a live band at the bar, so instead of sitting down drinking and spending money, we decided to dance! It was an outdoor bar, which helped my hair dry, and the stars were shinning above and all around us.
Tired of dancing we walked back to the Villa to just relax for a bit. I still had every intention of going back to the ship to fall asleep and grab a swim suit since I was going on a catamaran the next day. At two am, we tried to find a taxi for the ride back but apparently taxis don’t run that late on a Tuesday. We were stuck there. Mess up number 3.
Walking back to the villa, we really had nowhere else to go. I just figured I would wake up at 6 am, get a ride back to the ship, grab my swimsuit and then go to the catamaran. The positivity of the idea calmed me.
At the villa, I found a small corner of a couch to cuddle up on, but lovely Dani found us a bed. We snuggled in the tiniest single bed. We were both wet, and there was sand everywhere. It’s a good thing the girl is tiny because there is no way we would have fit otherwise.
Long story short, we did not sleep that night. People kept jumping on us, laughing, screaming. Dani and I kept shuffling around trying to fit without knocking the other one out. Poor Leigh ended up on the floor.
It was a joke and quickly became mess up number 4.
6 am rolled around quicker than we thought… and realistically, I was not making it back to the ship. I was going to go on a catamaran wearing the same outfit and no swimsuit. For some reason, I was still calm about it. We grabbed a taxi who was the nicest man ever. He brought us to an ATM, then for breakfast and as my saviour he begged some woman to open up her shop early so I could buy a swim suit. Thank heavens!
The Catamaran lasted all day. It took us to private beaches on Ile Aux Cerfs, where we did some snorkelling and relaxing. It was honestly the most perfect day. There were about 30 of us from Semester at Sea plus a good bunch of people from France who brought the catamaran to another level with water fights, dance off’s and even some got into it with drinking competitions. Mauritius was crazy. It was beautiful, wild, and completely unplanned.
We had ordered a mini bus back from the catamaran to our ship, which got pulled over by the cops for not having a license. We had to run to find a water taxi to our ship so we wouldn’t be late and suffer dock time (a miserable punishment that states if your 1 minute to 15 minutes late you have to stay on the ship for three hours in the next port, and it goes up by three hours for every 15 minutes: Brutal!)
We made it on time, with high adrenaline, great memories, and my dress from the night before. I needed a shower.
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