Monday, September 3, 2007

One is the loneliest number: Mauritius Aug 2007

I just recently returned from a work trip (19hrs of flying) to Mauritius, and I found myself to be slightly disappointed. The first two days of my trip, I stayed in a hostel called Grand Baie hotel and it was completely dead. I only saw one other guest the whole time, who was twice my age. I also had the pleasure of finding a few tiny hairs when I pulled back my sheets. The place was cheap, and I had my own private room with bathroom and shower.

My first day in Mauritius, I took the public bus to go to the Pamplemousse Gardens. It took about an hour to get there (by car it might have been 20 minutes), but it was nice experience and cost less than a dollar. The gardens were really nice, and the temperature was great for walking. I saw some pretty lethargic tortoises and large amazonian lily pads.

The second day I booked two scuba diving excursions in Trou aux Biches. We took a small boat out on the water and dived in two different spots. The fish and coral were great, and I finally got to see some lion fish. But I couldn't believe that our dive instructor not only fed the fish, but touched and handled the fish! This is a huge no no, and in my opinion very irresponsible of that diving company. Please allow me to rant for a second... those of us who dive because we love nature and appreciate it, are not down there to see a show, we merely want to observe life as it is!

So whats the big deal about feeding a fish you ask? Here is a quote directly from the PADI Ten Ways a Diver can Protect the Underwater Environment "Avoid touching, handling, feeding or riding on aquatic life. These actions may stress the animal, interrupt feeding and mating behavior or provoke aggressive behavior in normally non aggressive species." The dive shop should know this information, since they have this exact poster on the wall in their dive shop. For your information, if anyone is going to Mauritius, and is an avid scuba diver/underwater love, the dive shop is called Atlantis and its located in Trou aux Biches...I say boycott them.

So enough about scuba ranting, and on to ranting about the local men. The majority of places I go to in the world, I do not get a second glance (or at least not one that I perceived) however there are on occasions where I feel a bit uncomfortable. This was one of them.

I can understand why I would be a target for the local men, I am a young woman traveling alone. Mauritius is a tourist destination, and I am guessing not too many women who are 25 (and look 20) would be going all that way for business by herself. So that I get; it's annoying but I understand. But what I don't get is the persistence even after I say I am married.

One night I went to an Indian restaurant called the Taj Mahal, and the waiter made some joke about he knows one way he could get to Canada. So I jokingly say "well it wont be by marrying me, since I am already married" That should have been the end of our bantering, but it wasn't. I was the only person eating in the restaurant, and for the next 45 uncomfortable minutes he kept making comments about me being his girlfriend, that I should leave my husband, and that we should have drinks that night. Oh, he also mentioned his wife and kids, but they were away that night.

It would seem that every night that I sat down for supper, I would have very dedicated waiters who hung around my table trying to talk to me, a lot. One night a waiter asked me in French with a smile " so is it Madame or Mademoiselle?" I was quite exasperated, not by him but in general, that I quickly let him know that I was married, here for work and my husband was at home. Besides the over eager waiters, I even had a police car pull up in front of me and honk! The officers got out and gave me a grin. The icing on the cake was when the manager of the hotel called me at midnight (five hours before I had to get up to catch my flight home) to ask if I wanted to have a drink.

I am not sure in the end which paranoia got the better of me; men thinking I was a single easy tourist looking for a local, or that everyone felt sorry for me because I am on vacation alone.

To be completely fair, I think the experience would have been much better if my husband was there with me. The temperature was great, the beaches and water were stunning, and the food was very Indian inspired. Then the local guys could smile at me all they want, I have my 6ft2 husband with me.

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