We only stopped in Mauritius for a few hours, but I still managed to get my coffee. I just got an espresso shot—I was still fighting off the exhaustion from South Africa! I got it at a café on the beach along with a marlin sandwich right before spending the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun. Mauritius was described to me by someone in South Africa as Africa’s Hawaii, but Mauritius looks nothing like Africa or Hawaii. The majority of the population in Mauritius is Indian and after being to India, I would say Mauritius looks more like a milder version of India. In the city, the streets are narrow, crowded, and lined with shops selling all kinds of fabric, clothing, spices, and fruits and vegetables I have never seen before. When we got off the ship we had to take a water taxi to get to the shore. My first impressions of Mauritius weren’t so great—the port water was littered with plastic bottles and smelled terrible and I was bombarded by street salesmen and taxi drivers the second I got off the boat. While walking to find a bank we passed shop after shop selling cheap souvenirs of dodo birds with “Mauritius” printed across them (Mauritius is where the dodo bird lived before it became extinct and convinced the world that it is possible for a species to be wiped out). But the further into the island we got, the less touristy the shops became and I could start to see some of the culture of the island. It is a really unique blend of many different cultures. This is especially evident in the music of the island. Sega—a fusion of traditional African music and European dance music—is one popular genre while seggae—a blend of reggae and sega—is also prominent. I personally really like the seggae. It was really cool to see so many cultures living together, too. Just walking down the street you can see African faces next to Indian faces next to Asian faces… Port Louis even has its own Chinatown. After wandering the streets of Port Louis for a while we decided to take a cab to the beach to spend the afternoon. We flagged down a cab and asked to be taken to the Grande Bay. After talking to the driver for a while we learned that he wasn’t actually a cab driver. He was a merchant who travels to India and China for products and sells them at his shop in Mauritius and was just borrowing his brother’s car. When we told him we were only in Mauritius for the day he gave us a bit of a driving tour around the island and even took us to a better beach—for no extra charge. It was really nice to meet someone who wasn’t just trying to get as much money out of me as possible for once. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach. It was perfect—the water was clear and just as warm as the air. We had a really great cab driver on the way back to the port too. He charged us a little more, but offered to give us a free ride the rest of the way to the ship later on if we needed it. I gave in and finally bought myself a pizza before boarding the water taxi back to the MV Explorer and leaving Mauritius.
Our stop in Mauritius was really short, but it was a nice break from schoolwork—midterms!—and a great way to ease us into what was to come. India was enough of a shock even with the tiny glimpse I got in Mauritius.