Oh, you lived in a resort country!
That was the typical misunderstanding I kept hearing when I said I lived in Mauritania since 2018, as many people thought it was MAURItius, a country also known as “rainbow country” for its diversity.
And after years of this MAURI*** dichotomy in mind, I finally visited Mauritius, which was truly amazing. “God created Mauritius first, and then created heaven in imitation of Mauritius” as Mark Twain, author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, put it, Mauritius is full of charm. It was not only nice resort, but it also lived with diversity which I believe is a key to the better world to embrace the difference (without that, we might keep having wars and conflicts).
In this post, I would like to share some of the tastes of Mauritius through online info and what I experienced (not available online and several highlight collage photos!), hoping this can contribute to promoting Mauritius and diversity.
First of all, why promoting diversity?
Simply put, through diversity, you experience new world, and learn and grow.
Then Why Mauritius?
Compared to other diverse place such as New York (where I lived more than 5 years), Mauritius is not well known, reached by many people, and I believe it has a lot to learn from, so decided to absorb and share about relatively hidden melting pot.
To me, the visit to Mauritius was totally by chance.
- Before my child turns 2 (after which we have to pay more for flight), we decided to take a last (almost) free trip. We first picked Madagascar, which was cancelled due to a lack of domestic flight. I looked for another option to take advantage of this opportunity.
- Among others, Mauritius caught my attention not because it’s a resort place, but it was so diverse country in people, culture and food.
- Then I thought it would be interesting to visit Mauritius, to finally get to compare with Mauritania
- It was also a destiny. 5 days before our trip, I attended a national education conference in Mozambique, where I met a guest speaker from Mauritius who kindly introduced to his relative in his home country whom we met and enjoyed the time with local family (about which I share later!)
Where is Mauritius located and what makes it so diverse?
Let me share a bit of general info, history and flag (a bit of “bla bla” parts but I find it interesting).
- General info
- Mauritius is an African island nation located east side of Madagascar.
- It’s a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country with a population of around 1.3 million (descendants of Indian, Chinese, French, African, etc.)
- In Mauritius, there are 2 official languages (French and English) and home language (Creole, which is similar to French) and others.
- Due to the unique history briefly mentioned below), they preserve their cultural heritage and celebrating differences. The country’s commitment to “unity in diversity” has contributed to its image as a “rainbow country”.
- Mauritius is an African island nation located east side of Madagascar.
- History (Source from Air Mauritius, I’ve never seen airline explaining the history !)
- Awareness of Arab, Swahili and Malay sailors (10C)
- Arrival of Portuguese without settling (17C)
- Dutch colony (17C)
- French colony (18C)
- British colony (19C)
- Abolishment of slaves (19C)
- Arrival of Indian to replace ex-slave workforce such as sugarcane (19C)
- Independence (20C)
- Development and became one of the few high-income countries in Africa (21C)
- National Flag (source)
- Red represents the struggle for freedom and independence.
- Blue represents Indian Ocean , in which Mauritius is situated.
- Yellow represents the light of freedom shining over the island.
- Green represents the agriculture of Mauritius and its colour throughout the 12 months of the year.
So many African flag use 3 colors (red, yellow and green) including 🇸🇳🇬🇭 🇲🇷 🇧🇫 🇲🇱 🇪🇹 🇨🇲 (check here if you are interested Red, Yellow, Green Flag +30 Countries). That’s also why I find the blue addition quite interesting and unique (by that, at least I know the big difference between Mauritania and Mauritius!)
↓ Country flag of Mauritania (many people misunderstood it as Mauritius, although Mauritania has a lot of interesting characteristics though
By now, I hope you had a bit of general taste of why and what about Mauritius.
Let me now switch to how we experienced their diversity despite a short stay of 1 week. We were 3 of us (myself, my wife and my almost 2-year-old daughter), and used a rental car from the beginning till the end of journey (used this rental car company and highly satisfied).
