Well, I’m older. And to honor that, Jon and I decided to go somewhere warm with it starting to get colder in SA. We settled on the island of Mauritius, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. It’s part of the continent of Africa and was a French (and then a British) colony. There are also a lot of descendants from India (primarily) and China there and the currency is the Rupee. Needless to say, it is a very diverse, beautiful place. And hearing French all day isn’t half bad, especially when you’re in paradise! The trip began with us arriving at the airport and the airline saying that our flight was ‘suspended.’ We were able to get on another flight 1.75 hours later, thankfully, and had a long, drawn-out breakfast in the terminal. We didn’t have cell service when we arrived in Mauritius so we routed to the resort from the rental car place and hoped for the best. We made it to the resort after dark, unfortunately, but it gave us even more anticipation for what the island would look like the next day.
At the resort, we were welcomed in the lovely lobby and asked to give our bags and go sit in the lounge. A guest relations representative came and brought us drinks and pineapple (good start!) and took us to our room, showing us where things were along the way. Excellent customer service right off the bat! (This is a company that was started by a Mauritian and has expanded to the Maldives, UAE, Turkey, China, Vietnam & Reunion Island, the island next door to Mauritius.) Our room was super modern with an iPad that lets you book reservations at the restaurants, request an iron, etc. Fancy! We ordered room service and watched the Comey hearing. It certainly was interesting and we were glad we got to watch it live. (We also couldn’t have gotten in to one of the restaurants with such short notice so it was a good way to get something to eat and settle in.)
The next day we went to get coffee and tea at the resort’s branded coffee shop, got a tour of the property and explored. There is a ton of stuff to do there like water sports, a gym, table tennis, tennis, yoga classes, a tea room, a library, gin and rum tastings, etc. And everywhere we went, someone was there to answer questions and generally be helpful – it was awesome. We went to lunch at a cute boutique hotel called La Maison d’Éte. We had a really nice lunch overlooking the ocean and relaxed. It was strangely windy (according to the locals we asked) but they said that it should hopefully get better. (We were seeing rain forecasts so we were happy it was still sunny!) We went back to the resort so Jon could work a bit, then we went to get fresh fruit ice cream and sat by the ocean. We also went to the tea house, had a tasting and ordered a pot of rose black tea. Heaven. (I even bought some to take home…) They also have a library adjacent and we checked out a book to read during our stay. We got ready for dinner and went to an awesome Indian restaurant heralded by a two Michelin star chef. We sat at a table right by the kitchen and got to watch them prepare everything. The chef making the naan was particularly interesting to watch – it seemed to involve him sticking the dough inside the cylindrical, vertical oven. Neat!
The next morning we slept in a bit, got breakfast at the bar restaurant and went to the boat house. They had a boat ride scheduled so we boarded with a group of 7 Chinese tourists and jetted off! It was a glass-bottomed boat and it was super cool to see the coral and fish as we whizzed by. We also saw a humongous turtle, which Jon said he didn’t see throughout all of the of scuba diving he’s done! I tend to get seasick easily – especially not looking straight out, to the horizon – but I was able to not hurl on the boat. We then went to the beach area and looked for a place to sit, which ended up being difficult because that place was packed! We were happy to find two chaises on the end and then an attendant came over to tell us it was a restricted area, only for guests in villas. Boo… But, he let us sit on the ones closest to the section for regular common folk, which was nice. (Then we saw him argue with his colleague, who presumably didn’t want to set this abhorrent precedence.) We relaxed, read, etc. Then, we got lunch from the ‘food truck’ by the beach – burritos and grilled cheese. I say ‘food truck’ because it was a buggy connected to a Rolls Royce, so… (And the meal cost the equivalent of $30, which is nuts. But we wanted to try it and didn’t realize how much it was until we ordered.) Then, I went to the spa for a massage, Jon went for a run and we met at the pool at the spa to relax for a bit. It was lovely. We got ready for our dinner at Duck Laundry, the newest restaurant there that highlights Szechuan & Cantonese Chinese cuisine. Yum. (We can’t really get good Chinese food in SA so it was a real treat.)
The next day we had the buffet breakfast and it was insane! There were lots of options for meal plans at the resort – all-inclusive, breakfast only, etc. – but we’d opted out because we wanted to leave the resort some for meals… So we splurged this time. There were juices, fruit, dim sum, Indian, cheeses, breads, pastries, waffle station, omelette station, etc! Heaven, frankly. Then, we drove 40 minutes – enough time to start NPR’s Friday News Roundup episode – to Château de Labourdonnais. A château from the 17th century which looked similar to the mansion from “Gone With the Wind.” We explored the property – they randomly have tortoises there! – and did a tasting of the rum that they produce on the premises. There were different types of rum and some that were infused with fruit. I’m not really a big rum gal but it ended up being quite tasty! We also ate lunch there, overlooking the château. Next, we drove to another mansion called La Maison de Eureka. This one was much less preserved than the first one, with little to no signage nor historical information. But apparently the show there is the series of waterfalls just off of the property. We tried to hike down to see but with my toe still being a bit fragile (and me only wearing flip-flops as a result), we didn’t go too far. We went back to the resort, got more ice cream and sat by the ocean. We then went back to the room, opened the doors and played a board game. Now, Jon was finally in heaven! We went to dinner at the restaurant right on the beach, Beach Rouge, and had a Mediterranean-style meal. It was nice and very red in that joint. They also brought me a birthday dessert – a whole cake – which Jon and I were too stuffed to even eat the few bites we did.
On our last day we had breakfast at the bar again, Jon returned our library book, we got our bags and dropped them off at the car before checking out. Our guest relations representative (who had helped us with the check-in process) came to greet us at check-out, gave us a bracelet with the resort’s logo, took a picture of us and sent us on our way. We drove to the Rault Biscuit Factory, which has been in existence for around 130 years, and took a tour. They make the biscuits from the manioc grain and it was really neat to see the process. It was quite a unique, traditional factory – a lot is still done by hand – and their distribution is only within Mauritius and 5% to Australia (because the family who owns the factory has family there). They gave us tea and let us try each kind of biscuit. It was awesome! Then, we drove to the market in Mahebourg, which was similar to a ‘shuk’ in Israel – lots of stalls selling clothes, fruit, toys, etc. We ordered some chicken biryani from a cart outside of the market and it cost the equivalent of $1.50. We went down to the waterfront – where a couple of other groups were also having that dish for lunch – and enjoyed the lovely scenery. A gas fill-up later, we were returning the rental car at the airport and waiting for our flight. What a wonderful time!
It was truly back to reality when we got back to SA as I had technically started two classes that day. So the next day, I had to furiously make up what I’d already missed! Talk about a kick in the pants after being in paradise! 🙂 I’m taking biochemistry and physiology – two of the prerequisites I need for PA school – and I’m taking them online through Colorado State University. I wish we were still in Mauritius! 🇲🇺
– By Naama