Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mauritius - an introduction

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Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean, close to Madagascar (you know, where the dancing lemurs live. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you may not have enough children in your life). Most people in the states have never heard of Mauritius, although it's a popular tourist destination for people in France and other parts of Europe. It takes almost 24 hours of flying to get there from the West coast of the US, which is probably why it's not that popular with Americans - and it's small enough that it's not on every map. 

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beautiful view of the sugar cane fields


Mauritius has an interesting mix of cultures. The main language is officially French and English, although Creole is what's commonly spoken. East Indians, Africans, Chinese, and Europeans have all settled on the island at one point or another.

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a stall at the Port Louis bazaar - selling medicine or spices
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a stall with Hindu statues and incense
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making brooms
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selling various tubers
Also, the food is really good - a kind-of fusion of all of the cultures that make up the island, but ultimately it has its own flavor. When we think of Mauritius, we often think of our favorite foods as well: Vindaye, Achards, Roti, Dhal Puri...


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mmmm - dhal puri...
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lots of yummy things that are not so healthy...

And, of course, the fresh seafood... 

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super fresh tuna sold right on the beach - we grilled it - yum!
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Joel has a long history with Mauritius and has visited many times, as well as spending the first 3 years or so of his life there. His father grew up in Mauritius, and his grandmother. He has many Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins who live there.

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Coli and her great-grandma

This summer marked my third visit to Mauritius, and Jhacoli's second. Her first visit was when she was 3 (almost 4), and my favorite picture from that time is of her sitting on a plastic potty on the edge of a sugar cane field (we were carrying the borrowed potty around in the back of our car).

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Besides visiting with family and sampling the cuisine, most of our activities involve water, because, well, it's an island.

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We went snorkeling, boogie boarding, tide pooling (ok, I know that's not an actual thing, but I bet you know what I mean), and rock-hopping. And, of course, Paddle Boarding.

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We brought two inflatable paddle boards with us, since we were staying at a house on the beach and not at a hotel with rentals available. It was pretty nice to be able to wake up and walk down to the water for an early paddle. It was a bit of a hassle to inflate the boards, and to deflate and inflate them again if we wanted to bring them to a different beach - but I'm sure Joel will have more to say on the subject of traveling with inflatables in a future post...

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We also took several paddle tours - which Joel will tell you about in more detail soon.

All in all, we had a wonderful visit, packed with activities. One of Jhacoli's favorites was learning to dance the Sega...

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It might be a few years before we're able to make the trek out there to visit again. Until then, we have many awesome memories, as well as the unfortunate souvenir of several extra pounds from eating too much good food...I guess we'll have to paddle more, next time...


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