Lessons from our 360 km bike ride around Delicious Mauritius

Joseph and I took a detour from the coastal road on the beach to avoid riding up a mega hill.

During the five months I was in my home island-country of Mauritius in Africa, I was incredibly lucky to find out that my cousin Joseph likes adventurous activities. Out of the 300+ members in our family, he is the only one who likes to ride bicycles and do long hikes. When I say ride bicycles, I don’t just mean leisurely rides through open farms and fields. I mean riding on the roads, through the forest and new routes he’s never been on before.

Since I found out he liked biking, we have been going on bike rides almost every week. He bikes every day to work and back a huge hill that takes 10 minutes to go up, so his stamina is incredible and a hell of a lot better than mine!

The beautiful waters in northern Mauritius.

During our first ride together, we did 70 km ride and a huge climb on a big hill. Two weeks later, while we were doing a leisurely ride on the south coast and while we were starting to pack our bikes, Joseph said, “I’ve always wanted to do the tour of Mauritius.” I excitedly replied and said, “If I had known you earlier, I was looking for someone or a group of people to do the tour of Mauritius for my birth as a fundraiser bike ride! If you have time next week, let’s do it before I leave the country.” He immediately said yes and believed we could do it in two days. We decided to do the ride just five days before we actually began.

Joseph prepped our 5:30 a.m. breakfast ingredients so we would be well fueled on day one of two of our 360 km bike ride.

Our goal

Our goal was to cycle 360 km along the coastal roads of Mauritius in two days. Joseph was awesome and planned all of our break stops to make sure we were on track and where we should be every hour.

I loved the look on people’s faces whenever we told them we were cycling around the whole island. I never get tired of it. When they asked why we were doing it he said in French, “Because we’re crazy.”

The kindness of Mauritians

The man on the right was nice enough to stop, lend us a screwdriver to change a flat tire and wait patiently until we were done before he continued on his way.

Unfortunately crime has gone up the past decade in Mauritius and many people I know on the island are fearful at times to the point where they don’t really trust many people. Their fear infected me for the first two weeks to the point where I was suspicious of people’s genuinely kind gestures like when I was lost sometimes and they walked with me to show me where I needed to go.

But over the five months I was in Mauritius, the people I didn’t know kept being kind to me the way other local people were in every country I’ve been in. I know there are a lot of people in Mauritius you can’t trust and people get screwed over a lot by their own friends. But I seem to attract positive people so instead of just looking at the negative sides, I didn’t let excessive fears shield me from experiencing the kindness of helpful Mauritians.

Many of my relatives were worried about us riding around the island but Joseph and I both know there are kind people along the way and weren’t worried about being attacked in any way. On the contrary, the people in the smaller villages we rode through are very kind, honest and it felt much safer than being in the cities.

We road along the windy south part of the island that slowed our pace, but we kept pushing on.

Joseph’s friend joined us for the first few hours of our ride and had to go back to his home for a meeting. He unfortunately had a flat tire in the first two hours we were riding and Joseph had most of the tools except for a screwdriver. So Joseph stopped a motorcycle that was passing by and the driver was so nice to stop, lend us the tool we needed and waited patiently.

Whenever we’ve cycled in the past, I feel a warmness among people in the villages. When we stopped at a woman’s restaurant, people brought our food with smiles and kindly set up the tables for us.

The most important tool is positive energy

These are the tallest coconut trees I saw during our ride.

I know this sounds really cheesy but it’s true. We could have the best bikes, all the food we need and all the tools. But all of that wouldn’t have mattered if we didn’t have the strong belief that we could meet our goal throughout our trip, even when we had delays or when I was extremely exhausted.

I’m not nearly as fit as Joseph and we took so many breaks because I had to stop a lot, especially after some longer hills. But Joseph’s constant positive energy throughout our whole trip played a huge factor in us being able to meet our goal. He never once complained anytime we had a flat tire, took the wrong route or bad weather conditions.

As we stopped at Le Morne mountain where we saw a group of kids learning about the runaway slaves who used the mountain as a shelter through the 18th and early years of the 19th centuries. They formed settlements in the cave.

