Travelling is all about getting the feel of the place, more about living the experience. Not just visiting the so called ‘tourist attractions’. When you are there, everywhere is a tourist attraction, you just need to start looking for it. The first step is to get out of the rented cars and cabs, and get in the local mode of transport, one which the people uses, because unless you live the life the way they do, you cannot live the actual experience the way it is. So on my way back from Sky Dive Austral, I took a bus to Port Louis.
Actually Anwar, my taxi driver when dropped me at Austral, told me to take a bus to Grand Bay from there, as Grand Bay is the main tourist attraction in Mauritius with Beaches, resorts, hotels, restaurants, pubs. But when the Belgian owner of the Sky Dive Austral, dropped me at the village bus station, the bus to Grand Bay had already left. The next bus to come was for Port Louis, which I boarded and after some 40 minutes I was at the central hub of Mauritius.
The bus ride was fun and pretty cheap as well. Where the taxi would have come at around 500-600 Mauritian Rupees, the bus only cost me 25 Mauritian Rupee and gave me a hands on experience on travelling in Mauritius. Passing through the local street in local transport, admiring the Colonial French local architecture with the locals, is an experience not to be missed. Maneuvering in the clean and narrow streets, the bus ride showed me the Mauritian way of life, which I must say seemed pretty relaxed.
Port Louis is a happening place with markets, people, reasturants and what not. There is an Apravasi Ghat, which was inaugurated by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to acknowledge the slaves which were taken by British to Mauritius. There is nothing in particular to do there.
Anyways at Port Louis while waiting for my boss, and roaming around I had the chance to try my hand at Mauritian street food, which ironically is chapati [call it roti or Indian pan cakes, whatever you like]. Actually it was more of parantha roll served with some sauce; came pretty cheap, was a quick fix for a snack and I liked it.
When my boss picked me up for grand bay, I didn’t know it will be scuba pit stop, and after enquiring with few, before we realized, after a brief lesson both of us were already in the middle of the ocean preparing for the dive. Although this was something I had planned to do, but for my boss it was little unexpected. He was not prepared for it and it was on my insistence that he jumped, but as soon as he did, he panicked and even before I knew he was out of water, back in the boat.
A word of caution, scuba does appear to be simpler, but it has more complications then sky dive and is not just about swimming in the ocean with an oxygen cylinder behind your back. There are intricacies involved, which coupled with the fact that you fall backward in the water from boat, with your head over heels you don’t understand what actually happened, was the reason for my boss freaking out. Also he doesn’t know how to swim, but that doesn’t matter as scuba is not about swimming but sinking. Anyways scuba was an altogether different experience. It’s not about excitement, but about lying back and appreciating. Appreciating the beauty of the nature, versatility and taking it easy, and believe me once you adjust with the pressure on your ear drums, you start enjoying it.
After the 30-45 minutes dive I don’t think there was actually anything left which I wanted to do and trust me when I say there was nothing else, I meant it. Yes it had been great if we could have a reservation in walking with the lions, but guess on this trip to Mauritius this was all in store for us; which I tell you was more than I had hoped for.
The last day of our trip was a Sunday and Sunday is a holiday in Mauritius; not figuratively but literally. All the markets were closed, most of the restaurants, tourist attractions, streets were almost empty and so were the rest of the places. It was actually nice and little strange to know, that people take off on Sunday at a tourist hub to have time for themselves.
The three days I spent there were mesmerizing and I loved every second of life there. Not because I was on a ‘supposed’ vacation, but I saw a certain calmness in people’s life. They seemed happy in doing whatever they were doing. I met people who gave up their lives to do what they wanted to, to follow their passion, not joining the mad race of unhappy and discontented people. I don’t know if they regretted their decision of abandoning their old life for this new one. If they thought the trade which they made, the transition they went through made their life miserable or that they were happy in the old way of living. Yes they will miss out on certain things in life, they might regret the decision later, but it will be theirs to regret and they seemed well prepared to face it, but they were happy with what they have and what they left behind.
Mauritius is not just about beautiful beaches, and vacation, it is about people like Sam, Lee, the Villa owner, the Swedish couple [who moved here leaving behind the hectic life]. People who made a choice, choice of following their dreams.