My last shopping expedition into Flic en Flac, in Mauritius, was very disappointing. It was mostly my fault. A cab driver told me he knew of nice shops where I could buy some souvenirs and gullible soul that I am, I got into the car and drove off with him.
I only realized I was not getting what I asked for when he stopped outside a boutique, where some really nice sales assistants tried to sell me designer clothes including DKNY and Guess labels. “I’m very sorry to waste your time, but I’m looking for locally made clothing,” I said.
The salesperson explained the clothes were made in Mauritius. So I had to launch into a detailed explanation that I wanted local crafts, not fancy designer stuff. "Your clothes are beautiful, but they're not what I'm looking for," I said.
Back in the car I explained to the cab driver ( again) that I was looking for a local craft market, not a boutique. Two stops later, I realized he was not listening to me. It also occurred to me that he would likely earn commission from my purchases in the stores he was taking me to, and was unlikely to take me to shops he had no links with.
“We go to Billabong now?’ he asked.
“No, I get out of the car now,” I said firmly.
To be fair, the man is probably used to wealthy tourists who do buy designer clothing when visiting his country. I can’t afford them, and when I do travel, I prefer to buy local crafts that have a real link to the people of that country.
After paying him for the ride, I explored parts of the village. I bought lunch from what in SA we’d call a tuck shop (small shop on someone’s residence). I also bought a large piece of cloth, a necklace and bracelet set made from shells, and a number of T-shirts from souvenir shops. But the first part of the shopping expedition left something sour in my mouth.
I “heart” Jo’burg!
We arrived back in psychotic Jo’burg late last night, and many of the people in my party said how happy they were to be coming home. Yes, they loved the island paradise, and the resorts where we stayed do brisk business as honeymoon/family destinations for a good reason.
But as fellow-journalist Xolile Bhengu from The Times put it: “I miss psychotic Jo’burg, with its fast pace and crazy drivers and endless talk about crime.”
I also missed Baby, my friends and colleagues and the feeling of being part of a busy world that I get from living here. I definitely missed being able to connect to the Internet whenever I wanted to chat to friends and family living across the globe.
Yes, we had access to a wireless network at La Pirogue and Sugar Beach resorts, but at €8.50 per hour or €36.50 for continuous 24-hour access, the cost was too exhorbitant for my blood.
So I connected when I had to, and ignored the withdrawal symptoms when I could. Being unable to stay in constant contact with the world sort of left me feeling isolated.