Memory Making in Mauritius

This time last month we were memory making in Mauritius, and while the tans have already started to fade, I know the memories we made will last forever.

On the day of our departure from the UK, we woke up to bright sunshine trickling through the bedroom blind, filling our room with little rays of sunlight. On any other day this would have been a welcome sight, but this sunshine made me feel slightly blue as waving goodbye to England while the sun shines has never felt quite right to me. I really do not think there is anywhere quite like it on a sunny day.

Once over the fact the day was not the gloomy one I had hoped for when jetting off out of the country, the other emotions I felt that morning were those of excitement and anticipation at later in the day embarking on the biggest adventure we have had as a family of four to date. There were also feelings of unease about the 11.30-hour flight we had ahead of us with two young children who had never flown, and as such questioning our sanity at booking a long-haul trip as the first one.

Many of you reading this will know, planning holidays has always been my area of responsibility over the years, and is something I thoroughly enjoy doing, however on this occasion it was Chris who booked and planned our Mauritius holiday. Chris had aimed at doing this as a surprise for my Christmas/Birthday present, I say aimed as he is absolutely dreadful at keeping surprises, he gets far too excited and just has to share whatever it is he’s planning. In this case I knew back in November what he was up to, down to the hotel which I ended up choosing out of the three top choices. Without knowing it at the time of booking, it turned out to be the hotel that my sister stayed at a few years previous.

Back to the morning of our departure, with all the bags packed and ready to go, I got up and took the dogs out on a long walk in the woods. I was going to miss them terribly, Bunter especially as he has been my rock since losing Shiva and I know he struggles without us. Winter, I knew would miss us and it’s not that I love her any less, but she seems quite happy if she’s with Bunter and gets fed! Saying goodbye to the animals has always been something I struggle with on the lead up to going abroad, the guilt of leaving them weighs heavy on my heart and this was with me while we walked. As we walked clouds slowly began to build above our heads and as we rounded the corner back to the car a soft light rain fell on our heads, and all at once the excitement of our holiday returned to me. With the dogs walked and the horses mucked out I had time for luxury shower at my mums, by luxury I refer to a non-interrupted shower and then dallied about with the dogs not wanting to return to a quieter and emptier house without them. Home is simply not home without them.

It was just before 12noon when I arrived home to a flurry of excitement from Rupert, a red faced and hassled husband, and a calm and collected Darcie yet to be dressed.

Our taxi was due to arrive around 12:30 but did not get to us until much later, so for half an hour Rupert was constantly at the window or asking is he here yet. Once the taxi arrived and the luggage and car seats began being loaded into the car, it gave Rupert time to climb his favourite tree and Darcie to take a quick snack in it. It wasn’t long before Rupert was then helping to load the luggage to assist getting us on our merry way.

When we arrived at Gatwick airport the children were both full of energy at being in a new environment and all that was to come, Rupert especially who loved just being at the airport. Chris and I on the other hand were feeling apprehensive about the flight and how we would hold their attention for the duration of the flight.

We did a quick scan of the others in check-in to see if there were any other families with young children so that it would potentially dilute any disturbances from our side. Thankfully, we spotted another couple with a two-year-old. A couple who we would later become friends with during our time away.

Darcie and I slowly made our way through the airport while Chris was dashing about with Rupert who wanted to see everything, he of course managed to seek out dinosaur toys! While Darcie and I meandered, Darcie received compliments left right and centre as well as adoring looks as she and I walked side by side pulling along her suitcase in the prettiest of dresses, perfectly finished off with her sunhat (which she was most fond of and loved wearing all the time, she also liked to make sure we all had our hats on throughout the holiday). She did look utterly adorable. One man who was clearly in a hurry to catch his flight touched my arm as he rushed past us and simply said beautiful, just beautiful before continuing on his way.

After a short 30-minute wait at the gate, it was time to board, Rupert by this point was beside himself with excitement and ran all the way to the plane. As it turned out we needn’t have lost sleep over the flight as after Darcie got over having to sit on one of our laps and put up with wearing a seatbelt for take-off, all was well (to begin with there was a lot of screaming and passing her back and forth as she asked for one then the other parent, before she eventually had to simply settle with whoever she was with, in this case Chris). After take-off Darcie promptly fell asleep in an awkward position, and Rupert settled into one of the programmes he began watching on repeat for a good couple of hours (The Flint Stones and Micky’s Club House), both turned out to be splendid little travellers there and back.

