Manfredas: You know the way it’s your birthday in January and mine in February?
Me: Uh huh.
Manfredas: Fancy going to Mauritius to celebrate?
Manfredas: Where are you going??
And so, after a near miss by Manfredas with the ticket inspectors on the S-Bahn, we were off.
I won’t bore you with oodles of photos of idyllic beaches, glorious sunsets or stunning scenery because you can google those yourself. Hint: google “Mauritius” – that’s really how it looks. I won’t even attempt to get my blog stats up by posting Halle Berry-style shots of me emerging from the water in a bikini. (Just google “Halle Berry bikini” – that’s far less scary.)
Instead, I’m going to take you on a slightly alternative tour of Mauritius, courtesy of the ever-so-slightly rambling mind that is mine.
You are welcome.
Upon arriving at our guest house and settling in a bit, Manfredas announced that he would be putting his valuables in the safe.
Me: Good idea. I’ll do that too.
Manfredas: Cool. I’ll just put the key up here on top of the wardrobe.
Me: Erm, are you sure that’s a good idea?
Manfredas: Well, if we take it with us and lose it, then we’re really screwed.
Me: Yes, you’re right. Now we can only get robbed by German, Scandinavian or Dutch people. Oh, or short people with the strength to drag a chair in front of the wardrobe and stand on it.
We were off to a great start.
I decided to make us a nice cup of tea to get things back on track. We had a choice of two cups – Piglet or Pooh. Upon closer examination, I discovered that the clever designers had not only drawn a picture of each character, but also broken them down by body part. I’m still not sure why they had to draw such close attention to Piglet’s arm but maybe someone can enlighten me…
Now, if you’re anything like me, when you picture botanical gardens, trees probably play a role. And, sure enough, it turned out that there were trees in the Botanical Gardens – lots of them. The only problem was:
Manfredas: How the hell are you supposed to “refrain from walking/standing under trees” in a botanical garden?
If the finest of logical, German thinking couldn’t make any sense of it, then other people didn’t stand a chance.
However, it wasn’t just the tourists who were prone to a bit of flexibility with the Mauritian law…
As it’s entirely possible that Mauritian buses are solely responsible for global warming (kind of)…
… on this day, we had decided to rent a car to go and visit the Seven Cascades in the south of the island.
Manfredas: They drive on the “wrong” side of the road here but it’s fine; I’ve done it before.
As I’ve never felt unsafe in a car with him in the past, I took him at his word. And so began the most terrifying day anyone has ever experienced on the über-chilled island of Mauritius. Bollards, walls, ditches, sheer drops, lamp-posts, parked cars and scooters, small children and stray dogs whooshed past me, inches from my face.
Me: Jesus Christ! Could you leave a bit more space on this side of the car?!
Manfredas: Sorry! I don’t want to go too far into the middle of the road!
Manfredas: What was that?
Me: (cowering) Kerb.
Manfredas: Shit, really?
Me: Yes bloody really! We’re not making it back with this mirror…
Manfredas: It’s fine. I’m getting the hang of it now.
Manfredas: What was that?
Me: Car mirror…
A couple of lifetimes later, we arrived at where the Seven Cascades should have been.
Me: This looks like a bus depot.
This was really rather observant of me as it was a bus depot. We circled around, following signs for the Seven Cascades and finally arrived at… the same bus depot.
Luckily, a local man was standing by. He ushered us down a dirt track, assuring us that there was parking down there somewhere. We crawled along, parked up where a couple of other cars were parked and got out.
Me: This looks like a dead-end dirt track.
It was. Fortunately, our new friend wasn’t far behind us. In broken English/French, we managed a conversation that saw us following him down said dirt track.
Kindly stranger: (shoving something under my nose) Smell!
Me: Oooh, lovely…
KS: Is mint!
Me: Oooh, lovely.
KS: Here! Is for you!
Me: Oooh, lovely!
I’ve never really known how to comment on plants and stuff.
I tucked the leaves into my handbag for politeness sake and we carried on a bit until we were finally greeted with a view of the Seven Cascades in the distance.
Me: Oooh, lovely!
And it was. But short of hiking down there, that was as close as we were going to get. I tossed the mint on the path when our new friend wasn’t looking and we headed back to the car for the death trip home. This time, I wisely decided to close my eyes for most of it.
All in all, we had a fantastic time. The island is gorgeous, the people are among the friendliest on earth, the food is amazing, and Manfredas had what, I hope, will be one of his most memorable birthdays.
So, I’ll leave you with some random observations.
- Some guest houses have bed clothes that would be more at home in Latvia.
2. Avoid Mauritian wine at all costs.
3. Mauritians take the sacred “O apostrophe” and use it to wipe their bums.
And finally, finally, since you’ve borne with my ramblings for so long, here’s the long-awaited bikini shot.
Note: This post is in no way sponsored by the Tourism Board of Mauritius. If they see it, they’ll probably never let me back.