Forget what you know, this is the Real Mauritius [PHOTO ESSAY]
There is so much more to Mauritius than we could ever have imagined. Join us on a journey as we discover the Real Mauritius in this photo essay of its beautiful, diverse and friendly people.
On the surface Mauritius was everything we expected – the coastline is lined with luxury resorts – the type you could only dream of, whereas a journey to Port Louis revealed that it has a growing economy. And while our stop at the Bagatelle Mall dished up quite a few South African favorites (including a Spur, Mugg & Bean, Ocean Basket and Panarotti’s), it was the people that really left an impression.
The Real Mauritius
Above: The coconut salesman: On a quiet stretch of road lined with sugar cane on either side, we came across this gentleman selling coconuts. He must have been in his sixties (at least) but wielded a machete with some force to chop open coconuts. We watched as cars pulled up on the side of the road and sped off again – leaving the coconut sales man in their dust as the sugar cane swayed in the afternoon breeze.
Father and son: We escaped the crowds that had gathered at the Champ de Mars Racecourse for the annual Maiden Cup and ended up wandering the abandoned streets of Port Louis when we came across this father and son enjoying a Sunday afternoon stroll through the city.
Flowers and incense: A colorful shop to match its colorful, friendly owner. After first posing awkwardly for the photo, we decided to start asking her questions about the incense she was selling and that seem to loosen her up.
The Chameleon: We should all dress to match our work environment. This pumpkin salesman at Port Louis’ Central market not only matched his produce in color but his smile kind of looks like the pumpkin wedges he stacked around himself.
No horsing around: The Maiden Cup is the biggest horse race in Mauritius and takes place at the Champ de Mars Racecourse (the world’s second oldest racecourse) every year in September. This young lady definitely had her eye on a specific horse and anxiously peered through her binoculars as the horses circled the track. Her proud father told us that she was pretty good at picking a winner.
The Fishermen: Wherever beachfront real estate is not occupied by luxury resorts you find this: Small boats bobbing in turquoise waters as fishermen sit around playing dominos in the midday heat, with one or two more industrious ones mending sails.
No Spitting: A sign that is testament to the fact that the meat and fish section of the Quatre Bornes market might not have the highest standards when it comes to hygiene.
Dogs at sea: We were completely amazed at this scene – this brave little dog, pacing up and down on the edge of the boat, at once took a leap into the water. From maybe 200m out he started swimming to shore. More surprising still – his owner did not seem phased at all.
Solving the world’s problems: Though Mauritius is the most densely populated country on the African continent – constantly bustling in the cities – the roads outside the cities were filled with relaxed scenes like this one. Two men sitting around chatting about life – real relaxed island vibes everywhere.
All in a day’s work: Fishing is hard work – you have to maintain your boat, sail around and cast your nets. But it can’t be all that bad if you get to work in paradise.
Red hot: A view from above the tomato and chili stand at the Port Louis Central Market. The perfect balance between the exotic, vibrance of her chilis and the ordinary job of selling vegetables.
One Alouda Please: A local favorite serving up his family alouda recipe in the Quatre Bornes market. Alouda is a traditional drink containing vanilla, basil seeds, agar jelly and milk served over ice. It is sweet and milky and cold – very refreshing.
Shop houses: While new office blocks dominate the central business district you will find that Port Louis still has many old, textured shop houses. In the past the ground floor would be for business while the family lived upstairs.
The Luckiest Man Alive: A local man shouts at a woman as she walks by. He might not have won the lotto but he seems pretty content sitting around outside this convenience store.
Beauty in Motion: Sega music has its origins as the music of slaves to the island and is usually danced without the feet leaving the ground. Instead the rest of the body moves – and moves it does. It is a beautiful expression of freedom and beauty.
Beans: We met a lot of happy people in Mauritius but this salesman clearly was not having a good day at the Port Louis Central Market.
The Butcher: The precision and speed with which this butcher handled a piece of meat while chatting to his customers was beyond impressive.
Island life: Water laps against a pier as this young boy fishes. All alone and not a care in the world. Surely this is what growing up should be like.
Salt of the Earth: Plastic bags are filled with pool salt at the Tamarin Salt Pans. This is not an easy job, from sweeping salt on the pans outside to gathering it in piles and finally packaging it – it is a very hands-on production process which these workers manage to do with smiles on their faces.
B-A-N-A-N-A-S: Just love how the banana salesman went the extra mile to present his bananas by hanging them from the ceiling.
Intensity: A young girl stares down from the rafters at the horse races below.
Mauritius is beautiful and diverse and exotic – in ways we could never have expected. Its people are warm and friendly and intriguing – in ways we could only get a glimpse of. We fell in love and will definitely be back.
I came across a children’s book at the Sugar Museum and think this summarizes Mauritius and its people perfectly:
So, you see, in our country, there are people of all origins. It is almost as if all the peoples of the world have agreed to meet here.
Planning a Trip to Mauritius?
Then check out this post: Before you leave the comfort of your resort, read this. Find out which tourist traps to avoid, which attractions are touristy but worth it and (for the adventurous) how to uncover secret Mauritius.
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