We did not have to have a seat for Darcie as she is under two (just), however we did book her one anyway, the thought of having to have a potentially restless toddler on either of our laps for the duration of the flight was an uncomfortable thought. As it turned out both ways, we had six seats to ourselves which was a huge relief and benefit. I was able to lay beside Darcie and feed her to sleep as she is accustomed to at home and snuggle up with her and Chris and Rupert could also get a decent sleep in too. At home, screen time is limited but, on the plane, we allowed as much as they wanted, for Rupert this was a lot, of the same two programmed on repeat (Micky mouse club and the flintstones), for Darcie this time was minimal as she has little interest in television. However, finding Nemo did keep her entertained for a good 30 minutes as we fed the fish on screen to giggles and utters of more more!

Looking out of the window and showing her Paw Patrol toys the view was also a useful source of entertainment for a good while. I had thoughtfully packed their carry-ons with many new toys and activities, but to be honest most items did not even make it out of the bags, the most used and useful items turned out to be suction toys, a finger paint book, and LCD doodle tablets and paw patrol pups.

We landed in Mauritius the morning of my Birthday which this year also happened to be Mother’s Day, and what a way to celebrate the occasions with my little family in a beautiful place on our first family holiday abroad.

Upon landing Chris discovered that despite me pleading with him not to in case it got lost, he took his wedding ring off and put it in his pocket for the flight and as I feared he did indeed lose the ring on the flight, so we had the palaver of informing the airline of this immediately once though customs. That ring is never to be seen again, much like my own which I lost back in October!

An hour or so later we were arrived at our hotel Zilwa Attitude. Upon walking into the main bar we were immediately greeted with a gorgeous view of the beach framed by palm trees and bobbing around in the middle a scattering of boats, this was to become my favourite view for the week.

By the time we checked into our room it was past 2pm and we had two very restless, tired children. We had filled our first few hours with brunching, swimming and making sandcastles on the beach, checking out the local wildlife and chatting to another couple and their daughter who was the same age as Darcie, the family we noticed in check in at Gatwick.

By the end of the first day Chris was already burnt and began peeling a day or so later. I on the other hand had been adamant that neither the children or myself would burn and had lathered us up in factor 50 from the moment we arrived at the hotel (well from the moment I could locate the sun cream as I rummaged in the luggage that I thought I had packed so meticulously, I lost count of how many times I opened and then locked each suitcase in the heat that morning while Chris grew more and more frustrated by me and my scattiness). I had also been adamant we would not get bitten and after applying sun cream sprayed and slapped on insect repellent every few hours. This protected the children but did very little to help me avoid bites from the pesky biters, I was bitten more than ever before, particularly between the hours of 12 and 2am daily.

The first day was a long one, and it really took its toll on Darcie who drifted off for a nap in the sea while floating about in her inflatable ring.

Upon entering our family room, Rupert did make me chuckle when he said, “that strange, that really really strange,( as he referred to the lack of fridge which was hidden in a cupboard) and that there was no kitchen in our house” before he busied himself with finding where all the other important things were, such as the kettle and the telephone. I busied myself with getting us settled and unpacked only to discover that Chris had forgotten to pack himself any shorts!

There was plenty to do at the hotel to keep a family busy for a week, from water sports and excursions and a kids club. Personally, neither of us would make use of a kids club on a family holiday as we like to enjoy every moment (no matter how challenging some moments could be)! together as a family, but it was useful to play in the sand pit and the boat on a few occasions while staying with the children.

We did have a handful of trips planned, none of which took place. We had booked a driver for the day to take us to see the volcano, giant turtles, and a waterfall, this one was cancelled last minute as despite informing our agent and having it agreed the driver arrived without any car seats for the children. As we would not drive without them at home, we were not about to do this in another country. Chris had also thoughtfully organised a sunset horse ride for me on the beach ending with wine and cheese. This sounded amazing and part of me does regret my decision to pull out, but for me I had come away with my family and I wanted to spend the time all together and not disappear for an afternoon/evening without them. We had also booked a private sunset dinner cruise from the hotel, but due to the weather this to was cancelled, along with many of our other booked excursions which were in affect rained off. It rained most days while we were in Mauritius, and when it rained gosh did it come down hard, however just as quickly as the rain came it stopped and it was actually quite refreshing. Both Darcie and I also took it in turns to be ill for a day each so that was two days lost out of eight. This meant we spent all but half a day at the hotel which don’t get me wrong was lovely and I feel very privileged to have been there, but it did highlight to us that as a family there is only so much sitting around on a beach we can manage (four days tops) before we got itchy feet to move on and see and do more. I for one have never been one to sit around on beaches for long periods of time, I need to be exploring and immersing myself in whichever county I am in, thankfully it turns out the rest of my family are the same which did surprise me with Chris who has I always believed enjoyed this style of travel, which was why he wanted to honeymoon in the Maldives and me in Canada! We are on the same page with travel at least these days!

