Fredo would probably not easily have visited Maurice, as its French speaking population calls it. For most other people it is Mauritius, an island in the Pacific Ocean, some 5 hours by air from Cape Town.
Fredo, and Janey, got there because our son Johno tied the knot there with Julie last week. Johno can be very persuasive – and that is how Fredo and Janey booked a flight last week to get to the island.
Getting there was a bit of a nightmare – see Fredo’s blog on the late night flight that became an early morning one, written at 38 000 feet, in a cramped seat at the back of the plane.
In the end Fredo and Janey landed safely, got to the beautiful La Victoria resort and in the end ended up having a very good time.
The arrival terminal at the international airport if brand new and receive many international flights. This is tourist country and around the coast there are resorts and golf courses to die for. The coral reef, which keeps all the nasty fish such as sharks away from the internal pools where the tourist snorkel and swim to their hearts delight, surrounds the island. The water is calm and blue. The sunsets are the best one can see anywhere in the world.
La Victoria was great and the staff extremely friendly. With everyone around us catching onto the island holiday spirit, the mood is jovial and you meet many new friends. So we met Pieter ‘Moorreesburg’ Botha, a lawyer from the town of that name and his wife Lynette. Janey and Lynette celebrated their birthdays on the same day. That naturally gave cause for another celebration.
The greatest moment belonged to Johno and Julie, swearing eternal love and loyalty to each other on the beach. All of us in summer gear (with our toes in the soft sand)! But with the couple looking smart and slick while the sun was setting behind them.
If you are not married yet, this is one you can give a try. Or for old time’s sake, take your beautiful wife there and promise all over again.
Tips for travellers
Tips for the traveller – make sure you book an all-inclusive package – accommodation, food and drink. If you do that you do not need to take any money with you accept if you want to buy a few presents. There is no tipping at the hotel – what a difference that makes. Presents you can buy on the beach where the vendors come around. They try and convince you to buy anything from arm bands, seashells or musical instruments, to clothing in bright island style.
At night there is plenty of music and you can sit outside till late. Be ready for the heat, a mugginess that drives you to another beer to cool down.
As you drive across the island, the sugar cane fields stretches everywhere. There are some fascinating mountain peaks. The roads are narrow, there are speed traps everywhere and outside Port Louis, the capital, lots of roundabouts. In the little towns and villages islanders sell their fruit and vegetables, and other items, virtually on the road. Because there is no off-road parking, some people just stop in the middle of the road, get out and do their shopping, not worrying what is happening behind them.
When you leave it is in a bus with plenty of new friends. At the airport there is a mad scramble as busses arrive from everywhere around the island. A huge double-decker Airbus of Air France in on the tarmac and waits to be filled. At Air Mauritius there are not many check-in points, so you stand and wait.
And then there was the disappointment
Fredo’s quest for better seats – an effort to get two seats at the emergency exit – is a frustrating one. “We cannot give you those seats,” they say. We asked why not – if they are not allocated already surely they must be available. Eventually we were told – ‘you can have it for 4 000 Rupees (R2000.00). Fredo was furious but facing five hours in those narrow seats was too much. So he paid and we had a relatively nice flight. However, Air Mauritius, you should know that we think you have scammed us – not nice!
Even that could not deter the fact that this was a great experience. Those family photos on the beach, great food, friendly people, will stay with us for ever. The only thing that can improve is the airline – Air Mauritius. They easily cancel your flight, trick you into paying more than you should and that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.