On the second day, we started riding when my body felt like it was at 60% energy than normal after riding for 11 hours of riding the day before. But after awhile, my body just kept going on for some time and it’s fascinating how much our bodies can push on after it hits a certain point.

People talk a lot about this physical and mental point when they run and they can just keep going for a long time. It’s easy to get in a reflective state when you’re bicycling when you hear nothing but the sound of wind, your pedals in rotation, and complete silence.

This is one of several sculptures that are displayed at the base of Le Morne.

Whenever we had a delay like his friend having a flat tire or we had to take an alternate route that set us back by two hours, Joseph would just turn to me and say, “This is part of the adventure. It’s a good experience. At least you can tell people the Tour of Mauritius is not easy. If there is no spice, you will have nothing to write about on your blog.”

My biggest personal challenge was at the end of the first day when we had to cycle another 2 hours than we had originally planned and rode over a continuous hill in an area called Albion. I haven’t pushed my body that far since I did a 500 km bike ride across Cambodia in 2009.

Before we began that hill, we had already been cycling for seven hours and my body was ready to push for one more hour to get to our final stop in Flic en Flac in the west. But I was beyond exhausted and just couldn’t push anymore at one point. I told Joseph, “I don’t know if I can make it to the end I think I’ll have to walk up all of the hills.”

Selfie in motion.

Joseph didn’t look annoyed. Instead he was extremely encouraging and said, “We’ll stop here, I’ll get you a soft drink. Right now you just need energy. You didn’t finish your whole plate of noodles, but I did so you just need energy. I am confident you can do it.” After I drank the soft drink I did surprisingly have a lot more energy than I did five minutes earlier when my body was going to crash.

Joseph had a lot of breaks because he would always wait for me a the top of the hill until I caught up. But never looked irritated and he always pushed me at the perfect time. After I had my minute-long breaks, he said, “Ok, ready to go?” He was never overly pushy at all but he made sure we both kept up the pace with enough breaks.

We pushed on slowly but surely and I was surprised how revived I felt. We were finally rewarded with a 3 km ride downhill, which was an amazing way to end the day.

My bike just chillin’.

One the second day we already had a two-hour delay in the first of our eight legs that we had to finish. Joseph was worried, but I said, “No worries we’ll be able to make it, we’re keeping a great pace.” We would have made it only if there were no other major delays like a flat tire. So it was my turn the second day to keep positive energy so throughout the two days we complemented teach other very well.

Our Tour of Mauritius reminded me of when I traveled and you just have to have good faith and an open mind to be prepared for setbacks. But don’t expect them to happen then you may subconsciously create that future.

Positive energy and encouragement will make you realize your potential. You can see obstacles as a barrier to your goal or as something you are determined to overcome so you become stronger.

I couldn’t believe Joseph slept at 10:00 p.m. after riding 11 hours and got up at 4:30 a.m. the next day. Because he was up, he prepared our breakfast, teas and snacks for the day for both of us while I was trying to squeeze in every minute of sleep I could get. Lazy. 

Having enough food fuel 

Joseph made sure that we both ate well throughout the ride and had a good breakfast and lunch. When we ride, we don’t get that hungry often, but of course we needed energy so he made sure we ate something small every hour like a chocolate bar. After my exhaustion peaks on the first day, even though I don’t usually like soft drinks, I made sure I drank one every two hours just to keep my energy up.

Finding creative solutions 

After a two-hour delay on our first of eight legs on day two, we finally arrived at the beach so we could walk three kilometers to get to the coastal road in order to avoid a huge hill climb. 

Travelers and people who live on few resources tend to be more creative and are often in situations where they have to find creative solutions to their problems. Many of my Cambodian friends are street smart. They don’t have big U-Hauls like we do in North America so they know how to use ropes and layer everything on a big wooden wagon to be able to transport the same amount of stuff. When my motto broke down, I was going to push the bike to the mechanic but my friend told me to just sit on my bike and he pulled me with one hand while he rode his motto.

When you’re traveling, you have to find out how to get around without speaking the local language or finding things you need. You learn to use images to communicate or make friends with locals who can take to where you need to go.

This was our lunch on our first day: octopus and fish curry on noodles. I was only able to eat half of the plate, which quite possibly contributed to my near downfall on the huge hill we had to climb on the end of the day. I should have eaten the whole plate for energy.

