As I was booking my trip to South Africa and Madagascar, I had two return routes to choose from. One was to fly back to South Africa and take a connecting flight back home and the other option was to take a connecting flight from the neighbouring island of Mauritius. The latter seemed to be the obviously better choice since Indians don’t need a visa for a short stay in Mauritius and so I took out a couple of days after the long and exhausting South Africa trip to rest on the beaches of the Indian Ocean before heading back to reality. This is the only post I am going to write about Mauritius because I stayed there for two days only and most of it consisted of resting on the couch of my wonderful Couchsurfing host family. Sonia and her family agreed to host me at the last moment and I cannot thank her enough for making my stay so comfortable. All my previous couch surfing experiences had been with people living alone or in shared houses and this was the first time that a family was ready to host me and treat me as a part of it. It was incredible. Sonia and her family were so welcoming that never for a minute out of the two days that I stayed there, did I feel as if I was at a stranger’s house. That’s the reason why this post has been named ‘A Home Away From Home’.
Most of the population on the island of Mauritius are migrants from South Asian countries. Indians form one of the major parts of it. This saved me a lot of trouble as I didn’t look like a tourist among the local crowds and hence everybody mistook me for a local too. Some of the people even tried talking to me in French, thinking that I was a resident there. Being another previously French colony, it is the most commonly spoken language within the island. I guess I hadn’t realized that my French connection was not going to part from me for a long time. I landed in Mauritius as a true wanderer- with no plans, no idea what or where I was going to go and the main reason for this was that I was tired of being excited beforehand and planning everything in advance all by myself. All I wanted to do in Mauritius was to put my head down and lie on beach for two whole days.
Before going there, I had a different image of Mauritius in my head. I saw it more as it was portrayed to the outside world: as a popular honeymoon destination and a paradise for tourists. I am not denying the fact that it felt like paradise- it is an absolutely amazing island. I chose to stay on the south of the island which is where most of the locals are based. This part of the country has a life as normal as anywhere else. The means of transportation relies mostly on public buses which run only till 6PM and closing down that early makes the southern part of the city stop. That came as a surprise to me because I thought that I was in an incredibly touristy island. I was then told that life in the South of Mauritius is not touristy and that the locals prefer to close their shops at about the same time. There are no Uber cabs available and the bus timings are not covered by Google Maps either so human navigation is all one can reach out to while travelling in Mauritius. Hiring a car might be a good option since it’s a small island and it takes only an hour and a half to make a complete round of both sides of the island.
On my first day, I met a fellow Couch surfer, Laura who had suggested that we meet up as she was also travelling alone. I met her at the South Beach near a place called Flic and Flac. She was an environmental researcher and was doing some research work on am neighbouring island. Her host, Rick joined us an hour later. Rick happened to be a marine biologist working on the island. I really felt exceptionally close to nature that day 🙂 . He was kind enough to take us on a ride to show us the southern part of the island. We drove through places called the Black Water, the Case Noyale and finally ended up at Black Water National Park. We had enchanting views of the island from up there and Rick told us a lot about the history of the country but to be honest, my head was filled with so much information from the long trip that there was no space for nothing more. He dropped me back at the water front after our long ride and I was really thankful to him for making my day so productive.
I apologies for not having been able to give away information about the various activities which one can do in the country By the time my last day came, I was so exhausted from top to bottom that I had no energy left in me to do anything. The island has amazing water activities but it was just not the right time for me. I spent second and last day of the trip just sitting at the water front and having some nice cold beer with some good food. I decided to head back to Sonia’s place in the afternoon and just watched TV with her brother for the rest of the day. This was exactly what I was looking for on the last day and it was like I was home even before leaving the country. We went out for dinner together followed by some good conversations that evening. I bored them with my travel stories and learned a lot from them about the culture of Mauritius. I found it to be very close to the Indian culture because of obvious reasons but it was fun to know them all the same.
Overall it was nice to be there and experience the life away from those flashy honeymoon huts, touristy streets and get a feel of the daily lives of the locals on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I would definitely like to visit the island again. It’s the best place for a stopover if you are ever within that region. Don’t judge the country by its size. I have already put Mauritius on my bucket list for next year to have a special diving experience (which I am first planning to learn this year in Indonesia). Mauritius is worth visiting and since I couldn’t do much on the island, I don’t want to give you other touristy information (which you might find on any website) just to make up for it. I hope that you enjoyed this article. This is the last article from my South Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius trip series. I have been receiving a great response from everyone. I will be writing about my visit to Turkey and Dubai along with showcasing some amazing pictures. So stay tuned and keep wandering.