Reflective Kanjis & Christmas Markets

December 21, 2017

East Gardens

January 12, 2018

A Swan in Mauritius

January 6, 2018

mauritius familySo this was a big kept secret – I couldn’t talk about it on this blog no matter how much I wanted to, but the cat came out of the bag on the 22nd of December and off I went on the 24th to Mauritius, only returning to Tokyo yesterday. This post will be short and sweet because I’m pretty exhausted with the jet lag, but hopefully the pictures will be able to fill in the gaps. (click the circles below the first image)

(Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone reading!)

Mauritius is a French-speaking little island in Africa, to the right of Madagascar. It’s got a pretty interesting ethnic mix – mainly a Chinese, Indian and Creole population. And of course, due to the weather and the beaches, it’s a massive tourist destination.

mauritius landscape

Beautiful views no matter where you are

mauritius airport

The Christmas spirit isn’t bound by temperature

Speaking of, I never really feel appropriate being a tourist in smaller or poorer countries. I feel like resorts and the like directed toward short-term vacationers are pretty destructive of an island’s natural beauty and create a huge divide between the rich tourists and the poorer residents of the island. Mauritius is home to people, but with a resort literally every 3-4 minutes it felt more like the island had become a bit of a playground (especially when we passed a golf course that was fenced off). I know it’s completely hypocritical to be writing this, but I feel like because we stayed at an AirBNB we avoided funding resorts and the like. In any case, I always feel somewhat uncomfortable – like my presence in itself is offensive?

But that’s an entirely different can of beans – let’s talk about Mauritius.

mauritius forest

Stretch of trees filled with item-stealing baboons (I didn’t take a picture of them for obvious reasons)

What an incredibly scorching, unique and gorgeous little island. (I also have to give Mauritius thanks for giving me a proper noticeable tan for maybe the second time in my life.) We stayed in a house in the South-West, just below Tamarin and, of course, right next to the ocean. It doesn’t really need to be said but with every day being sweltering hot and all of the beaches we visited being stunning, I had the most amazing winter break. I appreciate it even more now that I’m back in Tokyo and it’s ridiculously cold. Like, constantly being able to see your breath in front of you levels of cold. Going from 30 degree heat to give or take 3 degrees is difficult.

Mauritius was also stunning in that I was finally not eating Japanese things, my own weird Japanese-western creations. Having masala dosas, pineapple juice, breadfruit curries, hummus (which I missed intensely), pickled artichokes, dragonfruits… so much food that either 1) I didn’t know I was missing or 2) tried for the first time and savoured, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to recreate it in Japan.

mauritius beach

Stunning even with storm clouds approaching

Also, gravy – I so wished that I could bring some back with me, as gravy (let alone vegan gravy) is definitely not a thing here. The shops in Mauritius actually have a pretty good selection of foods available, including Nando’s sauces (there seems to be one random Nando’s on the island, for whatever reason) and tons of vegan and gluten-free stuff. And dark chocolate that doesn’t have milk in it, as it should be (I’m looking at you, Japan).

I give Japan a lot of damage for having pork, chicken and meat in everything available (I’m still very mad that I can’t even make soups, as all the stock cubes have some form of animal in them), but now that I’m back in Japan I decided to take a fresh perspective when it came to my grocery shopping, picking up anything that looked interesting and hoping it wouldn’t have animal products in it. Of course, 90% of what I picked up did, but I’m excited to cook with the 10% that didn’t (mostly sauces). Having a change in environment and food definitely did me good and inspired me, and the only thing I picked up that had any dairy in was the new orange flavoured kit kats (which are delicious, and now that I’ve tried them there’s no need to buy any more…)

Not much else to say about Mauritius – I’ve got 3 more weeks of this semester left, and then I’m off travelling! Now that I’ve had a taste of a holiday I’m ready for the big two months coming.

mauritius elsa

It rained almost every day – still hot