On to the day 1 of our Mauritius trip.
We started the day with a breakfast of toast, fruit, porridge, milk, orange juice, coffee and more fruit. The travel agency bus arrived at 8:30 am and off we went. There were a bunch of honeymooning Indian couples in the bus and we were glad for the company. We were also glad and a bit surprised to spot a much older Indian couple with us. They were in their sixties and it was real pleasure to see them. It is not very common for older Indian couples to visit places like Mauritius and we were pleasantly surprised to see them.
The plan for the day was:
- Visit to the Ille Aux Surfs island which has some great beaches and a small waterfall inland.
- WATER SPORTS!!!!
- Lots of swimming.
Our driver (another Mauritian of Indian descent called Manish) took us to an agency which conducts watersports and we bought tickets for the following activities:
- Tube Riding
- Para Sailing
- Undersea Walk and
- A boat trip to the waterfall
Lunch was part of the package. This whole package came to 6500 Mauritian Rupees(INR 12000 approx) per couple.
So anyways, off we went to the beach for the first activity of the day:
Let me describe Tube Riding in my eloquent, moving and articulate writing style.
You sit on rubber boat. Rubber boat tied to speed boat with rope. Speed boat move at high speed. Rubber boat dragged behind. Bumpety-bumpety-bump-bump! Since you idiot enough to sit in said rubber boat, hold on for dear life. Screaming mandatory. Curse and swear to taste.
After this was over we headed out for our next activity:
This was one activity that Pallavi and I were really, really looking forward to. We had heard a lot of great things about this and were really excited about it. In undersea walk, the operators take you to a shallow(3-4 m depth) stretch of the ocean. You put on a clear plastic helmet through which fresh air is pumped in through a pipe for you to breathe. They also attach a couple of weights to your waist. Then you descend underwater and can actually walk on the ocean bed. That’s right. You actually walk underwater!
Now that the boring technical description is over, I will actually get to describe the experience itself.
Undersea walks has got to be one of the highlights of our trip to Mauritius. I had never experienced anything like this before.(Mental Note: Learn Scuba Diving ASAP). We got to the launch point for undersea walk by boat. Launch point was a platform built in shallow waters about 2-3 km from the coast. Soon it was our time to go under. We put on the bubble shaped helmet(which I’ll be calling the Bone Dome:)), shoes and the weights and down the ladder we went.
The first thing that stuck me about the experience was the absolute silence underwater. This is something that I have experienced while swimming but it was a bit eerie when it happened during the walk. There was a serenity to the whole experience that was both enervating and unnerving at the same time. Lifting my head up, I could see the sunlight streaming down through the clear water. It was an awesome sight. Then I slowly relaxed and saw that the ocean floor was covered with broken coral pieces and some bits from an old ship wreck. White and black striped fish swam with impunity around us. Soon Pallavi joined me and we settled down to enjoy one of the most fantastic experiences of our trip. We tried touching the fish and barely managed it. Man can those fishes swim! They will be swimming along slowly, seemingly oblivious to their environment and as soon as you try to touch them.. zoom!! They swim away from you so fast. Then the operators handed us a bit of bread to feed the fish and suddenly we had the entire school of fish feeding from our hands. And it tickled like crazy :). This was an awesome experience. I will be probably boring my grand-kids with stories of how we fed fish underwater.
Here are some pics
Hmm.. Pallavi is pinching me right now..
Pallavi: Say it! Say it!
Me: Say what?
Pallavi: You know what!
Me: I am a geek. I can’t use that word!
Pallavi: Say it or I’ll poke you with my hairpin. Go on…
Me: Alright! Alright!
Me: Undersea walks. It was Magical!
Pallavi: There! See it was not all that tough, was it?
Me: Just you wait! This article is not over yet. I will have my vengeance. Muhuhahahahaha!
