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République de Maurice

Friday, November 18, 2011
Le Morne Brabant, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 
Okay.  This is kinda neat.  Well for me anyway.
A day or so ago, I had just finished shopping (or so I thought) in one of the wholesale sections of Paris when I turned slightly to my left and got slapped in the face with a super cute jacket on a mannequin in the window of a non-descript storefront.  Naturally I walked across the street as the jacket called my name.  "Come in," said a friendly man who was sitting between a few boxes while chatting on the telephone.  "Quel est le prix?," I asked pointing to the jacket.  He quoted me...("Good price," I thought) and walked in.
Flag of Mauritius
I'm still not sure how we got off of the topic of the jacket and ended up talking about food, Los Angeles, Atlanta (where he lived for 9 years), the economy, and his 2 hour commute to work every day, but Maurice was quite the departure from the often surly predominantly Chinese merchants I encounter while shopping (no matter what part of the world I'm in, BTW).  Ultimately, Maurice told me he was from Mauritius, an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometres (560 mi) east of Madagascar.  [Love you Wiki; muah!] 

What might (or might not) interest you is Maurice doesn't consider himself Black or African.  He referred to both my husband and I in the same context as he did himself and referred to Black people as those from Mali, Ethiopia, etc.; i.e., new immigrants to France.  Our skin color was the same, I might add.  #interesting

Having just returned from World Travel Market London, it just so happens that I was re-introduced to Mauritius just a week or so ago and now again with Maurice.  And it is for this reason that I'd like to share with you 10 interesting facts about Mauritius (from three sources noted below).  Just because. 
  1. Mauritius is officially known as the Republic of Mauritius also known as République de Maurice.
  2. The main languages spoken in Mauritius are Mauritian Creole, French and English.  Mauritian society includes people from many different ethnic groups. The republic's residents are the descendants of people from India (Indo-Mauritian), continental Africa (Mauritian Creole people usually known as 'Creoles' in Mauritian Creole), France (Franco-Mauritian) and China (Sino-Mauritian), among other places.
  3. The country's populace is composed of several ethnicities, including Indian, African, Chinese and French with a population of 1.2 million. The first European explorers found no indigenous people living on the island.
  4. Le Morne Brabant (the main photo above) is a peninsula at the extreme south-western tip of Mauritius is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; in the 19th century, runaway slaves used Le Morne Brabant as a hideaway. 
  5. Every Mauritian is brought up with the Sega dance. With its rhythmic, lively music and colourful Creole lyrics, the Sega is regarded nationally as a dance that expresses freedom and ' joie de vivre'.  Despite this ‘feel-good’ vibe, it is interesting to note that the dance actually originated from slaves brought from Africa.
  6. Dodo Bird [extinct]
  7. The island of Mauritius is renowned for having been the only known home of the now extinct dodo bird.
  8. The first recorded visit on the island was by Arab sailors in the Middle Ages; the Portugese arrived in 1511 but weren't really interested in laying claim; the Dutch named it Mauritius in 1598 and all attempts at settlement basically failed and they abandoned the island in 1710; the French took control in 1715; the British took over in 1810; Mauritius became independent in 1968; and became a republic in 1992.  It is politically stable.
  9. Tourism in Mauritius tends to be high end tourism, with a focus on coastal resorts and diving.  It is a world class diving destination.
  10. The monetary unit is the Mauritian Rupee (Rs.) which is divided into 100 cents (cs).
  11. The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Indian, African, Chinese and European influences. It is common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.  Sugarcare was first introduced by the Dutch and the production of rum is widespread on the island.
I have to go back to see Maurice next week (to pick up those jackets), so I imagine we'll have lots more to talk about now that I'm up on some of the basics of his homeland.  And of course, now I want to go to Mauritius.  Of course. 
À bientôt...

Sources:  1. Discover Mauritius 2. Wiki 3. Mauritius Tourism Office


Aqueelah on: November 21, 2011 at 2:14 PM said...

Sounds like our kind of place, Tracey. Although I haven't traveled half as much as you, I do a lot of reading and am fascinated with places like Mauritania where there is much diversity and cultural commonality. Can't wait until "we" get there.

Aqueelah on: November 21, 2011 at 2:17 PM said...



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