It appears as though people in Westernized cultures have forgotten how to talk to each other or seem extremely hesitant to talk to someone they don’t know. Joseph and I very similar in that we just ask for directions and are never afraid of getting lost whereas many people would freak out at the thought of being lost.

On our second day of the ride, we missed the dirt road on the map that was supposed to take us to the main road so we wouldn’t have to climb the big hill. Our backup plan was to get to the beach through the hotel and walk to the main road, but that didn’t work out because there were renovations and the whole beach was fenced off.

Stuffing ourselves with an Italian dinner after 11 hours of cycling on day one.

So finally Joseph asked a security guard to give us permission to get to the beach through the hotel because by that point, we were already two hours behind and with any more delays, we wouldn’t have made it to the end on time. The guard happened to do the Tour of Mauritius by bicycle himself and he said, “I can’t let you in but there is a small path that will lead to the beach just up ahead if you go through the trees.” We we went and made our little trek with our bikes until we made it to the beach.

Joseph said, “Even if we don’t make it by 5:00 p.m. we will keep riding until we finish. It’s not good if came all this way not to make it to the end.” His friends were taking his car down and were going to accompany us through the last part of the ride.

Slower pace wins the race

The winds blowing hard at the trees in southern Mauritius.

Joseph has been cycling a long time and on a daily basis so he knows what technique is best to reserve his energy. Sometimes I would stand up on my bike for the harder hills or not pedal for a few seconds and just let the bike to go reserve my energy.

But even if I was ahead for a bit, it wasn’t long until Joseph would steadily catch up to me and pass me. I kept thinking of the rabbit and the turtle story. Guess who was the rabbit? He said, “You have to pedal consistently at about one revolution per second and adjust your gears accordingly.”

 The final destination

We encountered almost all weathers during the two days: rain, wind and sun. If there was snow, that would be a first in Mauritius.

We were on the 12th hour of our ride and for some reason I got a burst of energy and could keep going, even up the hills. Joseph’s friends who we went hiking with in the past followed us in the truck for the last few kilometers of our tour.  It was nice to have the support of his friends of what we were doing because many other people just think we’re crazy.

When we finally did it, I got so much in a present state that even when we finished the ride it didn’t really hit me that we cycled around all of Mauritius and I was still very much in the moment. A few times in the ride I asked myself, “Why do you put your body through this torture every now and then when you could be very comfortable exercising at home or a more leisurely bike.” For me, it comes down to discovering my potential and personal satisfaction.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen fried noodles presented like this. This was Joseph’s dinner on the first day of our tour.

Joseph’s next ambitious goal is to do the Tour of Mauritius in one day! But I believe with his stamina he could do it. While we were riding he had already planned out how many kilometers he would need to cover in an hour in his head and said that he could do it in 13 hours.

And now he knows the routes and where we took wrong turns. I was really happy when he said, “I think I will take your idea and do a fundraiser when do the tour. People have done the Tour of Mauritius but I’m not sure how many people have done it in one day. That will get attention.” It was really sweet when he told me, “When I do the tour I will think of you and miss you. Whenever I take a break I’ll be on a hill and looking behind to see if you are coming.”

Joseph has been very easy to travel and cycle with because we are both easygoing, open-minded, adventurous, unafraid of getting lost, social with new people and have the same determination to try an ambitious goal just to see if we can do it. One of the world’s great snowboarders Travis Rice said, “You don’t know your full potential until we push ourselves to find it.”

So go out and discover your potential. 

 

 

Charity is not an excuse to dump your junk

Sorry for the lack of posts, it’s taken me two weeks to say goodbye to my entire family around Mauritius, no exaggeration.

I was glad to be invited to a non-profit home for elderly people in Mauritius and one of the board of directors and I were talking about how we were irritated when people would dump their crap for charity. I hope people will realize how disrespectful it is to give dirty things for charity.

I used to work with former refugees who were going to study at my university and we were responsible for collecting all the material things they needed for school and living like clothes and kitchenware. Every year, when we send the list of the specific items we needed and we got boxes of dirty clothes or bedsheets with blood on them. By the time we filtered the things we could use and things we couldn’t, we had to throw away other people’s junk.