Pallavi: Prrrrrrrrrr! 😛
Anyways getting back to undersea walks, it was an absolutely awesome experience and one I’ll recommend to anyone visiting Mauritius. We walked around underwater, fed the fish, had our pictures taken underwater and just chilled out and enjoyed the calming, soothing experience. Pretty soon the operators were asking us to come out and we were (very reluctantly) climbing the ladder to the surface again.
Then it was on to the next activity of the day…
We were trying out this activity for the first time and the experience was really great. The view from the top was amazing and the wind gusting all over us has to be experienced to be believed. Now I can’t wait to learn Skydiving and Hang-gliding! My only beef with parasailing was the fact that it got over way too soon. We had barely settled down and were beginning to enjoy the view when the whole thing ended. It lasted for around 5-6 minutes which in my not so humble opinion is a big letdown. Be good if it lasts for something like 10 minutes.
Now it was time for lunch and a boatride to Ille Aux Cerfs island.
We came back to the start off point of the water sports activities for lunch. We were running a bit behind schedule so we all decided to have our lunch packed and eat at the Ille Aux Cerfs island. We collected the lunch packets and boarded the boat to Ille Aux Cerfs island.
Ille Aux Cerfs island is a beautiful island with some very pretty beaches. It also has a small waterfall inland and an Indian restaurant called Masala which we had heard a lot about.
Our ferry boat first took us to the waterfall which was just about okay. It was not a very big waterfall but the way the locals had hyped it up made you think of it as Niagara’s long lost twin sister or something.When we reached the waterfall, Pallavi’s first words were: “So where is this great big waterfall?”
Ferryman: Right in front of you madam.
Pallavi: What?? That thing over there is no waterfall!!
Me: Yeah Dude!! The diving board at my local swimming pool is higher than that!
Oh well… at this time I was reminded of a quote by Mark Twain:
“The Gentle Reader will never, never know what a complete ass he can become, until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the Gentle Reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a complete ass“.
After visiting the “I-will-be-a-waterfall-when-i-grow-up”, we came back to the beach. It was time for lunch.
And this is when we almost ate fish!
As I mentioned before, we had taken two lunch packets before leaving for the island. Pallavi and I are vegetarians so we had asked for and received vegetarian lunch packets. And this is where I goofed up. I took the sealed lunch packets from the organizers. Asked them if they were veg and once they confirmed it, I took their word for it and didn’t open them and check.
On the Ille Aux Cerfs island, we found that one of the packets had vegetarian lunch in it, the other one had minced fish in it. That spoiled the mood a bit for Pallavi and me. Thankfully we went to the restaurant Masala on the island which had a some good reviews and had a proper lunch.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls
Do As I Say, and Don’t Do As I Do
- Just because you are on vacation, do not switch off your common sense. Travelling, at the end of the day, involves dealing with lots of people. And people make mistakes. You do not have to make things worse by adding your own set of goof ups into the mix. Ask questions. Check things. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open. That does not mean that you should not be having fun. Have fun. Have loads of fun but do not leave your brains at home. 🙂
- Listen to your partner. This is a big one. When I was collecting the lunch packets, Pallavi asked me to check if they were vegetarian. I should have listened to her and actually “checked”. Instead, I contented myself with taking someone’s word for it. Not a good idea. When you have a partner with you whose common sense is working as opposed to yours which has gone to sleep, it is a really good idea to just listen to them. Will save everyone a lot of aggravation.
On the plus side though, the lunch at Masala restaurant was awesome. We were really hungry and in addition to the single packed vegetarian lunch, we wolfed down two vegetarian thalis and a side order of samosas. We really felt great after that awesome lunch.
After lunch it was time for a long leisurely swim.
We spent the next one hour lazing around the beach, swimming, splashing water on each other and swimming some more. It was a beautiful beach and we had a great time.
After that we took the boat to return from the island and took the bus back to our hotel. We had loads of fun on the first day and came back to the hotel tired but happy.
Next Post: PolymathGeek Goes To Mauritius: Part 2: In Which We Buy The Ship HMS Bounty