Mauritius: Our first impressions
If you follow me on social media you will know that Franglaise Family has now moved on from London….to Mauritius! It’s a move that was in the pipeline for most of last year and kept me very busy, which explains why this blog has been so quiet for such a long time – sorry! I hope to rectify that very soon 🙂
Many reasons brought us here and it’s hard to believe that we’ve been living on this paradise island for nearly 3 months now.
I’m going to talk about our first impressions of Mauritius, but I’ll scatter the post with photos here to give you an idea of this wonderful island.
In answer to a question that we’re often asked – no, neither of us had ever been here before. I know this shocks lots of people, but Hubs and I have lived all over (US – him, Spain – me, France – both of us in various towns, cities and villages, UK – north and south, London and “Not London”) and find that we’re happy wherever we are so we were not worried about whether we’d like it here. Also we know that if we don’t like it we can go somewhere else. It’s not a life sentence!
We also decided we wanted to experience it fully when we arrived here, and not through “already-seen-that” tourist eyes. And we have absolutely no regrets!
Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realise this isn’t a dream, as this beautiful country feels a bit like it was created for me and what I want. Ever since I moved to France I’ve been craving a place that’s French and English to satisfy these two sides of me. Mauritius is just that place.
I recognise so much of France / the French and UK / the Brits here that I felt totally at home from the get-go:
- The official language is English but everybody speaks French or Mauritian Creole (I can understand some if spoken slowly as it’s very similar to French). I love this mix of the languages – for example you’ll go into the bank and chat to the teller in French, then fill out your forms in English. Or on the radio they’ll be talking in French, interview a member of the public in Creole and then throw in random words of English that don’t translate well in French.
Our inventory when we moved into our house was this massive mix of Franglais, for example “12 assiettes blanches and 12 wine glasses”. One of our reasons for coming here was so that our girls could be raised in a bilingual environment, and most people speak English and French to a fluent level, often with Creole too, both the expats and the locals. So it’s just perfect for us 🙂
- The plug sockets in our house are like English ones but half the devices are on French plugs. Whilst this is a pain, it’s a situation I’ve been living with for years – English devices with adaptors going into French sockets, then French devices with adaptors going into English sockets. So I can understand it driving people mad but it’s the norm for me.
- The cars are right hand drive and they drive on the left (like in the UK). However the speed limit is in kilometres / hour and the driving is far more French than English. I know English expats here who say the driving is crazy – stopping out of the blue to talk to someone, dangerous overtaking and such – but this is far better driving than we experienced in Nice, as people are certainly far more courteous when they drive here.
- Quite a lot of anglo-saxon expats complain that customer service is not great, for example moody cashiers in supermarkets. But I haven’t really noticed this – seeing as customer service doesn’t really exist in Nice and as I spent 12 years being driven crazy by this. Also I’ve found that if you smile at the cashier she will smile back 😉 One thing to bear in mind though is that they are being paid next to nothing so possibly don’t have much to smile about 🙁
- Bureaucracy is another thing that a lot of people complain about – again we’ve found it to be better than France so far. The people we’re dealing with are so friendly each time and the papers they’re asking for are not too outlandish, and we’ve not had to go back millions of times for the same thing (unlike in France).
I’ve written before about my love of France and about my dislike of France and why I can’t see myself living there again for the foreseeable future. However I do love France (in particular the south) and the French language, and I really missed both whilst in the UK. So I’m delighted to find that a lot of Mauritius reminds me of France and French culture and I’m also back in a French (and English) speaking environment 🙂
For example on a daily basis we speak about 50/50 English / French here. We either flip between languages with our bilingual friends, or we speak French with our French-speaking friends and so on. The girls’ activities are in one or the other or both languages simultaneously, at home we speak a mix of French and English with no hard and fast rules these days, kids’ films at the cinema are in French only (whilst we watch our films in English with French subtitles at the cinema), out and about we speak mostly French, but the girls are both at English-speaking schools (based on the UK National Curriculum) so it all evens out I find.
I love the more relaxed approach to parenting here, which I remember from France – where kids are welcome in most places. We have taken L (age 9) to a local bar several times in the evening, where there has been live music, she goes off and plays table football, air hockey etc with a couple of other kids there (and sings karaoke!) while Hubs and I chat to other people there and enjoy the live music. L absolutely loves this, as do we, but I could never imagine doing that in the UK. We don’t take C to this (age 3) but that’s more to do with her personality than her age – she likes to sleep whereas L is a party animal and night owl!
Shortly before we left the UK I did have a bit of a panic – what were we doing? We were moving to AFRICA!! What if it was dangerous? What if there were loads of bugs? What if it was totally backwards?
But we’ve been delighted to find that yes it is Africa, although it also feels quite Indian and Chinese too due to the mix that makes up the Mauritian population, but it is far from the third world here.
We have fibre optic internet, which means that we are able to stream TV from the internet. We have good mobile phone coverage (calls and data) pretty much everywhere we go. It is very clean here with not much litter. There are bugs and other such wildlife – geckos, lizards, HUGE flying cockroaches, HUGE wasps, frogs, mosquitoes… but we have poison in place which means we’re not bothered by much of it. Although the mosquitoes do drive me mad (as they did in France, although it’s day and night here) and finding a frog in the shower (twice) was a bit of a shocker, especially as it was mid-shower!!
I can find most of my same toiletries from the UK here, we have no problems finding the food we want to eat – there’s a mix of what we ate in the UK and what we ate in France, although you pay more for these as they are imported, but we’re used to that. We’re also loving trying out the local cuisine and I’ve become a bit addicted to the local Mine Frite dish!
On the whole Mauritius is pretty modern – the main roads are good (with tarmac) although there are quite a few pot-holes and the minor roads can be in a bad state, but I’ve seen that in both France and the UK too. We can find the latest electrical gadgets here – new Apple products just a month or so behind the UK, TVs with the latest technology etc.
Before we came to Mauritius we swotted up with guide books, talked to (online) friends who were already here, followed websites and blogs about Mauritius and watched documentaries about the island so we had a good idea what to expect. But it’s all so much better when you actually get here! There is so much to do, and so much variety.
This blog post is really just scratching the surface but if I don’t stop here it’ll be book-length and will never get finished!
I just want to end by saying that I LOVE this island more than I have ever loved anywhere I’ve lived, and I feel truly blessed to be able to live the life I do here with such wonderful new friends (and my FAB Hubs and girls too of course!). HAPPY does not cover it.
P.S. Sorry if the social media updates are driving you crazy – feel free to unfollow, unfriend etc as I can’t stop sharing in the same way you can’t stop grinning when you’re really happy 🙂