I know many people have the mentality that “Poor people be grateful for whatever people give them.” Those same people also deserve the same dignity as everyone else and also the choice to say no. Some people get irritated when homeless people refuse food that is offered, but they have a choice. Even if you would act differently in the case that you were trying to survive on the street, that is your choice.

I don’t give anything to non-profits that I wouldn’t personally use myself. When I saw some of the dirty things that people dumped on us, I asked myself, “Would I use this?” If I said no, then I wouldn’t give it to the people we were supporting.

When I was working with an NGO in Cambodia, an expat whispered to me, “Don’t give the Cambodians the good utensils for their home, we could keep it for the kitchen.” As if the Cambodian people didn’t deserve the same standard as expats because we were somehow better in her mind.

I respect people who respect me no matter what their income, profession, or nationality is. When I give a gift to a friend, I give it from my heart and also respect their dignity. I more people will too over time.

 

Life doesn’t stop just because it rains

This is the most adventurous trail I’ve ever done in my life. We were trekking through Black River Gorges in the bush while it was raining most of the day.

I grew up in Vancouver, Canada where it rains most of the year so I’ve gotten used to it. But most people refuse to go out at all as soon as it rains since it’s windy and cold. But in places like Mauritius, an island-country close to South Africa, and Asia, it’s not that cold when it rains and can actually be quite refreshing.

What’s nice about Mauritius is there are microclimates. So if it’s raining in the wet city of Curepipe, it’s often sunny in other parts of this small island. If it’s cloudy in the south, it can be very sunny up north.

I’ve been going cycling with my cool cousin Joseph at least once a week for the past month. Like me, he’ll go out for a ride rain or shine. During our last ride, he told me, “I am not someone who is deterred by obstacles. I like to venture out and go alone. If I always wait for someone to come with me, I will never go.

Ben enjoying the natural water slide in Black River Gorges.

Going out rain or shine

Every time we start, the weather is very cold and wet in Curepipe but we always take a chance and venture out. We’ve been very lucky because the few times we went out with an open mind and moved away from Curepipe, the skies cleared up and we got a perfect breeze as we started our journey. It’s almost like we were rewarded for having an open mind.

The first time Joseph and I cycled 70 km, the rain came at the perfect time after we had been cycling for awhile and we were very hot. The rain was a blessing. When I was at my max tiredness going up a huge hill and there were dark clouds hovering over our heads, I saw a rainbow appear and it reminded me that there is beauty among the darkness and we just have to look for it and focus on that.

I unfortunately didn’t bring my camera to show you pictures of the last bicycle ride, but we started by the airport and ended up having the most scenic ride so far. We stayed along the south coast where the roads were ride, streets were quiet and we heard nothing but the constant waves crashing against the rocks and wind brushing against our skin. As I looked at the waves hitting the rocks, the spectacular turquoise colour manifests itself as it gets closer to the land.

We passed one of many streams in the mountains.

Joseph asked me, “I don’t know the way but we can explore. If we don’t try, we won’t know.” Most Mauritians have never stepped foot on these parts of the island, because you either have to walk among the trees or bicycle. Joseph and I travel in a similar style, which is very hard to find among many Asian families. We like to stay away from tourist spots, venture deep into the land, connect with people in the communities, and are not afraid to venture without a map because you can always ask people around to find your way back.

Yesterday we finished a full day hike at Black River Gorges National Park and it ended up raining a lot and became very slippery. Almost all of us fell at some point, we had to use our hands to pass through the forest trail and all of the mud. But venturing this this path was a lot of fun and definitely the most adventurous hiking route I’ve done in my life.

We can’t predict how the weather or the day will be. But if we always wait for the perfect circumstances, we may never go out and do what we enjoy.

While Joseph and I were climbing the continuous hills after 6 hours of riding, a rainbow appeared as we are heading back home among the dark clouds.

Look for beauty, not negativity

Most of the people I come across both in Canada, Asia and Mauritius live in their routines and the walls of their home. I know we are creatures of habit but in order for people to grow and learn, we need to break out of our walls and see all the beauty the world has to offer and the wonderful people we meet.

