|Eden trying out her tube|
After 14 hours of flying with a 2 hour layover in South Africa, we arrived in Mauritius rather tired and cranky. We were picked up by a driver and driven to the apartment we rented for the month in Flic en Flac. We were greeted by our host, Annabelle, who was very nice. As she was showing us around the 3 story, 4 bedroom apartment, I really just wanted to get to bed, so was trying to rush things along. There were bars and “expanders” on each window and door. She explained to us that it was for our security and that we should keep them closed. Once we got back downstairs we were all surprised to see close to a thousand ants coming out of a crack in the floor and baseboard. Needless to say I was pretty grossed out. I am one some might call a neat freak and don’t really like bugs. Annabelle gasped and grabbed a broom and a dustpan to sweep the LIVE ants up. I asked if she had bug spray to kill them first. I wasn’t really sure how you could sweep up that many live ants, or got the point of not killing them. She got the spray and killed them and then swept them up. She acted very surprised about this and said that with the change of season the ants do come out. Having grown up in Hawaii, which has a similar climate I had never heard of that, but okay. Once she left we went straight to bed. In the light of day we got a much clearer look at the apartment. It was big but it needed a good cleaning. The night before Anabelle had told us that a cleaning lady would be coming by twice a week to clean the apartment and linens. Looking around I thought, “What the heck does the cleaning lady do!” Justin and I debated on whether or not to leave right there and then. We decided to go walk around the neighborhood to see how it was before we make a decision. Let me give you a slight side note: On our drive from the airport we drove through some neighborhoods that I would call depressed. The buildings were dilapidated, and in the empty lots between there was tons of debris and trash. So while walking around we were not surprised to see the same things, but just to a milder degree. There was even spikes and barbed wire around the top of the wall of the apartment complex where the apartment was located. The apartment is located about a block and a half from the beach. Once we got to the beach we walked around and I thought it was pretty nice. We headed back and went to the grocery store along the way. In the store Justin and I had a private conversation, and by that I mean away from our kiddos, about if we should stay or not. I felt like I should buck up and try to make it work. I told Justin that I would buy some cleaning products, bug killer and rubber gloves and try to make the place better. Once back at the apartment with rubber gloves in position, I proceeded to spray every threshold and baseboard down with bug killer, and then spent 5 hours cleaning the entire place. Once done I looked around and thought, “Ok, this could work.” I went to take a shower and when I was done Justin told me that Annabelle and her husband were here. I went down to talk to her and decided not to be shy about the place. I told her very bluntly that I had sprayed and cleaned the whole place and to my surprise she said, “Yeah I can tell, the place looks so nice.” WHAT!!! If you can tell I cleaned then you have a big problem. I told her that I did not want the cleaning lady to come because as far as I could tell all she did was sit around for a few hours while the laundry was getting done, because cleaning she was not. They apologized profusely. By the way, they had stopped by to drop off more bug killer and dinner. The food was pretty good but I can’t remember the name of it to save my life. It consisted of these tortilla like items that had crushed beans between the layers and had 3 different sauces to put on them. One of the sauces had potatoes and beans and tasted very much like curry, I really liked that one. The kids liked the tomato one that I thought was less flavorful and Justin really liked the spicy one. After dinner we went to bed bug free. Well, the freedom from bugs didn’t last long because when I got up the next morning I noticed some bugs on the kitchen counter and on the baseboards in the stairs. Poop!! I had hoped they were gone. So I sprayed and cleaned those areas again. It was raining on and off that day but the kids still managed to go swimming in the pool and went to play tennis at the courts in the complex. While Justin and I headed up to bed we noticed a 2 inch long cockroach on the wall. I grew some cahones and killed the roach but before the final death blow it decided to crawl over my hand. YUCK, YUCK, YUCK!! The following day I made eggs benedict from scratch to try to lighten everyone’s mood, mine included, and have some fun. Caleb decided to help me. When we had arrived Anabelle had told me to clean the dishes before using them because as she said it “the maid cleaned them and I don’t know how that is.” Weird, but once I had cleaned the apartment I had understood the comment. So I pulled out the pots, pans, and utensils to clean first. Much to my horror a couple of roaches came out of the cabinets too. I tried to hide the fact from Caleb and killed them. I scoured the dishes and got to work. Oddly enough breakfast turned out pretty well and everyone loved it. Since the weather wasn’t great we just stayed at the apartment and swam in the pool. We watched a movie and the electricity went out. Once I got the candle lit, the electricity came back on. I went into the kitchen and found more ants on the counter. This was it, with what I had found and killed all day, I lost it. I found Justin and had a complete meltdown. Crying I told him I couldn’t take it anymore, that I had killed so many ants and roaches that I was so repulsed. And being literally behind bars was more than I could take. I would not do well in prison, luckily I am a rule follower. Justin said he felt the same and we decided to see if we had other options available. We found three and emailed each of them. After looking at the responses we decided that the best thing to do to actually enjoy Mauritius and have a nice comfortable time we needed to change apartments. Justin found a great option and they were able to have us move in the next day. We took it. The following morning we packed up and left under the eagle eye of yet another mega roach. We also contacted Annabelle and told her our plans. She did not seem surprised to say the least.
