Casela

We recently visited a place that will definitely become one of our regular spots.

From actual pond fishing, to majestic white lions and everything in between. And even though our day got rained on at the end, we had way more fun than we expected.

What an entrance to Casela

Located in the mountainous area around Cascavelle, Casela is a gem for any parent who wants to take their children out on a fun, educational outing that will make them so tired, they sleep through the night. (And you too)

Ahh, innocence, or lunch?

A few things to remember to pack. I suggest taking a backpack. You will need to be comfortable, this is a whole day outing. Don’t go Gucci.

  • Camera – Fully charged and enough memory. You will be taking A LOT of photos
  • Battery packs – if you have
  • Mosquito repellent. Apply frequently
  • Sunscreen. Apply frequently
  • Extra sets of clothes for the kids. The chances are good they will get dirty. Don’t stop them from having fun.
  • Tissues / wipes. With all the plants around, some people might get a bit sneezy.
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Wallet (for the extra activities in the park and gift shop)
  • If you have babies, this is a normal add, but remember those nappies and nappy disposable bags.
  • If you have a stroller you can take it along, just remember you will be getting on the Passenger trucks, and it might get bulky. COMFORT IS KEY.
Some friendly birdies waiting for you to drop them some crumbs

I recommend you arrive early the morning. Now if your family is anything like ours, this means you basically need to get up at around 6am. This gives you about an hour for each child to get ready and 10 minutes for yourself. Arrive at around 9, when they open, have breakfast at the kiosk as you enter the venue. Leave the restaurant for later. Remember to flash your residency cards at the cashiers, or else you will pay tourist prices.

Activities and minimum height restrictions

As you walk in to the park with your kiosk food, there are some tables and chairs outside that overlook a big kids play area. Now word of advice here, have them sit down and eat first before they run off to go play, otherwise you won’t get them to eat a bite. Once they see the play ground, eating is pretty much already a lose-lose for you as a parent, but just a few bites will help them through. Please note that when you have finished your meal, there are recycle bins inside next to the kiosk. Please throw them away in the correct bins.

View from inside to the big Kids play area with some tables to enjoy your meal before you head out. Remember the sunscreen guys

Spend 5 minutes at the play area and then set out on your journey, otherwise it will take you two days. Passing through a leafy wall, almost walking straight into a gigantic tree and waterfall ponds filled with brightly coloured Koi fish, pass some bamboo covered in name carvings and confessions of love by visitors. Move on to rows and rows of cages filled with all kinds of exotic birds. You may even be luckily and spot a wandering female peacock ready to pose for some beauty close ups.

You will soon pass toilets, I suggest you use them, and then head down towards the restaurant. Breath in the views. You can see out over the mountains, straight down to the ocean, with the sounds of birds, a fresh breeze and you know, you are in paradise. Take it in, admire it and breath it out.

The restaurant and the view you get to enjoy while having your meal

Now make your way down to the Macaques and the Pygmy Hippo. (You are lucky if you see him, we didn’t) Shake some feathers with the beautiful swan before you head down to the Petting Farm.

Filled with rabbits, goats, guinea pigs, roosters, horses, turkeys and real Tilapia fishing. You are sure to make quite a few friends in this area. Take your time here. Have your kids go fishing. Catch and release. Play with the furry bunnies. Do watch out for the male Goat. He is very territorial and you may find him giving you a firm nudge back the way you came from. From here you travel down to the giant tortoises.

What a site. I have never seen them as big as I have here. Gracefully grazing away. How this place still has grass left, I have absolutely no idea. They are way bigger than my two kids. My youngest slowly and carefully moved towards one, and as he tried to touch it, It made a sound that sounded very much like him saying ‘Uh hu!’ My phrase, for ‘Don’t even think about it Mr.’

It started to drip and we moved swiftly along to the next destination. The Tulawaka ride. We unfortunately couldn’t go in it, because my youngest was under 4 years. Yes, this ride is for 4 years and up. And my husband, didn’t want to go on it with the eldest. We don’t want to cause unnecessary sibling rivalry. So moving along swiftly, in the now somewhat heavy rain, to the Big cats.

We were getting closer to the lions and the end of the outing, due to the rain getting heavier. One of the Park Passenger trucks came driving by, covered in zebra stripes. These are the trucks that take you through the last end of the park. From the Lions, to the Giraffes, Quad safari and Safari bus tour. But we missed all that due to the heavy rains that came down once we arrived at the white lions.

There are so many activities that we missed out on, that we have to go again. We missed

Mountain Activities

  • Zipline
  • Canyon Swing
  • Nepalese bridge

BIG CATS

  • Big Cats Viewing
  • Big Cats Interactions
  • Drive-Thru
  • Walk with Lions
  • Safari Bus Tour
  • Quad Safari
  • Giraffe Viewing
  • Giraffe Feeding
  • Camel Ride
  • Rhinos Interactions
  • SegWay Safari
  • 4D Cinema at the entrance

For Prices, Packages, Facilities and more, please visit their website http://www.caselapark.com/

The map – http://www.caselapark.com/the-map/

I would recommend Casela to all who have children as a wonderful family outing. From tourists to locals, this Park is a definate gem for the island of Mauritius.

