So here we are, the end of the second full day on Mauritius and we’re still recovering from the journey, licking our wounds in our little guest house on the edge of the lagoon. We’ve
touched down here temporarily until we move into our apartment tomorrow and then that will be home until mid-December.
The flight was smooth enough but a couple of “stress barriers” to get over the first being that we didn’t know whether or not we were inside the weight limit, no scales available at our temporary digs and my dive bag is enormous and it was packed to bursting point. Ultimately no problem though, we were just inside. Then while we were killing time in the lounge at Gatwick I checked the Mauritius visa rules and found that the 90 days that I thought we had were in fact 60; and our flight out was booked after 72 days. So we were a touch nervous about being denied entry, not knowing how strict the immigration authorities may or may not be. But we got in and were told we could extend the duration – relief and a beer or two to recover.
We’re in Mahebourg, a town of 20,000 in the south-east corner of the island and the guide-book wasn’t joking when it said that this is the poor end of the island – it’s a world away from the stereo-typical image of Mauritius. Poorly lit streets, potholes, packs of dogs roaming around, people hanging around on street corners, ancient buses zooming up and down the narrow streets; if you don’t jump out of the way when they sound their horn then you’ll only have yourself to blame. The local building regulations are pretty lax too – how many additional stories can you add with concrete blocks until the foundations can’t take any more? But people couldn’t be more friendly and wandering around after dark (which happens at 18:30) doesn’t feel threatening – but maybe we’re just naïve.
The coastline is amazing though and last night we sat looking out over the scene of the Battle Of Grand Port where the French sent the English packing back in 1810. Bet there are a lot of cannon balls down there!
The waves lap just outside our bedroom window and I wondered how the place survived the cyclones until I remembered that there’s a huge reef out there protecting the shoreline. Sitting on the
terrace at 0530 this morning watching the fishermen go to work you could hear the roar of the open sea on the reef, a bit like the noise of the M25 on a wet morning!
Today we took the (ancient) bus over to Blue Bay and met our new “employers” at Lagon Bleu and learned a little bit more about the operation and what we’ll be doing to help them. We also saw a complete contrast between the resort out there and the poverty of Mahebourg – but more of that later.
The other thing is that there’s a lot of French spoken around here, probably more than English and that includes our new “boss” so that’ll be another skill to brush up on.