Discovering Mauritius

**I know that these posts are behind…but let’s pretend like I posted them the day after they happened. umkay? **

Today, I rolled over in bed at 7:00 AM wondering why in the hell would I book an 8:00 tour when I am supposed to be on vacation. I was still tired from the night before, a late night drinking and talking to the band. I was sitting at the bar, talking to Damish when I noticed all of them staring at me. They were all brown-skinned, what I would consider visibly black with obvious African ancestry. Different than most Mauritians I had seen – most of them looked like East Indians. I walked over to them and said, “Well, since everyone is looking at me, I might as well introduce myself.” I asked about where they were from, telling them that I hadn’t seen many people that were dark-skinned. They were incredulous, saying there were a lot of them around and I must not have been many places on the island.

Its interesting how I felt a need to categorize them, I wanted to know, were they Black, like me. They obviously identified with me a little because they noticed me versus all the other patrons. I also wondered if, like other places in the world, they were marginalized because of their dark skin. Destined to be on the bottom of the hierarchy and live in the invisible places of Mauritius. However, they considered themselves Mauritians and offered no extra explanations. The piano player did tell me that his ancestors were from Zambia. We exchanged email addresses and promised to correspond, although truthfully, I lost the paper. I hope they email me…

The tour guide, Thierry, was a slight-framed guy of Indian descent with light brown eyes, incredible eyelashes and a quiet demeanor. I was a little fascinated by him and how before answering a question he would look down, his long eyelashes on his cheek, considering what he would say before speaking.

There was only one family on the tour with me, a couple from Romania but living in London. He was a huge burly guy that looked like he could have been a bouncer or an extra in a Russian mob movie. He was accompanied by his small wife decked out in a designer outfit and heels, completely inappropriate for roaming through South Mauritius and two little blond girls. When they found out I was American, they tried to engage me in conspiracy theories about 9-11 and how they were sure that people knew it was going to happen. The husband told me that I should watch the movie Zeitgeist and I would know the truth. I will definitely put that on my Netflicks list. They talked about money a lot…too much actually. How much he made in construction, how much their vacation cost, the price of fuel, blah, blah, blah.

They day was pretty uneventful. We went to Casela, a kind of garden and zoo. The birds were in cages and you couldn’t really look at them closely. There was mud everywhere and it was hot and sticky. I realized at that moment, that while exploring nature is cool in theory, I’m not really cut out for it in reality. I wanted to sit down somewhere with a cool drink. When we went to the view the waterfalls, I gave them a cursory glance since they definitely didn’t compare to Victoria Falls and walked back down the pathway to the car. At Charamel, the Seven Colored Earth, I took a couple of pictures and sat down to smoke a cigarette. Air-conditioning please. At the end of the day, we dropped the Romanian family at their hotel. I had come to enjoy watching the little girls flit around the parks with so much excitement.

Thierry had been great with the girls, patient but firm, like maybe he had children of his own. I asked if he was married. He answered that he used to be. He continued that his marriage and divorce was a love story until it wasn’t. I was curious, but felt that if he had wanted to expound he would have done so without my prodding. We rode the rest of the way to my hotel without speaking. When we reached my stop, Thierry asked me if I would like to meet him and his friends for drinks. Really? Wow. I had no idea this man was even thinking about me, even though I had been sneaking peeks at him the entire day. He gave me his number and told me to call.

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