I feel very sad for over-sheltered children around the world. I understand the intention of parents to protect their children but as they grow older, the parents are taking away their ability to be self-sufficient, quick on their feet and deal with difficult situations. Some of the brightest and well-mannered kids I’ve met are in the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia, many of whom grew up in the jungle or the farm.

As we live our lives, people often spend most of the time looking at the dark clouds. Go out and look between the clouds and you may find a beautiful rainbow in your day. After all, you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.

Cycling in Delicious Mauritius

My cool cousin Joseph sailing down the hill east of Mauritius.

I can’t believe I went five months without sitting on a single bicycle since I’ve been in Mauritius until last week. I cycled for years in Vancouver, Canada and almost every day in Cambodia so I was getting antsy to ride.

My family’s not really into outdoor activities until finally I discovered one of my cousin’s husband Joseph used to hike every week in Mauritius for decades and cycles to work every day. For the last month, he’s introduced me to his friend Mukesh who knows all of the hiking and cycling routes in Mauritius like the back of his hand.

I took full advantage of any hills we got and pedaled as quick as I could.

The 70 km ride in the West

Last Saturday I thought Joseph was just free to ride for an hour or two but we ended up doing a 70 km ride from the centre of Mauritius in Curepipe to Bambous in the west then all the way back up the big hill to get back to Curepipe. We rode for six hours.

I haven’t pushed my body physically in such a long time. When you’re not exercising consistently, it can be a big jump. But in my head, I was determined to stay on the bike and push through and not walk the bike up. I discovered that when I look down when I’m pushing up a big hill, my body gets tired much more quickly than when I look up the sky. I forgot how much people can push their bodies to their full potential and the ride reminded me that when we put ourselves in challenging situations in life, it’s an opportunity for us to learn and grow.

An attempted selfie.

Bicycling focuses my mind and puts things more in perspective. I reflect a lot while I’m riding and concentrate on breathing slowly. It is a unique meditation that makes me refocus on the bigger picture that is nature. It’s so easy for our minds to fixate on negative things going on in our lives or negative moments. But when you’re outdoors, you are reminded than those problems are small dots in the big picture and that there are many more positive things to focus on.

We enjoyed a local roti before the long ride up the hill.

While I was pushing through the ride, I kept thinking of what our friend Pi Nan on Mindful Farm told us in Thailand, “We feel sad when we think of negative things on the past. Just focus on your breath and be present. When you are meditating just focus on the present. And remember to smile while you meditate.” Pi Nan was a monk for 20 years before starting his self-sufficient organic farm in northern Thailand.

I’m fascinated by how little food I need to eat while I’m doing full day hikes or bike rides. All we ate was a local roti, a type of Indian bread, with curry and a pineapple on the road.

A pitstop at Les 7 Cascades, a popular place for people to hike and do canyoning (repelling down on a rope by the waterfalls).

Mentally I didn’t give myself the option of stopping, I just kept looking up the sky and didn’t focus on how many more kilometres we had to go. I just kept pedaling towards the sky. My body kept magically gained energy from somewhere. I see how if people don’t have the mental willpower, their bodies will not push through to achieve what they want. Our bodies respond to our minds so if people don’t believe something can be done, then they won’t act.

By the time we finally reached home, I was proud that I managed to bike the whole route without getting off the bike.

The 80+ km ride in the east

I call Joseph’s friend Mukesh Santa Claus because he has a long white beard. But he’s ok with that, I asked him permission.

We did a fantastic ride going from Montagne Blanche in the east of Mauritius then riding along the coast to the south of the island then back up to where we started. There were surprisingly not that many hills on this route, especially compared to the route we did the week before.

On the way to the coast.

It was nice to pass through very small villages and the weather was perfect. It wasn’t too hot and we had a beautiful breeze by the water.

One highlight of the day for me was when a woman we bought snacks from came up to our table 10 minutes after we bought food and she genuinely said, “I’m so sorry sir, I owe you 30 rupees from what you bought.” In a country where many people are trying to scam you, it was really beautiful to see this lovely woman acting so honestly. But every country I’ve been to in Asia where scams are common, there are just as many, if not more, good people who are honest and genuine whether they are rich or poor.