Of the excursions we did do, we took the hotels glass bottomed boat ride out to the reef, both children promptly fell asleep on this boat trip. Due to the weather conditions, we did not see much so it is not as if they missed out on much!

The one trip we did take outside of the hotel was that of a swimming with turtle’s experience. Our taxi picked us up and again despite requesting car seats for the children we only had one but were due to collect the second from the drivers’ house, so we went with it. We arrived at the beach had a quick change and then boarded the boat along with two other families. It was not long before we left the beach that the first, (and only) turtle was spotted by the crew, and all aside from Darcie and myself jumped into the water. With minutes Rupert wanted to get back on the boat, he felt a bit out of his depth, literally. He managed it well as he did not panic just asked politely if he could get back on the boat. We watched on while Chris swam about in the water in search of another turtle for which he never found. To their surprise the children did spot a large and hairy Daddy fish from the glass bottomed boat.

One of the main things I was looking forward to while away was not having to cook or meal plan for week. Mealtimes however turned out to be tricky, at breakfast neither of the children wanted to sit down but play or run off, lunch was much of the same and suppers were the worst, neither wanted to sit still unless they were asleep on us. Every evening at least one of them would fall asleep on us or sitting in their chair. On the first night we pushed two chairs together and loaded them up with pillows to lay a sleeping Rupert down and he slept on next to us while we ate, Darcie then swiftly fell asleep on me too, just as a birthday cake was presented to us at the table. They missed out on that treat!

I took to breakfasting alone, adamant that while away my favourite meal of the day would not be affected! After my meal I would box up pastries, fruit and whatever else I thought the children would enjoy and they ate this back at the room where they could pick at things while continuing to play or do whatever they wanted to do.

Often at dinner Rupert wanted pizza and we would then promptly fall asleep so we would have it boxed up and he would take to eating it cold (yuk), the next morning in bed!

One evening we met our new friends in the bar for pre-dinner drinks and had supper with them and their daughter Lyra, this was a breath of fresh air as Lyra much like our own children did not want to sit still for long at the table. It was nice to come across another family whose child was also easily distracted at mealtimes and that we were not alone in refusing to revert to tactics of phones and iPad at the dinner table (however tempting at times this can be)! The children and Lyra’s poor Dad ran around in the evening heat while the rest of us managed to eat a meal in peace.

One of Darcie’s past times was eating Seve or nuts and sharing these with her new bird friends who appeared whenever they saw her.

Aside from feeding the birds, Darcie also took to bug spotting during our walks around the hotel. Darcie had a particular interest in the large snails that appeared after the rain. She would bend down and call them bummers. In fact, every bug we came across was referred to as a bummer. When we were not bug spotting on the pathways Darcie and I were seeking out flowers to go behind our ears to finish off our evening outfits.

Every night after dinner there was music played and disco lighting around the main bar, the children loved this (when they were able to stay awake of course), they would each ask for a glass of ice and nuts for Darcie as they danced the night away. Each evening it appeared to be a toddler take over on the dance floor! Both Darcie and Rupert took to pole dancing, and arguing over poles where there was only one available as other children also thought this looked fun! It was during these dances that Rupert’s eyes were opened to girls! He would often come up to me and ask me if I would ask a girl to dance with him. I took a step back and encouraged him to do this himself.

On our second to last day we took a boat out of the lagoon to the tiny island for a beach BBQ.

Although the hotel was by no means at full capacity, this quieter place to retreat to was a lovely addition to the hotel.

A couple of days towards the end of our trip, Rupert had his first holiday romance, a little girl by the name of Grace. Those last days away were spent with Grace and her family by the pool, beach and a few mealtimes. Rupert even went as far as leaving his sisters bucket and spade set with her to secure a meetup once back in the UK. I missed the scene but at one point Rupert had got himself a coconut to drink and asked for two straws and then went over to Grace who was swimming in one of the pools as Rupert ran around after her saying he had a coconut and two straws as she dived under water time and time again unable to hear his please for her to share his coconut! On the lead up to our checkout Rupert was evidently sad at leaving Grace and I suggested he go to her room a couple of doors down and ask her if she would like to join us for a milkshake in the bar while we waited for our taxi. The eight of us sat in the bar and said our goodbyes, Rupert gave Grace a cuddle goodbye and although I did not see his face Chris said it was quite the picture after the hug.

For the most part, we spent our days in the pools, digging up the beach, eating often it seemed and watching the children dancing the night away with their new friends.

