After some middle India and it’s searing heat – I knew I was headed to Africa. No there is no obvious relationship but I had always wanted to head there and I knew I had some roots here – my dear departed father had after all made a lot of his fortune among these lands. And so here I was all booked for the exotic island nation of Mauritius all booked with a return ticket through that delightful NASDAQ listed Indian travel portal makemytrip.com for Rs. 40,000, $ 590 set to put up at a rather exotic property at a exciting Rs. 2000 approximately $ 30 per night called the Coca Villa. This was situated at the heart of Mahébourg in South Mauritius and a small fishing town near the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.
I caught an Air Mauritius flight, which had all the comforts of a modern airliner but was a bit tacky when it came to it’s audio visual systems . As usual I slept through out the flight and landed in a state between jet lagged and fresh off the plane! On arrival my passage through the immigration was smooth. Mauritius has visa on arrival for Indian Passport holders, given I suppose this African nations long Indian heritage (pdf). All I had to show was my return ticket, my hotel booking vouchers and flash a few American hundred dollar bills to confirm I had enough cash to move around the city and I was done. None of the suspicions and distrust that I had seen with the English!
The Hotel Coca Villa was a typical French type property and I have a room facing the sea and the sunlight shines through the curtains in the morning. I slept through the first few days as has been my general acclimatization agenda and explored some of the eateries when I wasn’t sleeping. After all eat, sleep and drink is a large part of what I do. My way of travelling is to arrive without a plan and as I did here too and let the agenda figure itself out! Mauritius is an interesting place and historically at several times has been under Dutch, French and British occupation as recent at the late 1960s when it gained independence. It has a large population of Indian origin, people who had been brought in by the British in the 18th century as indentured labour to work in the sugar cane fields and Bhojpuri is a language that is spoken here. English and French however are the language of the government and business and most people from here are conversant in both. Sort of like a Canada (where the two main languages are French and English) in Africa!
Walking through the lanes of the city I bumped into a bunch of local policemen and smiled and saluted them and struck up a conversation .” I am Anuj from India, I act in Bollywood films, you know Shah Rukh Khan I acted with him .” Mr. Khan may be less than pleased but immediately connections were made. One cop by the name of Kavi Raj decided that he along with his friends would take me around Mauritius and show me the various spots and exotic locations for a minor fee off course not unlike coppers in my country but infinitely better behaved. We struck a deal and they would drive me around for eight hours a day for a fee of Mauritian Rupee2000 (1 Mauritian Rupee is equivalent to 2 Indian Rupees – damn the economy !) for the day.
First we trekked to the Trou Aux Cerf a dormant Volcano on a hill an hour away from my hotel . This was lush green valley with a deep crevice and right at the centre was a pond full of water that was the mouth of the volcano which had turned into an oasis . The greenery was a clear indication of how fertile this land was rich with minerals due to the volcano’s presence . Pont Naturel was my next stop with an angry sea roaring around a bed a jagged rocks.
I went right in the middle of one of the rocks and was sprayed by sea waves as i danced around my guide the policemen Kavi Raj stood a watched me with amazement. La Cambuse Beach was the next halt where i enjoyed the fresh sugar cane juice and pineapple all for Rs 50 . We decided to see all the beaches in the areaBlue Bay Beach and Le Bouchon Beach was our next destination each full of tourist enjoying steak being grilled on Charcoal and taking selfies. I liked the Japanese tourist the most with their colorful clothes and fancy sunglasses they stand out the most. Dinner was Crab Soup with a Rs. 1000 lobster.
I founded finish the lobster and had it packed as Kavi Raj remarked “ You always order more food then you can finish next time go for smaller portions .” As I noted my friendship with him had just started growing I wondered absent minded about where these cops would take me tomorrow and God alone knows. Till then it’s Mauritus ooh lah lah all the way