Special holidays for my 40th birthday
Unforgettable days in Mauritius
My holiday: if it were a scent, it would be vanilla: that of the oil of the hotel’s very elegant spa- the same I brought home with me-; but also the sweet smell of our freshly cleaned rooms and of the afternoon tea that we enjoyed in the shade of big palm trees. If it were a color, it would be green, a deep green color that fills your eyes and makes you feel light-hearted. Or it would be a rainbow of fruit and spices, in such a rich variety that I myself was surprised, although I come from a land that has fruit and spices in abundance! And if it were a memory? Swimming in the rain and the very warm waters… it brought me back to my childhood years in Havana and it was wonderful to see the same joy in the eyes of my children.
In short, fabulous days, an unforgettable birthday. But let’s start from the beginning: the whole family went on a trip to Mauritius to celebrate my 40th birthday. Mauritius is a paradise island of white, sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters in the middle of the Indian Ocean, just off the African coast. We stayed at the Constance le Prince Maurice, located in a private area along the island’s eastern coast. An intimate design hotel, designed by the architectural genius Jean Marc Eynaud and designer David Edwards and inspired by the Feng Shui principles to create the perfect sense of harmony. Quiet during the day with its infinity pool, beautiful golf course and Kids Club; magical at night, with warm and welcoming lights that make it look like a dream island rising from the sea.
I kept a small diary of each day’s events and special moments, which I would like to share with you.
The capital Port Louis, the colonial Chateau de Labourdonnais estate; the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden (José as tall as the flowers). Our day began with the visit to the colorful and chaotic capital city Port Louis with its food and spice market, to experience the island’s authentic, everyday life. Located not far from the capital city is Chateau de Labourdonnais, a special place that takes you on a journey back in time to Mauritius in the 1800s, with its colonial buildings, sugarcane plantations. Only a handful of these estates are left on the island. Chateau de Labourdonnaise is the most beautiful one: elegant interiors, a rum distillery and a restaurant run by the Italian chef Fabio de Poli, who combines Italian cuisine and local ingredients (the black cod with breadfruit purée is a must-try!).
Not far from there is the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, commonly known as Pamplemousses Botanical Garden: aromas of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, but also giant and beautifully red- colored water lilies and an endless, worldwide-renowned collection of native and exotic plants. I rediscovered the contact with nature that I had nearly forgotten. One unforgettable image? José amidst giant flowers looking like the Garden’s elf!
My birthday… the fabulous 40s! To think I was afraid of turning 40! It was a wonderful day. After countless swims and runs along the white sandy beach, we lunched on freshly-caught fish under a tent on the beach. I got pampered at the spa for most of the afternoon and got ready for dinner. Barachois Restaurant for four! A super-chic raft floating on the water with soft lights and music playing… and my children laughing! The only voices heard, but they cheered up the atmosphere. I had lobster, my favorite dish, with a dash of curry-flavored mayonnaise.
Heading South… to the Sacred Grand Bassin Lake, which is believed to have been created from a drop of the Ganges river falling from the sky and is dedicated to Indian Gods, including Ganga Maha, Anouman and Durga. One can take part in a Hindu rite ending with a benediction. And also the tea plantations of Bois Chéri, the waterfalls, the Lands of the seven colors and the Chamarel rum distillery.
Ines and water skiing. And finally, Ines’s first attempt at water skiing and swimming in the warm rain: childhood memories rushing back and new memories of wonderful days with my family. And also the trip to the Ile aux Cerfs, a paradise of tropical vegetation and white, sandy beaches, having lunch on the catamaran, snorkeling face to face with amazing fish…
Memories fill my mind with bliss now that I’m back home and rain has replaced the sunny skies of Mauritius. Just a few more words to say that Mauritius can be described as a journey of the senses: sight– terrific colors, above all, deep green-; hearing– the sound of the sea and rain, the sweetest symphony-; smell– a growing up of amazing and intense scents; taste– fish, spices, fruit, wonderfully harmonious flavors on the palate; touch– white sand between your fingers…