last day in paradise
Mauritius is a fascinating place. Successive occupation by first the Dutch, then the French, and finally the British have forged a multi-religious, multi-ethnic nation that is Africa’s most densely populated. [With twelve million people crammed into a country the size of Maryland, Rwanda – where we live – is the most densely populated nation on the African continent. At 640 inhabitants per square kilometer, Mauritius is 40% more densely populated!] Rwanda definitely feels crowded, so it was quite a trip to visit an even smaller, even more densely populated nation.
Population density is where the similarities between Rwanda and Mauritius end, however. Much like the Malagasy, who bristled when we proclaimed that “we too live in Africa!” upon arrival in Madagascar, the Mauritian people do not consider themselves to be African. This makes sense, of course. Mauritius is so far out in the Indian Ocean that we traversed two time zones after leaving the mainland before we reached the island.
Our French training came in handy…sort of. Although English and French are the country’s official languages, the average Mauritian’s grasp of either tongue is questionable, as most of the population speaks Creole. Still, the overlap with French is considerable, and when we could not make ourselves understood in English, we could usually remedy the misunderstanding by reverting to French.
After stretching our legs and seeing a bit of the island, we decided to spend the last day of our vacation maxing out on the sun & relaxation at the resort, acutely aware that the long return trip to Kigali would test our nerves and patience. We booked massages, filled up on real vanilla ice cream (which is delicious in Mauritius and non-existent in Rwanda), and took Munchkin kayaking out on the ocean.
The sun shone brightly. With the cyclone behind us, Mauritius presented itself in the best possible light – the island paradise we had envisioned when we booked our resort stay. As our last day grew to a close, we were not sure if we would ever return, but we sure were glad we had decided to come and spend a week in Mauritius.