Let’s take a look at photo collages by diverse category (food, nature, beach, animal, cultural diversity, some break)
<Food (eating and cooking)>
- Creole (cooking class): As I’m trying to introduce international cuisine in the near future, I tend to take a cooking class wherever I go, and this time was no exception. The chef was in this field for many decades and gave me a private class to cook some Creole dishes (influenced by many cultures), she gave me her book and let me try everything with red wine. She said that she was already too tired to continue with the cooking class and she told me that she would give me her willpower so I am more than happy to do it (whatever that means)
- Creole (Local Family Dish): I also had the opportunity to have a local Creole lunch at a Mauritian family home thanks to my new friend who I met a few days before the trip to Mozambique. he was
- Indian: By default, I love Indian food and enjoy it. Interestingly, I found Mauritian Indian food less spicy. This was later confirmed by the cooking class teacher, who said that Mauritians put much less chilli powder than the original Indian dishes. Although most are of Indian descent, the island’s atmosphere has changed.
- Chinese – I also had some Chinese dishes, which were also somehow milder than the Chinese food I’m used to. They adopted the Chinese dumpling to call it “boulette” (which means ball in French).
- Fusion: In some restaurants I visited, there was a bit of all of the above and some mix, which were quite good!
- Food tour: We joined the Local Food Tour which took us to many street foods for 3 hours (going with the baby in the stroller was not that easy, but it was fun).
- “Waterfall in the water” (nature illusion effect) was just amazing (top left photo):
- Chamarel The land of seven colors (top right photo) was somewhat unique (although Google images are more vivid than the real thing, worth a visit)
- The botanical garden had beautiful and unique plants, including the bloody tree (bottom center photo)
- The regular scenery was just beautiful, another advantage of the car rental.
- Rainbow: Because of this country’s nickname, there was a lot of back and forth between the rain and the sun, which made for many rainbows, which symbolize diversity.
This small island had access to many beautiful beaches, such as Flic-en-flac, Blue bay, Grand baie, Mont choisy, etc.
Casela Nature Park was full of attractions, including the African Safari (albeit on a smaller scale than major Safaris like Kenya’s Masai Mara), giraffe feedings, the giant tortoise, the birds, the mountain Russian, among others.
Also, when I snorkeled near Blue Bay beach, I saw and touched a sea turtle (the man on the boat said there was 20% luck to see it). I saw giant tortoises in at least 3 different places (I thought it was just the Galapagos Islands!).
My daughter, who loves the animals in the books, could see the real ones and kept calling them by her name.
Let’s take a break here (Did you know that “Break Dance” originates the dance created for the rest moments of the music?)
Since I started breakdancing over 20 years ago, wherever I go, I tend to take photos with the breakdancing movement. The movement in the top left photo is called “Tortoise” (with a giant turtle!). The one in the middle is called “Chair” (I never expected to do this on the big chair). The bottom ones show a beautiful ocean (bottom left) and an upside-down entertainment venue (bottom right).
Allow me to finish by highlighting Mauricio’s cultural diversity.
On the same day, we went to British fort (against French invasion), then headed out to China town. Then we passed a big mosque, and during the drive, we saw a beautiful Hindu temple and stopped at a Roman Catholic church with a bright red roof. There are many markets that sell spices, vegetables and fruits from many origins. We were constantly attracted by the diversity of Mauritius.
The gastronomic tour guide we joined told me something interesting about the China town. According to him, the Chinese people are in all parts of the world (which is true). Given that China in itself is big, however, Chinese people from other regions do not unite as much, but they decided to unite in Mauritius due to the great diversity consisting of Indian, European, African, Muslim, etc.
To demonstrate this spirit, the graffiti area of the Chinese neighborhood had a symbolic image of Panda that demonstrated this spirit with the following deep/fun sentence (Photo: top left)
DESTROY RACISM. BE LIKE A PANDA. I’M BLACK, WHITE AND ASIAN.
Let’s be like a panda and get rid of racism. We have a lot to learn from Mauritians living in harmony. The country embraced diversity and even made economic strides (in 2020, it became one of the few high-income countries in Africa).
The local person we met through the connection I had in Mozambique was very helpful in showing the local diversity and culture. He also gave us something we’ve been looking for ー picture books in Creole (as we’re collecting picture books in different languages to promote diversity).
Learning of this time
My visit to Mauritius became a memorable one to confirm the importance of diversity to grow, learn and make a better world by embracing the combination of nature, animals, culture, food and people.
Thank you for reading this article. Have a great learning!