|Joel and Caleb lining up the snails for a race|
About a 1 hour drive later we arrived at Domaine des Alizees in Grand Baie. We had made an arrangement with Bryan, the property manager, to look at the place first before booking. Burned once, ok, but we learned from that. I walked in and it was as if the heavens parted and started to sing. The place was immaculate. There are no bars in sight. We walked around the whole place taking our time to open cabinets and drawers. It seemed rather nice and definitely more upscale then where we had come from. There was even a splash pool on our deck. We decided to stay and “signed on the dotted line”. I unpacked everything and then off we went to the pool. The following morning everyone was in a great mood. It is amazing what a night of sleeping soundly really does. We decided to go to the beach. Now although this place is gorgeous and clean, we are still about 4 km from the beach, but lucky for us this place comes with a free shuttle ride to the resorts private beach club, very swanky. So off we went. When we arrived I was blown away by the beach. Now, having grown up in Hawaii, I am very picky about the beach. Justin even calls me a beach snob. This beach would rank in my top 3. The water is a beautiful, light blue and the sand is soft, fine and white, absolutely stunning. We situated ourselves in a couple of lounge chairs under an umbrella and enjoyed the day. I couldn’t wait and headed straight for the water. I was completely content swimming around and floating in the Indian Ocean. I couldn’t believe that I was actually IN the Indian Ocean. I have always dreamed of coming to an island here and it was a great feeling to have that dream realized. Justin and the kids followed and Justin was totally amazed at how easily he could float, I was too for that matter. Justin is what I consider a sinker. As much as I have tried I just could not get him to float, until now, and boy was he enjoying that. He finally understood what all the fuss is about. Also, Joel and Danielle, my mini sinkers can float too! We all went snorkeling and
|Danielle can float!! (she usually sinks)|
saw lots of fish, tons of sea urchins in purples, yellows, blues and browns, some sea cucumbers, and even an eel. I had a great time listening to the kids get excited about what they were looking at. I had mentioned to the kids that I had wanted them to pick an animal, indigenous to Mauritius, that they were interested in and that they would research it, write a paper and do a presentation about. Well, the kids immediately started to discuss what they wanted to do their project on. Earlier in the day I had noticed a guy going in the water with a spear gun. I figured this might be interesting to watch him come out of the water and see if he had caught anything. Luckily for us he had. I went over and started to talk to him and asked if the kids could come over to see his catch. His name is Billy and he is so nice. He explained to the kids what each fish was, a parrot fish, a captain, a fallen maiden and a barracuda, he also showed them how to scale and gut each fish. He told us that he can only get the big fish like that on the other side of the barrier. The kids were very intrigued and asked him a ton of questions. We had some snacks and a light lunch and ended up staying until the last shuttle ride back to our place. By the time we got home the kids were pleasantly exhausted.
The following day we headed out to explore the closest shopping center to us. We walked 1.6 km to the center and decided to continue the 2 extra blocks to the sea. The area we are at is called Grand Baie. Once we arrived at the ocean we understood why the city is called Grand Baie. The bay is so pretty, again with that magnificent light blue color. The entire island of Mauritius is surrounded by a large coral barrier and the area between the coral and the shore is considered a lagoon. The waves break at the coral barrier, so the water from there to the shore is completely still. The water is so clear that you can see straight to the bottom without any problems, which the kids had discovered the day before when it was very obvious if you decided to pee in the ocean, let’s just say it’s NOT a secret. We looked around a couple of shops then picked up some groceries and headed home. We have decided to go to the beach every other day and stay put or explore the days in between. We returned to the beach and Justin rented a paddle board. It was so easy to do since the water is so calm. We each took a turn, even Eden rode on the front of it while I paddled around. It was a great way to view the sea life without needing to stick your face in the water.
Today we ended up staying at the apartment and going to the great pool. The resort has a walkway that is over one big shallow pool. As you walk along it, it is dotted with small pavilions that have
|Walkway to the apartment pool|
tables and chairs for the restaurant. Then off to one side is the pool area that contains one large, rectangular pool well suited for laps and another curvy pool that has 3 different levels and a long bench. I did need to explain to Eden that she could only go into the 2 pools here not the ones around the walkway. The response I got from her was “Awww, why not.” Well because that is technically not a pool, just a water feature. Today there was literally no one around, it felt like it was our own private pool. We decided to go out for dinner and try a restaurant that Billy and his wife Romaine had recommended to us. We hired a taxi because after driving from the airport to Flic en Flac we made the choice to not rent a car. They drive on the left and somewhat erratically. Unfortunately, the place was closed but our driver recommended another restaurant called La Rougaille Creole. It was magnificent. Their specialty is rougaille (a tomato based creole sauce) and lobster. I got the shrimp rougaille, Justin got the lobster, Joel got the braised lamb, Caleb the shrimp curry and the girls got pasta chicken. All of it was so good. And to top things off there was live music. They finish the meal by offering you a shot of house made rum, absolutely delicious. We all had a wonderful time eating, listening to music and watching Eden dance.
|Seafood dinner at La Rougaille Creole. Yum!|
So here are a couple of observations. Eden has a lot of people talk to her. Everyone is intrigued by her eyes. She has even had several photos taken with her. People stop and ask to pose with Eden. Most of the time she is fine with it but sometimes she gets very timid. The other thing is, I have had a huge eye opener coming to Mauritius. I was not ready for the poverty that is here. It has really stuck me at how absolutely lucky I am to have had a wonderful upbringing, a great education, a job I wanted to do, 5 gorgeous and kind children, a great husband who not only loves us tremendously but has provided us with everything we could need and want and had this to do in a country that allows people so much opportunity. By far, Mauritius has impacted me more than anyplace we have visited thus far, in so many ways.
We have discovered that we had been mispronouncing Mauritius when we saw a sign that read “Mauritius, it’s so delicious”. Ohhhh, it rhymes with delicious.
|Eden loves the beach|
|We finally found a Coke with Caroline's name on it|
|Making music by banging on logs. Caleb calls it logarithms|
|Trou aux Biches beach|
|Enjoying some raspberries on the beach|