We made it to Mauritius! (Old news for those who read my most recent post, “Making a Move”). June 5 will forever remain the anniversary of the day we landed in Mauritius. We’ve been here almost two weeks now and every day we have had work to do and errands to run for the new house. Except for Sundays when businesses close early and work is suspended. Yesterday (a Sunday) was spent relaxing at the beach in Trou Aux Biches, a region in the north of the island.
We took the (relatively new) highway between the mountains through the center of the island. Le Pouce (The Thumb), Montagne Longue (Long Mountain), Pieter Both—the names of the mountains are as captivating as the peaks themselves. Pieter Both, named after the first Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, has a head-shaped rock resting precariously at the summit of the mountain, and it does indeed resemble some stately governor presiding over his dominion. Coming down off the plateau, the vast Indian Ocean spread before us like a blanket, we pass acres of sugar cane punctuated by the occasional new housing project and La Croisette, the great mall of the north. The mall, a modern monstrosity, seems incongruous with the fields of cane, the wide-open sky, the sea only miles away, and the simple, salt-of-the-earth island lifestyle that one might imagine. But, then again, a declining sugar industry and mounting national debt have forced the Mauritian government to seek diversification, the malls springing up on old sugar cane fields are simply one manifestation of this.
I don’t mind the malls so much. The familiarity of the products and brands make me feel strangely at home (and by “at home” I mean back in the Bay Area, California). Such is the march of globalization, that even on this small island nation in the heart of the Indian Ocean one can find freeze-dried organic fuji apples produced in Tiburon, California. I passed a M.A.C cosmetics store at Bagatelle mall last week and I simply had to share it on Instagram—”Stanford Mall (in Palo Alto) doesn’t even have a M.A.C store!”. That also says a lot about the power of branding. I had underestimated the extent to which Mauritius has “developed” and integrated into the world market. In the months and weeks leading up to the move, I would often ask Oli “do you think they have xyz in Mauritius?” or “do you think they sell xyz in Mauritius?”, as if I were moving to some remote and impoverished island at the ends of the earth. “I’m sure they do”, Oli would reply. But, just in case, I packed my marble cake stand, my glass storage canisters, and our baby carriers, among other things. Just in case.
As it turns out you can purchase most, if not all, of these very same things in Mauritius. I know this now because we have spent the past two weeks (since the day we arrived) shopping for items for the new house. Most of our shopping thus far has been for finishings—bathroom tiles, sinks, cabinets, light fixtures, wall paint etc—but I’ve also been making note of furniture and decor that I like in local catalogues and in shops we’ve visited. There is still quite a bit of work to do on the house before we can start furnishing it. Plumbing needs to be installed and electrical work completed, the bathrooms need to be tiled and the paint needs to go up. We’ve met with our contractor several times as well as the electrician and the carpenter (who is building custom closets, shelving units, kitchen cabinets, and several pieces of furniture for us). We hope to have everything completed by the end of August so that we can furnish the house in September and move in in October, in time to host my parents who will be visiting from New Zealand. In the meantime, we are living downstairs with my in-laws (affectionately known as Mémé and Papi, i.e. grandma and grandpa) and Oli’s youngest brother. The house, as it is, is spacious enough for all of us, and it has been nice having Mémé and Papi doting on us and also helping out with childcare while we run errands for the new house. On that note, I’d like to write a separate post focused on design features of the new build (with pics!) so stay tuned!