During my travels, I have met a fair share of people from various ethnic backgrounds. Now if you look for polar opposites among human beings; you can’t get better than a combo of French and Biharis (people from the state of Bihar in northern India). So, when I went to Mauritius I couldn’t believe my eyes. There they were; Biharis and
So, when I went to Mauritius I couldn’t believe my eyes. There they were; Biharis and French talking to each other in casual French and giggling at each other’s jokes. I must have stared at such scenes at least thrice a day, pinching myself harder everyday. Needless to say, I had a sore left wrist and right thumb! Need to work on my pinching habits I guess!
The French built its first harbour at Port Louis, named after the ruling king Louis XV and it became the capital of Mauritius. Trade on the island thrived; Mauritius could supply enough sugar and rum to the surrounding islands and visiting vessels. From this strategic position in the Indian Ocean, the French attacked English vessels on their way to and from India. Slowly they got in British came with Indians in tow to work in the sugarcane fields.
Anyway, let’s talk about the paradise bit. Yes, the beaches are as amazing as they seem on the photos. The Creole cuisine is pretty good for most palates. Only tiny downside is the unpredictable weather. Summer (November to May) is the best time, but it’s still a ‘go any-time of the year’ destination for the most part.
The waters are consistently Turquoise almost everywhere. The more east you travel, the shallower reefs get, the better the corals are and better the diving is. But anywhere works fine, if you just want to chill on a beach with a beer or a Pinacolada.
- Ile aux Cerfs Island: It’s actually a private island and now thrives on touristic paraphernalia. But the waters are crystal and have various activities for everyone.
- The “Black River Gorges” National park: Its is located in the hilly south-western part of Mauritius. The park extends over an area of 6,754 hectares. With the help of the guides, you will discover Mauritius’ natural heritage in this unique area which is also the location of one of the rarest forests in the world. It harbors about 311 species of native and endemic flowering plants and 9 species of birds, which are found only in Mauritius.
- Flic-en-Flac: This once sleepy town is now caught up in the tourist boom. But it’s still pretty rustic and worth a day’s visit surely. You wanna buy a souvenir? this is the place.
- Chamarel Seven Coloured Earth: The seven coloured earth is a natural phenomenon and a tourist attraction. The colours evolved through conversion of basaltic lava to clay minerals. It is a relatively small area of sand dunes comprising sand of seven distinct colours (red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow). You can see a few giant tortoises at the adjacent conservatory as well.
- Ganga Talao: It is a crater amidst mountains in an isolated region. It is linked to the mighty Ganges river in India. According to Hindu mythology, the God Shiva and his wife Parvati were flying around the earth. God Shiva was balancing the sacred river on his head to prevent the earth from floodings. Shiva saw a beautiful island, Mauritius and decided to land, but accidentally spilled a few drops into the crater, creating a small lake. And this is how the sacred lake, Ganga Talao, emerged and became home to the biggest annual pilgrimage of Hindus outside of India.
Now the heading to that section doesn’t really make sense as grading one beach over another is quite meaningless. All the beaches are fantastic.
What I Read:
‘The Prospector’ and English translation of French novel tells the story of young Alexis L’Etang. He enjoys an idyllic existence with his parents and beloved sister: sampling the pleasures of privilege, exploring the constellations and tropical flora, and dreaming of treasure buried long ago by the legendary Unknown Corsair. But with his father’s death, Alexis must leave his childhood paradise and enter the harsh world of privation and shame. Years later, Alexis has become obsessed with the idea of finding a treasure and, through it, the lost magic and opulence of his youth. (Amazon)
What I Saw: ‘Lonbraz Kann’ A semi-French-English-Creole movie about workers in sugarcane fields in Mauritius. It portrays their lives and how they change when a mill shuts down. (IMDB)
The biggest thing that stood out for me in this tropical paradise is that Mauritius has such a diverse population. There is no “official religion” in Mauritius. Hindus, Tamils, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and others from all over the globe live in harmony. Pretty rare these days!
Another typical facet of Mauritian life is the ‘Sundowner’. It is the name given to a drink, often a local cocktail, taken at sunset? This is an exquisite opportunity to prolong your day on the beach and finish up a day spent lazing on the white sands of Mauritius’ immaculate beaches. Very fitting for such a paradise!
Oh and their music. Mauritian Séga is a style of music and also a dance form that originates from African people brought to Mauritius. Various emotions impregnate the Creole songs. Wearing long, colorful dresses, women dance barefoot swinging their hips and the rest of their bodies to the rhythm of the music. Take a look here for a sample.
Creole Cuisine: A mixed of African, Indian and European cuisines influenced and embellished the Creole cuisine is a wonderful and succulent delicacy. Do try the Rougail. It is essentially a tomato-based dish, with incredibly rich flavors thanks to the combination of spices used. Since this recipe is passed down from generation to generation, there are quite a few variations of spice combinations: onions, garlic, ginger, thyme, chilies, cilantro/coriander, spring onions, curry leaves, etc. The point is, feel free to adapt your rougaille recipe and really make it your own. Every restaurant serves it differently. Only constant is the yumminess!