Mauritius between two lockdowns from an expat perspective

Expat interviews
  • Nicola, an expat in Mauritius
Published on 2021-05-17 at 12:00 by Anne-Lise Mty
Nicola is a British expat who relocated to Mauritius to reunite with her Mauritian fiance last October when the borders had reopened. She talks to us about living on the island amid the pandemic, between two lockdowns.

How long have you been in Mauritius?

I came to Mauritius as soon as the borders reopened in October 2020, so 7 months now!

What brought you to Mauritius?

My fiancé is Mauritian- a great reason! Normally we work on luxury cruise ships, although we both had to return to our home countries when the pandemic hit. So as soon as I could and restrictions allowed, I jumped on the first plane from London to Mauritius to see him after 10 long months apart. And of course, after the two-week mandatory quarantine, we were finally reunited!

How have you enjoyed Mauritius during this pandemic?

I've been loving it! This is my first time in Mauritius, so I was so excited to explore this wonderful island. As soon as I finished quarantine, we lived in Flic en Flac for 2 months, so from there, we went EVERYWHERE! I'd read a lot about Mauritius before coming here, so I had a few ideas of where to go, but being that my fiancé is Mauritian, I've loved being shown around by a local. We explored a lot of the island by bus as it's such a great way to actually take in the beautiful landscape and cheaper than renting a car. When I left the UK, we were still in various lockdowns, and most things were closed, so to come to Mauritius, where everything was open, was such a joy. We completely took advantage of exploring the island when it's been so quiet, from sunrises in Grand Baie to swimming in the turquoise waters in Mont Choisy to sunset BBQ's in Le Morne. It's been such a dream.

What activities have you been able to enjoy prior to this lockdown?

Both my fiancé and I are very outdoorsy people, so we love to find new and fabulous places to walk and run. We've enjoyed discovering lovely parks – such as Balfour Garden in Rose Hill and running at Trou aux Cerfs crater point in Curepipe. Also, the beaches, living in Flic en Flac, I loved being just across the street from such a paradisiacal beach where you can walk/ run and jump in the sea. One of the many things I love about Mauritius is the picnics at the beach. I've so enjoyed doing this ‘Mauritian style' bringing the whole family, picnic tables and chairs, lots of delicious Mauritian food, rum (of course!) and lots of Sega music and dancing- a perfect Sunday! I've had so many wonderful experiences in Mauritius, but I've particularly enjoyed the religious celebrations. I joined my fiancés family for the Tamil festival of Thaipoosam Cavadee, where devotees make the pilgrimage to the temple to make offerings and purify themselves. It's such a beautiful and moving experience which I'll never forget. 

How was the lockdown for you?

It was a good break! I think that sometimes we get so busy in our day to day lives that it's not often we just stop to rest and reflect. The lockdown was a little different to what I had experienced in the UK, in that there I could go running daily outside, and there was no alphabet system. But I really embraced finding new and exciting ways to exercise at home with online classes and aerobics on our terrace! I think it's a great time to get creative and think of new ways of doing things and adapt and adjust your routine. I think it's so important for your mental health to stay active, especially in these times. Just 30 minutes a day makes a huge difference to the way you feel and sets you up for a more positive and productive day. I also started baking again, and my fiancé taught me some Mauritian cuisine cooking which was fun. He's still the better chef! I must say I did find it very exciting when it was my shopping day. I would mask up and walk the 10,000 steps to my local supermarket and really enjoy the fresh air and getting those all-important Mauritian cooking essentials! I've been starting to learn Creole too, just starting with day to day phrases, and I try to use them at the supermarket- so that's fun.

How are you enjoying this easing of lockdown rules? What are you up to?

It's been lovely to go gallivanting again. I've been finding new places to go and adventure as the beaches and parks are still closed. It's been fun to discover some corners of Mauritius I hadn't been to, including La Nicoliere Reservoir, which is just beautiful and a great place to get some much needed fresh air and a good walk after lockdown. Also, the Botanical Gardens in Pamplemousse is such a stunning place to explore and enjoy the tropical surroundings, complete with its gorgeous flowers. It's also been fabulous to visit with some friends in the North. It's always lovely to reconnect and be around people again!

You are in Mauritius on a tourist visa right now, but are you looking to change this?

Yes! I'm in the middle of applying for the year premium visa. During a global pandemic where things are constantly changing, I think it's the best option for me, and it means staying on this stunning island longer. YAY! There's always more to discover, explore and experience.

What is your favourite thing about Mauritius?

The people- hands down. I love the fact Mauritius is so diverse and multicultural; everyone is so open and friendly, and I always feel at home here. With so many different religions and cultures all living harmoniously together, each sharing and celebrating each other's various festivals and traditions, it's such a fun and educational place to be. Oh, and of course the Sega music. I just need my traditional Sega dress, and I'm ready to dance the night away!

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