Mauritius: A Long Way from Home

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Going away on holidays is great. The less exciting aspect is that you actually have to travel to where you’re holidaying. The only trips where it’s all about the journey and not the destination usually involve a really short commute to where you’re going. Spending hours and hours confined in an incredibly small space on a noisy tin can is definitely not going to be the highlight of anyone’s year. I’ve been furiously repressing the memories of all the endless flights we took around the world, but they inevitably come rushing back as we arrive in Dublin airport to set off on what we’re hoping is going to be one of the better holidays we’ve ever been on.

We quickly find that hauling around an awkwardly shaped box containing an expensive dress that mustn’t be creased is a royal pain for maneuvering through queues and security checks. It’s a relief to get onto a plane and be able to leave the box down somewhere. But as soon as you find somewhere safe to stow the box someone follows after you and jams a heavy suitcase on top so fast that all you can do is glower at them after the fact.  After a short hop to Paris we swelter for an hour in a glasshouse terminal before boarding a second plane bound for Mauritius. Our luck improves as this flight is not full. The two gentlemen seated in front of us are removed to other seating for some unknown reason. As soon as the plane is ready to hit the runway I make a dash to claim their abandoned seats before one of the other interested parties does so. We now have two seats each, though I’m still coveting the row of 4 seats that a single lady has obtained all for herself.

Inflight entertainment for the flight is woeful. To the extent that neither of us watch anything. The airplane food is suprisingly good though. We make it through the lengthy hours, but there are some rough patches. Two seats are just enough space to get some extremely uncomfortable rest. Three seats are what’s needed to really stretch out in relative comfort. We make do and endure the bouts of claustrophobia that the lack of sufficient sleep generates. The plane crawls achingly slowly across the map until I get sick of the depressing rate of progress and switch the displays off. As the flight lands we wonder how we would have survived with just two seats between us. I guess we’ll find out on the way back, which we’re already dreading.

As soon as we exit the baggage area we’re bustled off to a taxi by one of the tour operators that represents our agency. We find ourselves in one manned by a driver who has no fear of death whatsoever. We hurtle along the roads at such speed that even Brodie is starting to look a bit nervous. In case that’s not enough to keep us on the edge of our seats, we consistently overtake anything that moves in front of us, regardless of blind spots or other oncoming traffic. Somehow the driver manages not to rear-end any of the cars he tailgates whilst keeping up a running commentary on how many people live in poverty on the island. We don’t seem to be sufficiently impressed by the sight of the rocks in the river where he tells us that some people wash their clothes. We’ve been up for many long hours by this time and don’t have the energy to discuss with him how we came here to relax, not be lectured on world poverty before we’ve even had a chance to see anything of the island.

mauritius-beach

Thankfully the fast pace means we’re soon at the decadent hotel reception where our suitcases are taken away and we’re guided to sit by the pool and sip on fruit juice while someone takes care of the pesky registration process and goes in search of an available room for us. Some time later our registrar returns and slowly leads us around to where we’ll be staying. She moves at the pace of  a snail. Her shoes are flats, but she inches along as if she’s tottering on really high heels. This explains the length of her absence when checking if our room was available. But she does eventually lead us to a nice spacious room where we quickly ditch our belongings and climb into bed for a couple of hours. We’re barely up and moving again before we’re inundated with messages delivered from the staff that are supplemented with phone calls we receive before the messages they relate to. We might not be in a hurry to plan the finer details of having a wedding, but our wedding planner is apparently raring to go. I agree that we’ll meet her shortly and we go clean ourselves up into a semi-presentable state.

Our wedding planner is really nice. But she’s also very interested in the minor fussy details that we’re not really that worried about. It doesn’t help that she starts off the discussions by presenting me with a colossal book of possible bouquet arrangements. After two hours sleep in the last 36, this is really not that high on our list of priorities right now. The flower arrangements only seem to get more elaborate as I progress through the book. I’m not sure if I want to see how this one ends. I go back to the start and select a relatively simple and straightforward white flower option. This should be currently in season, but apparently I must choose an alternative option. Fine – the pink arrangement on the next page. “The second choice is very similar to the first..”, our planner says, doubtfully. She’s looking less enthusiastic about dealing with us. “Yes,” we agree, “it is…”. After a pointed silence she sadly notes the choices down and thankfully moves on. Luckily there are only two choices of wedding cakes. When it comes to time of day, I’m already armed with the photographers suggestion of a 3pm start to make the most of the light. “Ok, between 3 and 4” she says. I’m starting to wonder how much of what we say is actually registering in her world. As to when we want to have the toast… there’s a toast?! She offers us a look of pity. We’re obviously not conforming to the expected standard of having actually thought in detail about what’s traditionally expected as part of a ceremony. We thought the whole idea of a wedding planner was that someone else would sweat over those details, or preferably just eliminate them from the agenda altogether  I guess not.

Happily we’re all in agreement that the beach is a good location for doing the deed. We embark on a trek northwards to where we’re advised we will find a good spot.Unfortunately it’s been raining solid for an hour previous to now so the walk takes twice as long to allow for dodging puddles. We collect an array of muddy spatter marks that decorates our clothes. We’re told it doesn’t usually rain. Here’s hoping this assurance has some truth behind it. Especially seeing as she’s telling us how cold and miserable this last winter has been compared to usual. When we finally reach it, the location is great. There’s a small exclusive restaurant at the very northern tip of the beach and a quiet stretch of sand just in front of it where things are nice and peaceful. A lone bench marks the ideal spot. This area also gives the option of retreating indoors if need be. Which just might be necessary judging by the weather so far. With this much finalised we’re free to go in search of dinner which turns out to be a suitably impressive array of buffet options and a dessert selection that makes most people’s eyes light up. We think we can get accustomed to living like this for a couple of weeks…

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