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Expat Child Syndrome

Yes, that term exists. And so does the effects.  When a child’s entire familiar surroundings get uprooted and shifted around so drastically that they lose their coping mechanisms.

Long ago I heard psychologists saying, that for a toddler, a move can be as traumatising as a divorce or death in the family.

We have moved once a year, basically every year, since our daughter was born. And every time she welcomed her new home with open arms. Seeing it as a brand new adventure. A new place to explore every nook and cranny of the yard, home and her room. This time though, things were a lot different. Instead of moving to a new town or different province, we moved to a new country. And as exciting as it was and still is, we are seeing some of the consequences now.

It has been a testing 8 months for them, and I can imagine how confused they are. First their father went working abroad for about 3 months, then we visited and left again. Only to return a month later, leaving all our family and friends behind.

We came to Mauritius for the first time in October 2018. By then my husband was already on the Island for about 2 to 3 months. This meant I was home alone in South Africa with the two kids for a very long time. And mothers would now how kids take advantage of a situation like that. So not only was I relieved to have them with their Father, but I was looking for some me time as a 24/7 mother.

We went back to South Africa after our 3 week visit to go pack up our entire house and make the move abroad. The kids told everyone we are moving to the Moana Island. To get, and keep, them excited about this major move. Again it was only the kids and I. So again, some manners were lost along the way. There is just no way a mother’s voice is as serious as a father’s. (In situations where the children are used to having their father around all the time)

When we finally made the move on December 15 2018, we stayed in the company’s house while we looked around for our house. Economical and all that jazz… The kids shared a room and bed. So neither had a space they could call their own. Neither could play in private without the other constantly being in their area. Fights erupted constantly. And I was getting tired of trying to pull the two apart.

I was very strict about where they could play and out of what plates they could eat. It was an expensive house, with expensive things inside. I didn’t want anything broken or out of place when the owner arrived. Now that already takes A LOT out of them. ‘Don’t touch that. Don’t go there. Don’t do that. Climb down from there.’ Coming from a house where they could touch what they want, when they want. Because I knew where everything was.

Now add some of the following, Their whole environment changed and was uprooted. A whole new set of rules. A different language. A different climate. A different time zone. Different foods. With none of their toys, family or friends to comfort them. Only a Mother and Father who constantly tries to tell them how the new things work. New rules. New routines.

Where would a child find comfort? From the few toys they could bring along on the plane with them? No. Plain and simple, No.

My daughter was fine with the move up until the moment we recently moved into our new home. She now has her own room. Like in South Africa. And I think that is when my little 4 year beautiful soul realised that basically all her toys are still in storage.

The trigger moment. Those empty shelves in her room. Compared to her full room back home. But she is supposed to call this room hers. How can it be? None of her stuff is there.

That is when she realised how far away her grandparents are. That is when she realised she won’t see her friends again. That is when reality kicked in and my 4 year old daughter became a nervous wreck. Skipping afternoon naps. Demanding her way. Throwing things. Spitting. Sticking out her tongue, continue this paragraph with bad behavior…

To the point where she started wetting her pants. I was, and still am, shocked about this. She would sit and watch a movie and wet her pants and burst out in tears, because she has no idea how she could do something like that. If you look at her wrong she walks away and cries. Or if you ignore her for a little to long while making her lunch, she throws a tantrum that I have never seen her do.

I have tried every method possible to counter act the behavior and I am now at only love, hugs and cuddles. Motivating her. Telling her that if we go visit SA we will go get some of her toys from the storage unit. She mustn’t be sad.

She and I have had long conversations, trying to figure out what is going on. And I think tonight she gave me a clue. She misses her environment. Her ‘familiar’. She had a nice long conversation with her grandparents and bragged about her beautiful new home. She showed off her new hair cut and took them on a Whatsapp video tour of the house. She smiled and laughed and enjoyed every moment of it. And I was so happy to see her so happy and excited. Not that she isn’t happy, but I saw her spark.

After that call I could see a major difference in her attitude. And even though we do video calls with family, we clearly don’t do it enough.

I was so ashamed to write about this. Because for the first time as a mother, I had absolutely NO CLUE how to handle and take control of the situation. I still don’t. But I am taking it day by day and I will hold her hand along the way.

I spoke to a friend the other day, and it turns out her daughter had the same reactions to a major move they had. I was relieved to hear that it wasn’t an anomaly, only targeting my daughter, but in fact an actual thing. And it can take months to fix.

Reading up a bit on ECS it seems to be most commonly found between children aged 10-15 years. Moving to countries very dissimilar to their own. Different school environment. Different language. Taking them out of their social circles, etc.

