Sunday, 4 October 2015

Day 4: Port Louis

Port-Louis is the capital of Mauritius and is situated on the north coast. It is the administrative, political and economic centre of the island. 

The city is separated in two parts. On one side you can find the "old city" and on the other side, the "Caudan Waterfront". That part is extremely touristic with many restaurants, shopping centres and duty-free outlets. There are also interesting artists exposing in the area and there is an artisan market where you can buy locally made creations.


Wood Sculpture

The city-centre can be accessed via an underground tunnel. On the other side, the atmosphere is completely different. The streets are busy, there are little markets everywhere and poverty is visible.

Street market

The indoor market (Bazar) is one of the main city-centre activities. You can buy pretty much anything, from food to clothes, spices,fabric and even souvenirs. I personally didn't enjoy the experience. Sellers are very pushy and made me feel uncomfortable. On top of that, I'm terrible at negotiating a  price, and even if it's a "question of principle", I just can't do it. There are other markets on the island much more enjoyable, and I will write about them in another post.

I didn't take any pictures inside the "Bazar", I was too busy trying to get out. One thing you have to know is that it is a bit of a tourist trap. If you're from the country, fine. You'll know your way around and how to get a bargain. If you're a tourist, let's just say there are chances you'll pay more for something that you would have got at a fairer price somewhere else. I know these people have to make a living, but I don't really appreciate the way they're doing it. Again, I've been to other markets on the island where you didn't feel pushed into buying anything.

Above, you can see the government buildings and Queen Victoria stature, reminiscent of the English colonization.

And here is Sir Seewosagur Ramgoolam, the "Father of the Nation". He was a leader in the Mauritian independence movement, modernized the country and improved the life of the Mauritian population by introducing free healthcare, free education and old age pension.

Port Louis is like any capital city. It's busy, crowded with people, cars, buses, and bikes. It's not really "relaxing" unless you stay on the Caudan side, but if you do that, you'll miss the "real" Port-Louis, the city that is the home or the workplace of many Mauritian.It has a wonderful architecture, a mix of all the cultures that represent the island. It won't be unusual to find a church next to an Hindu temple, and walk on the streets of "Chinatown" just after passing by a former French colonial house.

Port-Louis has a lot to offer, if only those indoor market sellers were nicer!!