I was in Mauritius during Diwali, or the Festival of Lights as it is also known. During the festival celebrations clay pots are filled with oil and burnt overnight in households symbolising the power of good over evil. The first evening I was there I stumbled across a free open air dance performance, put on as part of the Diwali celebrations. It was great to see some traditional Indian dance. While I was watching I got chatting to a local who explained the story of the dance to me, it was a really special evening and gave me a better understanding of the festival.
The next day I went exploring outside of the well manicured waterfront complex where I was staying to the Central Bazaar in Port Louis. Here I discovered what the real Mauritius is all about. Bustling streets full of sellers, market stalls and people going about their day to day business, it was quite manic and took me a little while to adjust to the buzzing atmosphere. Having visited a few of India’s big cities it happily reminded me of these, although on a much smaller scale. I would describe Port Louis as ‘a little slice of India’. I love immersing myself in local culture, and a visit to the fruit and vegetable markets here allowed me to do this. It was great to see what the locals were eating and buying, the colours and smells of the fruit and vegetables were just so vivid. Upstairs in the market were stalls full of fabrics, pashminas, herbs and spices; a great place to purchase souvenirs. The stall owners were really friendly, one man I spoke to had family in the UK, making me realise just how small the world can be. I found that everybody wanted to sell me something, the markets were very busy and sellers would jump out from all angles! Taking a chilled out approach, I would politely decline and move on!
I love nothing more than a good haggle, and this is a great place to do just that! I found the best way to barter was by being calm and bargaining hard until I got the price I wanted. My advice on getting a bargain is to be persistent and enjoy it, you can have a joke along the way too! If they won’t go to the price you want then walk away, there are so many stalls selling the same things, if they really want a sale then they will come after you! I purchased some lovely pashminas and vanilla pods, which are very pricey in the UK. Lots of items I came across in the markets were described as ‘magic’, which made me laugh! “Come and see this magic bowl!” or “You must try these magic pants!” Actually I quite liked the magic pants, he almost had me with those, going as far as to dress me up in them and show me all the different ways they could be worn. Magic, but definitely not something I could wear in the UK!