Here at Caribtours we’re all dyed-in-the-wool travel fanatics, united in our passion for travel and love of the culture and the landscapes of the regions we feature.
For some of us though, the bond to these places runs much deeper. Keshma, from our finance team, was born and grew up in Mauritius. We had a chat to her about what she misses, how the island has changed since her childhood and the joys of fish curry…
How long did you live in Mauritius?
I was born and brought up in Mauritius. I left when I was 20 and eventually settled in the UK.
What are the best things about growing up in Mauritius?
There are so many. Living with an extended family, whereby all uncles, aunties and cousins live in the same yard or even under the same roof was great. I was lucky to live amongst all of my relatives until I was 11. We still have the brotherly/sisterly bond even now; that togetherness in all family functions is really amazing!
When I was a child, I also used to have swimming lessons at the seaside. I could literally see the stunning beaches from the window of my classroom.
All of the exotic fruits we had were fantastic, especially the mangoes and lychees that were available during the summer holidays. We used to pick them and then eat them under the shade of a tree. Not bad for a summer holiday task!
What do you miss now that you live in the UK?
Without a second thought, the weather! It’s never too cold in Mauritius. Then of course I miss the beautiful sandy beaches; the food; socialising on the beach with a light breeze, rather than the Friday pub.
We also definitely have more bank holidays. Mauritius is multi-cultural, and we have public holidays on festive days for all religious beliefs.
Last but not least, barbecue for Christmas dinner, with a perfect temperature of 28 – 30 degrees Celsius!
How does life differ in Mauritius compared to the UK?
Local people in Mauritius are so much more laid back compared to the UK. I’m also always surprised by the difference in the way people commute on public transport in both countries. Compared to the total silence on a packed train in the UK, everyone seems to know each other in Mauritius… on a bus it can get very noisy at times.
Also, in Mauritius, friends and relatives would just pop into your house randomly. They’ll invite themselves in and it’s just something very normal to be hospitable to guests. It’s just normal to expect people anytime and Mauritians love that!
Has the island changed much since you were a child?
I would say dramatically. There are lots more modern houses, shopping malls, department stores and restaurants now. The country’s economy has done really well over the last few years, so there are many new offices around and more jobs for people. Most families are able to spend weekends or even a week in a hotel and enjoy all the facilities which wasn’t the case before.
Any advice for the first time visitor to the island?
When you’re packing for your holiday make sure you put in plenty of sleeveless tops, shorts or miniskirts and light clothes etc. No matter if it’s summer or winter in Mauritius, a sun tan is definitely on the cards. If you like to party, Grand Baie (in the north of the country) is the place.
What do you think are the must see places for visitors, or are there any hidden gems you can share?
I think for any visitor the must see places are Chamarel, Black River Gorges National Park and the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden.
My favourite locations are Le Morne Beach and Maconde in the south west which have breathtaking views. The drive from Grand Bassin (a lake with huge statues of Hindu gods and goddesses) to Le Morne is just stunning. Chamarel and Black River Gorges are on the way as well so this can be done in day.
A hidden gem for me is ‘La Roche qui Pleure’ near Gris Gris, in Souillac in the south of the country. It has outstanding views of the ocean and resembles a crying man – it’s an amazing natural feature.
Can you recommend any traditionally Mauritian food or drink that you think the world should know about?
It has to be Alouda which is similar to milkshake but has ice cream on top to cool you down even more. I also think Dhol Puri - very fine roti with yellow peas filling and some mild curries - at Bazaar Port Louis is a must. It’s one of the most famous markets in the country’s main city. You should also try Poisson Masala Bringelle as well. A fresh fish curry with Mauritian spices and aubergine – Yummy!