Just home from my first visit to the glorious Mauritius, a former French and English colony situated in the Indian Ocean. Geographically positioned between two fast developing continents of Africa and Asia it is currently attracting lots of financial and entrepreneurial interest. Situated next to Reunion Island, below the Seychelles and quite close to Madagascar and some 2000 km off the coast of South East Africa. As it was a business trip we were only there four days, but you can fly there direct on an 11 hour flight, so it was most certainly doable because there is only a three hour time difference.
All I knew about I’lle Maurice before arriving was that the island is known for it’s breathtaking scenery, turquoise waters, luxuriant vegetation, sugar cane, giant tortoises and of course, it’s the former land of the Dodo. But once you’ve spent some time there, you realise that its the people everyone talks about – historically having been under the rule of the French, the British and the Dutch it’s a wonderful blend of influences from Africa, Europe, Asia and other places. Hindus, Tamils, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists all seemingly living in harmony and free to practice their religions with tolerance and pride. They don’t differentiate, they are all simply Mauritian and this is an understandable source of national pride. The official language is English, although French is extensively used. They use the Mauritian Rupee (MUR) which we worked out was about 500 MUR for every £10. Such an easy place to visit, even the plugs are the same as ours. The food was a delicious mix of cultures and I ate mostly curry.
It has been an independent sovereign state since March 12th 1968 and a Republic since March 12th 1992 so we were there for their 50th anniversary of independence. The Head of State is the President of the Republic. The Prime Minister, who presides over the Cabinet of Minsters, is the Head of the Government and holds executive powers and it was he who we meet at the conference on Digitalisation and Sustainable Tourism (more about that in a separate post).
Renowned for it’s hospitality and lifestyle, there are many places of interest to visit but sadly, I can’t tell you about any of them because we spent all of our time at the hotel in the North. On arrival, the weather was horrendous, torrential rain and a dark grey sky, but the storms tend not to last long, so the sun will shine again even in the wettest months of the year. The airport is located on the South-East coast of the main island which has at a latitude of 20° south, so it’s close to the Tropic and it’s hilly in the interior, which means rainfall increases, whilst along the coast it rains a bit less and there is also a difference between the two sides which is directly affected by the trade winds; in particular, in the cool season, showers are more frequent in the East side (Plaisance) than in the West (Port Louis). It is moving into their winter now, but the temperature, once we got to the South and low cloud disappeared was very warm and sunny.
We stayed in Pamplemousses at Le Meridien hotel which is on the beach, so you get the sea breeze. We didn’t really get a chance to see anything other than the inside of a number of conference rooms and their beach front, although I’m not complaining – their beach area was spectacular. The sea felt quite cold, but very calm and beautifully clear.
Sandman, Mauritian style:-
Where better to do a spot of contemplative fishing of an evening:-
The view from our room:-
The local birds liked the orange segments:-
Pretty passion fruit heavy breakfast:-
The conference was a huge success and we learnt lots and met loads of interesting people. We also found a spare hour for a massage – unfortunately I was unaware that the Ayurvedic massage I chose involved pouring coconut oil onto my forehead and hair – which felt wonderful at the time, but resulted in my having greasy hair for the remainder of our stay. NINE washes it took to finally get all the oil out of my hair.