There were about six resident dogs, who quietly roamed the hotel, one of whom we all took a shining to, Rupert named her Arla. Rupert was always on the lookout for her and made sure we left fresh water out daily as well as something to eat that was dog friendly of course for when she stopped by to pay us a visit. She was a pretty and sweet little dog, who had evidently just had puppies and we did see the pups on a few occasions. All the dogs were well covered, and we noted other people giving them water too which was nice to see as I had seen them drinking out of the swimming pools which was a concern. All the dogs were pleasant enough and kept themselves to themselves, and they could not have been that hungry as they turned their noses up at eggs.

Due to the delay, we had getting into our room on arrival, we had been offered a late checkout the day of departure and Chris on the day he thought we were leaving went to check us out only to discover he was a day early! Most would see this a bonus, but we were ready to go home both in mind and practically as we were all packed up and in the mindset of going home. In the words of Darcie, it was a real BUMMER! It turned out that being all packed and ready to leave would be a blessing as that night I became very unwell to the point Chris got a Dr out and it was suggested I go into hospital on a drip. I refused this and where I could slept it off. Come the next day I would have been unable to pack anything away as spent the extra day in bed unable to do anything with a very docile Darcie by my side while the boys spent the day with our new friends. At one point I remember Rupert appearing at the bedside and asking if I wanted a cup of tea, which I felt was rather sweet of him. I was feeling so poorly I was not sure I would be able to make the flight home but somehow did manage this and by 10pm when boarding the plane, although not 100% I was on the way to recovering. Apparently, Chris tells me I get ill every time we go away, so this does not bode well for us!

We said our goodbyes to Grace and her family and jumped in our taxi at 6.30pm to catch our flight home at 10pm. The drive took around an hour and we watched the county pass us by until it grew too dark to distinguish anything. At the airport both Darcie and Rupert were still full of beans as we made our way through check-in and duty free. We picked up what minimal food we could find and located a corner spot to sit on the floor looking out across the dark runway with out plane in view while we waited to be called to board.

We have come away with lots of lovely memories of our time spent as a family in Mauritius (it was here that Darcie learnt to say Rupert), as well as many lessons learnt for the next time we travel.

Walking barefoot in the sand with one baby in my arms and the other with his little hand in mine was a real pinch myself moment, I had dreamed of doing this with my children long before they were even born.

Out of all the places I have travelled, Mauritius is the one place that has left me feeling incomplete in my travels and that we did not make the most of our time there in many ways. Perhaps though this was just what we needed this time around, no rushing, nowhere to be, just us in a warm and beautiful place doing things slowly and as we pleased. Without a doubt, travel with children especially so young is a very different experience, yet no less enjoyable as you get to see the world though their magical eyes so full of wonder, it was a reminder that its not the destination but the journey that matters, and what fun these two sweet little people make the journey. I especially loved watching them together and their bond grow ever closer.

Rupert seems to be following in my footsteps in having a love of throwing parties and getting involved in the decoration side of things. One afternoon while sitting outside the room on the loungers after returning from the swimming with a giant turtle experience, for which the hotel had provided us with a picnic . Rupert insisted I stay inside the room while he set up a surprise for me. Once I was allowed back outside with Darcie, I was presented with a birthday picnic which he had set out for me. This boy really is so sweet and thoughtful. During our feast he did tell me he missed his teddies, but then went on to say “I like it here, coconuts, all these trees and pretty flowers gesturing around us.

On our last night after dinner, with Darcie feeling under the weather and wanting to get back for her milk, we left the boys and our new friends to enjoy the last night dancing (well the children anyway). On the way back to the room we took a detour and sat in a lounger in the dark looking out across the lagoon listening to the waves while having a cuddle, in that moment I felt a huge wave of gratitude come over me, for all the years I wished for exactly what I had, a little family all of my own, and who fill my cup daily even on the days I feel depleted and wonder if I have got anything right that day. After ten minutes or so, we went to dip our toes and splashed about giggling in the warm sea for a few minutes before heading back to our room to sleep (or so I thought) the night away.

Making sand angels despite the roughness of the sand in places.

Although I don’t feel I got to know Mauritius well as a country, what I will say is that the people are very warm and welcoming with a real love of children. Although it will not be anytime soon as there are other places on our travel list, sometime in the future we would like to return to Mauritius, when the children are a little older and can take part in more activities. That’s not to say Mauritius is not a good holiday destination for little children as I believe it is, perhaps just not in March when they have high rainfall. Ours turned out to be quite happy simply with a bucket and spade beach and pool, but there is more to this island than that for them we just did not get to experience it on this trip.

I don’t know when or where our family travels will take us next but I am already looking forward to the next time. I love to travel, and travel with the children was so much fun and rich with learning experiences for them, and for us too.

Love for now,

Emma x

Author: mylittlecountrylife

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