Within minutes after we came back after riding for 7 hours, rain began pouring heavily. We had perfect timing. Even if it rained, we would have gone out somewhere. Life doesn’t stop just because it rains.

When we finally arrived back, Santa Claus’ wife was so kind to prepare farata (an Indian pancake bread) with a curry and soup for us.

Another day, another beautiful ride.

This wonderful woman who we bought cakes from came to our table and returned some change to Santa Claus when she realized she kept an extra $1 US by mistake.

Joseph cut us a sugar cane to eat.

This sugar cane was actually sweet. Sometimes when you suck the sugar cane it’s not that sweet until it’s been processed.

Going off the road through private land.

Santa Claus getting us into another private area where we can see the dam.

Good quality bikes.

A scenic ride away from the coast.

The rain is coming.

A very peaceful rest stop on the east coast.

A local snack called gateau piment, which are chilli cakes made up of split peas, chilli, onions, coriander and cumin.

 

A local snack called channi pourri.

We took two samosas, 5 gateau piments and three chani pourris all for 28 rupees, just under $1 US.

View on the southern coast.

These were the cannons that were used when former colonials battled for the land.

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Hiking Mauritius’ mountains

This is the viewpoint from one of the peaks overlooking the south of Delicious Mauritius.

It’s taken me months to find family and friends who enjoy hiking in Mauritius, Africa. There aren’t many high mountains on the island but you can do full day hikes at some locations like Black River Gorges National Park where we went. I have now hiked at the national park twice, including a 25 km hike last week, and it’s been beautiful to see this natural wonders of Mauritius.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a rainbow form at the bottom of a waterfall. It began as a half rainbow then transformed into a full one.

The Black River Gorges National Park is the largest protected forest of Mauritius and has over 50 km of trails. It used to be a common hunting ground but the area became protected in 1993 when a group of scientists identified over 300 species of plants, birds and a population of giant fruit bats. The area also has the island’s most endangered species including the Mauritius kestrel, echo parakeet and pink pigeon.

One of several beautiful waterfalls at the park.

The park is often filled with locals and expats who do their regular walks on the variety of trails as well as people who enjoy mountain biking. There are nice picnic areas in the park where you can enjoy your food. The first time we went to the park, my cousin Josef was very nice and picked me up and brought loads of food to share with the group.

I wanted to wait until I hiked with either a group or local people because I don’t know the trails well and there have been some attacks on tourists in some areas of Mauritius. I don’t believe it’s widespread and this national park has quite a few people around in the daytime.

The trails on the map are categorized as easy, less difficult and difficult. But the “easy” trail we went on in the morning was quite rocky and had varied trail. I enjoy these types of trails but it was funny to me that it was classified as “easy.”

You’ll need a car to get there as it’s not accessible by bus. You can do one of the trails and go back the same way to get to the car. Or if you have energy and faith in your sense of direction, you can do a full day and do a circle loop to get back to your car.

If you like hiking and visiting Mauritius for even a few days, I recommend doing one of the trails at Black River Gorges and has one of the best views of the island.

A nice hangout hut overlooking the south of the island.

This is the group we went hiking with a few weeks ago and we enjoyed a delicious lunch eating samosas, sandwiches and hot drinks before we set out for our afternoon hike.

 

This is Mukesh, I call him Santa Claus because of his beard. He showed me this tree called, “arbre du voyageur,” which means traveler’s tree. When you stab it in the right place, water pours out. I tried the water, it tasted clean.

A rainbow appeared during the first 30 minutes of our full day hike while we were walking at the top of one of the mountains.

 

 

Canyoning in Mauritius

 

DSC01749I’ll be honest. The first time I heard the word canyoning in my home island-country Mauritius, I thought it meant that people swang on a rope between two cliffs.

When my cousin took me canyoning at Les 7 Cascades, I discovered that we would be repelling down a cliff beside a waterfall 25 meters down. Les 7 Cascades means “seven waterfalls” and there are many local and international visitors who visit the area for trekking.

It’s recommended to go with a guide or a local who knows the route very well because it’s quite easy to get lost. If you can afford it, you can get a group of four to share a guide and it’s about 1600 rupees per person without lunch or 1900 rupees with lunch.

