Marvellous Mauritius

Our time in Mauritius was divided–we had 1 day before leaving for Madagascar and 3 days after. We arrived in Mauritius quite late at night and got in a cab towards a hotel we had booked on Expedia near the entrance of the national park I wanted to hike in the following day. As we got further into the journey, the cab driver got more and more concerned, as the hotel was much further than he expected and the route was getting more and more unfamiliar, rainy, and rough. Eventually we got 3km from the hotel when the google maps route brought us to the beginning of a washed out 4WD track. It became clear that the cab driver was not willing to take his new car up this road and we were not walking 3km in the rain at 11pm so we were forced to backtrack all the way back past the airport to a more accessible resort on the beach in Blue Bay. 

We woke up and explored the resort we had taken refuge in, after enjoying our first big American breakfast buffet in a long time. We spent all morning on the beach that looked out over the gorgeous turquoise blue bay.

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Just 10 ft from the shore, the snorkelling was on par with some of the spots I went to at the Great Barrier Reef! It took us 2 drink orders with super long awkward waits for no bill to realize we were at an all inclusive, which certainly altered our consumption for the rest of the day. In the afternoon we went on the resort boat to the middle of the bay for more snorkelling and were again blown away by the sheer number of fish surrounding the boat the moment we hit the water. Though not underwater, the coolest thing I saw was a school of jumping fish, skipping 2 ft out of the water in synchro for more than 100m.

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We snuck in a couple games of bocce ball over the course of the day after getting hooked in Rodrigues. I allowed Nick to win our best of 3 tournament so that he will continue to play with me in the future. As dinner was not yet served before our airport taxi was due, we had no choice but to indulge in the resort crepe bar for dinner–oops!

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Returning to Mauritius after Madagascar was pure luxury. We arrived in the morning and headed straight for our beach villa to reunite with the family. The villa turned out to be unbelievably nice and perfectly situation on the beach in Trou-Aux-Biche, complete with a private pool!

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We spent the afternoon in the sun and enjoying the beautiful villa. We walked on the beach into town for lunch; unfortunately I got sick from the fish I ate at lunch and had to sleep off the bug for the remainder of the day. All I can say is, better there than anywhere else we had stayed–I had the luxury of recovering in my to-die-for king size bed.

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I woke up feeling better and we soaked in the last couple hours at our dream vacation home before our taxi arrived at 12 to take us to Curepipe. Nick’s grandfather lived in Mauritius for over 20 years before moving to Rodrigues and still has an apartment in Curepipe–one of the larger mainland towns on the island. The apartment itself is like a museum with loads of trinkets and antiques!

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In the afternoon we explored the local market and then headed up to Trou-Aux-Cerfs, the local crater site. To me, what makes the landscape of Mauritius so beautiful and unique is the gorgeous green mountains all over the island. Despite being one of the most densely populated islands on earth for its size, the massive sugar cane fields still make the whole island very green and lush.

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Nick’s cousins flew out early on our last day on the island and our flight was not until 1030PM so we had one last day to explore! It was finally time for me to get my redemption from Night 1 and visit my National Park. We did a 2 hour hike with a stope for picnic lunch at a nice river and continued on a scenic drive past Le Morne–a world renowned kitesurfing spot!

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The next stop was Mauritius’ famous Chamarel Waterfall that has been all over my pinterest for ages. It was just as beautiful in real life!

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Next door to the waterfall is the 7 Coloured Earth, which reminded me of Caledon badlands. The colours were created through the transition of basaltic acid to clay minerals.

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And that marked the last hours of our incredible vacation. I can say with certainty that I will also be returning to Mauritius…with a diving license! I’m so thankful to have had such a good excuse to come to part of the world and spend it with such lovely company. Until next time!

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Relaxing in Rodrigues

After a 30 hour trek beginning Thursday evening, we arrived on Saturday afternoon in Rodrigues–the small Mauritiuan island of ~30,000 people where Nick’s grandfather Hans lives. We were greeted by his grandfather and uncle, who drove us to Hans’ beautiful home on the top of the mountain. We got settled in and enjoyed a lovely welcome dinner with Nick’s family–his grandfather, sister in from London, and aunt, uncle, and cousins from Frankfurt.

