It’s a strange sensation, that first day in a new country. This feeling is one of bewildered childishness as you navigate your way along the unfamiliar streets with their unpronounceable names and strange heavy smells. A feeling of total exhaustion after the 13 hour flight that allows you to let the local langue wash over you in it warm, soothing rhythm.
This sleepwalking is often interrupted by brief moments of panic as you realise just how far away you are from everything you know. The sudden thought of what the hell am I going to do here presses into your mind and amplifies the repressed crying in your heart for those you left behind. The first few days are never easy in a new place, especially when you are lazy and didn’t bother to learn the local language convincing yourself you would pick it up when you got there along with water, bread and mosquito repellent. As daunting as coming to a new country on your own is I was in good hands upon arrival.
I am exceptionally lucky to have been asked to spend my time here living with friends who arrived a few months earlier and are already well adapted to island life. They have welcomed me with open arms, filled me with local delights over the past few days and, most importantly, introduced me to the phrase “welcome to Mauritus”. This is a phrase used about seventeen times a day to excuse or explain anything that happens: it’s raining whiles 30 degrees “welcome to Mauritus”, the islanders unique and strange sense of time – reminiscent of time keeping in the south of France ” welcome to Mauritius” and my favourite occasion for the phrase arises when the fridge is crammed with stolen fruit – deliciously perfumed orange and green mangoes swelling with juice, bananas fresh from the tree and beautiful bright pink delights – all scavenged by my friend on here way home.
So as I lie on the brilliant white sand gazing at the sea and watching the tiny finches dance about the beach all I think is “Welcome to Mauritius”.