Working in the travel industry, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to travel abroad, all expenses paid, for eight glorious days in a five star resort in Mauritius.
The build up to the trip was literally exhausting; preparing myself for my first overseas encounter, and also being a nervous flyer.
The countdown began, passport applications were sent through, and my empty bags were lying in mid view of the dining room, waiting to be packed. The week arrived! I received my foreign exchange, and put my “out of office” on my email.
My colleague and I left our little home town on the early flight to the international airport. Eventually, we were on our luxury plane to our exotic resort across the sea. The 5 hour flight was nothing less than delightful! The plane was empty, so we cold basically move into any space on the aircraft, and enjoy the view and attention from the hostesses.
Finally landing at our destination, we had a renewed sense of energy. Going through customs was a little out of our comfort zone. With the raging scare of Ebola on the rise, each passenger was screened through a double questionnaire process as well as being eyed out like chickens in a coupe by the heavily armed security walking around the waiting area. No one dared sneeze or cough!
Through the check point to the bus pick up. The procedure is surprisingly quick, the driver was waiting for us, loaded up our baggage, and we commenced on our two hour journey – to paradise.
By the way, there are no rules to driving in Mauritius. The roads are the size of pathways, and everyone just overtakes each other in a friendly manner. There are mostly vespers and taxis on the roads, not many motors cars at all, and of course, a traffic circle every 100 meters. Somehow, with all the chaos in the road, there is no road rage. An incredible culture.
We arrived! I felt like I was in a glossy brochure describing a paradise island. Absolutely surreal! The hotel staff were friendly and treated us like royalty from the minute we stepped off the bus. Cocktails in hand, we set off to sign for our rooms, which were private villas on the island.
Each day spent in paradise was blissful – from the buffet breakfast, I literally walked down two stairs, onto the sun lounger beside the pool, overlooking the white sands and palm trees of the Mauritian beach. Soaking up the sun with a cocktail always at hand, the feeling was totally unreal.
Of course, being a mother of two extremely energetic children, I almost felt a little out of my crazy zone. I’m not used to relaxing and doing absolutely nothing. With no shortage of fine food, fruits and tropical drinks, I was slowly wishing for each day to never end.
The night life at our hotel was incredible. Partaking in the dancing with the island girls, shaking their hips to the beat of the drums, their faces lit up with passion for their lives. The contagious energy of the people in Mauritius is so humbling.
When visiting the town, you are struck with a sense of realism. You are greeted by the poor, poverty stricken streets, with everyone bartering their goods in the market at the lowest prices, just to make their wages for the day. The stench in the market streets turns your stomach. However, there is a smile on every Mauritian face! You almost felt you were entering a time capsule, climbing into the taxi going back to the hotel. It is almost like being in two completely different places.
On our second last day, I experienced what life would be like as a celebrity. We headed off early in the morning, onto the largest catamaran boat I have ever encountered. Laying on the front of the boat, the Mauritian dancers swaying to the music on deck, as we sailed three hours to the entertainment island. With an amazing diving experience along the way, we got to experience to crystal clear warm waters of the ocean much talked about.
The island was nothing short of spectacular! The desirable celebrity men, boasting muscular tanned bodies and speedos………and some great water sports, which was most fun. It was the experience of a lifetime. When we finally set sail back to the hotel, at the end of the day, the boat was draped with very tired adventurers, looking forward to getting back to the villa for a relaxing evening.
When the morning came to go home, I had time to reflect upon this incredible journey that I had such a privilege of experiencing. I would go back in a heartbeat, maybe take my family with next time! I strongly suggest, exploring something different, and all elements. Taking in the good and the poor areas, and appreciating different cultures, that add a certain substance to your life.
This trip certainly did that for me.
by Jo-Anne Preston
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