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The next day was slated to be a recovery day by the pool to soak up the sun. Unfortunately I soaked in a little too much despite copious amounts of sunscreen. It is hard to take things like sun in moderation after being deprived all winter long! Rodrigues is quite mountainous and rocky; there are beaches, however, most are not as big as other tropical islands. There is little man-made intervention to cultivate beaches where they are not naturally occurring, as tourism has not yet taken off like it has in Mauritius. With a view like ours, swimming in the pool is not too shabby!

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In the afternoon, we headed into the village to watch a ceremony commemorating Mauritius’s 49th anniversary of independence from Britain. Though Mauritius was most recently controlled by Britain, France also had control at one point. Mauritian people mostly speak French and Creole–a localized spinoff of French. To my own surprise, I spoke more French on this trip than I spoke in my four years living in Montreal! Also to my surprise, I got by! I am actually inspired to continue practicing, as I realize its usefulness for travel more and more (I hear you dad, you told me so).

The next morning we headed to the island’s tortoise sanctuary. All of the native tortoises on Rodrigues became extinct when humans first arrived and began developing their habitats and enjoying turtle soup a little too much. The sanctuary was created to reintroduce the two native species of tortoise to Rodrigues and is now home to over 600 turtles!

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They are very gentle and enjoy humans rubbing their head and neck quite a lot. The oldest tortoise was 80 years old and it only seemed fitting that Nick’s grandfather get a picture given his upcoming 80th birthday later in the week. 

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We enjoyed a nice lunch at the restaurant on-site and set out on a scenic drive to a new bridge used for zip line with the end goal of finding a place to swim in the ocean.

2017-03-13_05-43-12_738We quickly learned that car mishaps are far more enjoyable in Rodrigues than in Canada! We nearly got the car stuck on a “backroad” composed of two concrete tracks and were forced against our will to spend a couple minutes waiting on this hillside with an ok view.

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Next, we got a flat tire on the way to the beach and were again “forced” to go for a group swim in the ocean next to the road as the tire was switched out. A horrible life!

On Tuesday we set out early for Coco island–not far off the coast of Rodrigues. The island has been protected as a bird sanctuary for reasons I’m not sure of, as the tour was in French ha. We enjoyed a sunny day on the white sandy beach and in the warm Indian Ocean nonetheless. I still owe Hans (Nick’s Opa) a bottle of champagne for my last place finish in our game of beach bocce ball. 

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We enjoyed a nice breakfast in town on Wednesday morning at a small cafe owned by a German expat. Afterwards, we explored the local market, which sells mostly produce, meat, fish, and souvenirs. We caught some rays by the pool in the afternoon before heading to Zumba! Nicks Aunt Susan had taken the class the week prior with a local friend of Hans’ and insisted we tried. I was even able to drag Nick along, as we had listened to our favourite podcast (How I Built This) on the inception of Zumba a few weeks ago. The class was packed full of locals and seeing Nick shake his butt on the big stage to Latin music was priceless. We enjoyed a nice dinner out in the evening; Nick and I both learned to never order crab when you are very hungry–too much work. 

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Thursday was spent preparing for Hans’ 80th birthday bash. I must say, I could have gotten used to doing more chores for my parents growing up if I could do them outside in a bikini, and some even in the pool!

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We had around 35 guests in total arrive for a great night of eating, drinking, and dancing. There was an amazing live band that began the night with jazz and transitioned into classic country later on. All in all, the party was a wild success and I certainly hope be partying that hard at 80!

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For our final day in Rodrigues, we chose Trou D’argent, the islands most beautiful beach. It was as picturesque as promised and offered sizeable waves for us to play in. The bay is far less sheltered than other beaches in Rodrigues, with no coral reef protecting it, and we quickly realized the strength of the current when we put our head up from snorkelling and had drifted 40m. We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch on the beach before heading back to the house to pack for the airport.

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I loved Rodrigues for its stunning beauty that is relatively untouched by tourism. I can count on 2 hands the number of tourists we saw from western countries–there were a number of tourists from Mauritius and Reunion. In Rodrigues, people are certainly operating on island time–shops closed by 4, and always on Sundays. Most of all the island was made special by our stay at Hans’ beautiful local home with great company! 

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