Our guide Oliver was great and he explained how to use the canyoning equipment very well. He first gave us wetsuits since we would be going in water. He gave us a good training session on how to repel down the rope properly and how to also be the safety person.

Les 7 Cascades has the best views and landscape around Mauritius and I highly recommend making a visit here if you appreciate our dear Mother Nature.

The hardest part was actually at the beginning where you are just clipping on the cliff and you can see the right to the ground. Repelling down is easier and the more fun part. We did about 45 minutes of walking and trekking to get from one point to another.

Our training session on how to use the ropes and clips.

Oliver guiding us from the top of the cliff.

Getting used to the ropes and walking at the top is probably the scariest part of the whole experience.

Jon just hangin’.

Our training session on how to use the ropes and clips.

Checking out the view without falling.

Our guide Oliver enjoying himself while repelling down.

After we repelled down the first waterfall, we had the option to cliff jump 6 meters into the water. I’m a pretty adventurous person but cliff jumping scares me quite a bit. I had to push myself to do it. I always believe in pushing yourself in challenging situations. Once you start, you’re committed and there’s no turning back. Three of us made the leap and jumped.

A fantastic view by the waterfall.

The landing.

 

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My cousin Jon with his son, me, and his daughter-in-law. They were visiting Mauritius from Australia.

 

 

 

Don’t let fears shield kindness

People bartering on the streets of Port Louis, the capital of Delicious Mauritius.

Right now I’m in my birth country Mauritius, a small island-country, off the south-east coast of Africa.

I’m sure most of you know people who are so paranoid about the world that they over shelter their children and tell them all the scary stories about how they will be killed, attacked or rape if they mingle with the wrong people. No exaggeration.

Even though for the next few months I’m living in the same country as some people here, we live in completely different worlds. In their world, people constantly at risk of getting mugged, attacked and people outside their circles cannot be trusted. I feel guilty that I let some people’s irrational fears led me to create an unnecessary guard during my first two weeks here. What I’ve experienced so far in Mauritius on the street, public transit and financially destitute communities is nothing but genuine kindness and people who are helpful.

The most vibrant and funniest women I’ve met in Mauritius. They love to joke, dance and have big hearts. They were teaching me how to dance saga, a catchy traditional dance style in Mauritius.

My grandma lives just 15 minutes from the city centre so I just walk around only in the daytime. It’s true that in Mauritius, it’s not generally safe to walk around or go around at night unless you have a car and with a group of people. But in the daytime, common sense will protect you.

In my first two weeks trying to navigate Port Louis, when I got lost, I asked a man for directions and he kindly offered to walk me part way to my direction. I made sure I held my valuables tight and prepare for the worst and even thought, “I shouldn’t let him walk me all the way, then he’ll know where I’m going and what if he and other people try to steal something later on. I don’t know what it’s like here.” As soon as I knew where I was, I thanked him for his help and continued on.

But he is not the first person to be so kind to me and I realized that I got sucked into other people’s unjustified fears. I’ve been traveling on my own for a year and a half, and like anywhere else, I use street smarts and my intuition to judge who I can and cannot interact with.

Packed van coming back from an all-night beach jam West of Mauritius under star-covered sky. While most people don’t go out past 6 p.m. in Mauritius, if you find the right crowd, it’s safe and fun.

Another time I went the wrong direction and I asked a woman in her 50s where to go. She said, “I saw you walking up the street and the other woman sent you the wrong way. If I didn’t have to be at a meeting I would drive you myself.” Then she took time to draw me a map of where to go. She was really sweet.

There are so many busses around Mauritius and it’s not always clear where to go, so I always ask. I asked an old man about the bus before everyone got on. Before he said down, he asked if he could sit beside me and I said yes. He told me a bit about his life, and where he grew up. He got off a few stops before mine and he told me to enjoy the rest of my trip.

I’m not naive of the dangers that exist in every country, but there is a difference between being cautiously prudent and being unjustifiably paranoid. Irrational fears create an unnecessary barrier to experiencing the kindness of people who live next to you.

Our lovely couch surfing friends we miss so much that we met in the Philippines. We became instant friends after meeting in the travel community. Good energy attracts good energy.