Friday, 16 May 2014
Mauritius is a lovely island with friendly people and is definitely a lot more reasonably priced than people realise- you can visit on a backpacker budget. For under £20 a night, we had our own apartment near the beach and really enjoyed the experience; a home away from home and time to kick back after travelling through Bolivia. The snorkelling on the south east of the island at Blue Bay was awesome as the coral was so close to shore and there was a huge variety of fish to spot. Of course, being on an island we also enjoyed plenty of fish dishes including octopus, squid and camarones (10 inch long prawns). Mauritius is also a great place to dive. The weather had been beautiful for the first few days of our stay and then changed the day before we planned to go diving. Although we knew it wouldn't be great visibility we decided to go on one dive of a Japanese wreck- Stella Maru (there seems to be a theme here with our diving!) I am glad that we did as the dive was great fun. There were lots of fish including an Emperor Angelfish hiding under part of the boat's structure. The fish were super friendly, mainly because they get fed. Apparently Mauritius has one of the highest rates of return visitors and I can see why. There is a lot to see and do in Mauritius and we weren't able to cover most of it- good job we are going back for more and will add to their statistics. It's great to be back to the islands!
Set up with a few hot tips from a Mauritian friend from London, we had the best time just relaxing by the sea in the sun. Good stuff!
Quite unlike some high volcanic islands that are only inhabitable around their perimeter like Kauai, Rarotonga or even Tahiti, Mauritius is generally flat - with some isolated dramatic pokey-uppey bits scattered about. So the whole thing is inhabited and bustling with people, yet there seems to be space for sugar fields and some forest as well. The people are an interesting mix too - prior to European contact, there was no indigenous population (but more Dodo birds!) so everyone there ultimately has some sort of exotic origin, and the majority of people trace their ancestry to the Indian subcontinent. Despite being under British administration for over one and half centuries since the French were displaced in 1810, French (or a French-based creole) is still the lingua franca even though English is the (never heard) official language.
We enjoyed buzzing around on a scooter and visiting the botanical gardens with its giant lillypads, lotuses and beautiful palms. It was also intersting to visit the Blue Penny musuem, where an unused pair of the famous 1847 Mauritius "Post Office" stamps are on display. I'd been hearing about them since I was a kid, so it was cool to peer through thick glass into a tiny dimly lit display vault to see the million dollar articles. Curiosity satisfied.
All in all, it's been a great place to visit for a week, and we look forward to coming back in a fortnight!