And even though my daughter is 4 she is wise beyond her years, and she can only speak her home language with us. When she goes out to play, or meets a friend in a store, no one understands her. So she has to revert to english, which isn’t a problem for her, but it isn’t her ‘familiar’. There is no set list of symptoms to look out for regarding ECS. It manifest itself in all different ways.

It can be very easy to dismiss this as them ‘acting up’ because they didn’t want to move abroad in the first place, but it’s important to give your child support during this period. If you have relocated with your partner, you will have each other to lean on during times of stress. A very important note. You as parents need to be supportive and need feed off the negative energy. But your child often has to cope with all the challenges on their own and it can be even more difficult for them to channel their feelings or even understand why they are feeling this way.

And just as she is trying her best to fit in, and making friends, I am losing my way in trying to help and guide her. I am not getting out of the house. Am not focusing on my needs. I am exhausted. I get moody easily. And I am almost always frustrated. My family needs me. They need their mother to be in tip top shape. And I am so worried about my children that I lose focus on how to take care of myself. Making them pick up on my anxious vibes and starting the whole circle again.

I am sure by now you realised this only affected my daughter. My son is very much the same old naughty James. No real change there.

If you are planning on moving abroad, I am not saying this will happen to you, but know the warning signs. Know when it isn’t a normal tantrum, but a deep cry for help and affection. It is basically only time that can fix this. Help them settle in. Give new routines. Do fun things. Show them the good stuff the new location has to offer.

but go look up ‘Expat Child Syndrome’ and see what experts say. I am just talking out of my personal experience here. Take care of them. They need us to understand, help and guide them.

Getting your dependent permit

What you need to know

There are only a few things that can rattle your cage as much as moving to a different country, and that is pooping in a cup.

If you are planning on moving to Mauritius as a dependent here is what you need to know.

  • You are not authorized to engage in any employment without a valid work permit.
  • It is only valid for 3 years. You do have an option to renew for another 3 years.
  • Some other admin stuff you will see printed large once you receive your docs.
  • You will be pooping in a cup. That wasn’t a joke.

There has been a lot of posts and discussions about Mauritius and all the different permits. I am not in a position to explain all of them. A dependent permit is NOT a residency permit. There are a few different options and a few ways to obtain them and all with different rules. It all depends on why you are coming to Mauritius, investing, buying property, opening a business, etc. All this will have a different outcome to suite your needs and reasons. If you want information about that, please read here.

This post is purely how to obtain your dependent permits on the back of an Occupation Permit, already issued. In this case, to my husband.

So if you are the spouse of a person who is already in possession of an Occupation Permit, then here is what you will need and do to obtain your resident permits;

  • Original unabridged Marriage certificate and certified copy.
  • Original unabridged birth certificates for the whole family and certified copies. This is an important note. You, yourself and spouse also need to get an unabridged birth certificate. This is a lengthy process that needs to be done asap. You fill in papers at DHA that makes it look like you were born yesterday. Also note that for children born after 14 March 2013, they automatically received an unabridged birth certificate, so no need to apply for one for them.
  • Original Passports and certified copies of all, including your spouse.
  • 2 Colour ID photos of all dependents plus spouse.
  • Completed Medical reports. These include; Stool sample, urine sample, 2 blood samples, chest X-ray and a Dr consultation. All these costs are over and above the dependent permit applications. We did our medicals at La Croisette Fortis Clinique Darné. Our children are under 12 so they didn’t need to have all those tests. The Dr just requested their vaccination cards and asked if they are healthy. I am not sure what would have happened if I didn’t vaccinate my children, but the docs were requested, and luckily I had them.
  • Spous’ Orignal and certified copy of the Occupational Permit.
  • Completed application to enter Mauritius.
  • A bank certified cheque. Rs5 000 per dependent. Our total was Rs15 000
  • Proof of Address

It is a lot to take with, and I can’t really recall if all this is correct. Please call the Passport and Immigration office if you are unsure and would like to double check Tel: 210 9312. or have a look on the website.

Once you have submitted your docs, go sit down and drink a glass of wine. You deserve it. The process takes about two weeks to complete. So make sure you do all this before your tourist time period, or the return time in your passport expires.

And if you meet a fellow expat in town, you can smile knowing what they had to do to be here too. Salute EXPATS!

I am a South African, living in Mauritius. I won’t forget where I come from. But I don’t regret where I am.

I have been told I make our life look like something it isn’t. I have been told not everyone is in our fortunate position. I am at a point in my life where I am to scared to post anything positive about Mauritius, and I can’t share in jokes or even positive things about South Africa, because I have no right, as I don’t live there any more.

As I am typing this, I am considering my words carefully. Which word would offend? Which word might make that person unfriend me on Facebook? Which sentence might make that person realise I am referring to him/her? Because I have a heart, and some ‘friends’ recently somewhat cracked it. It has come to my attention that for some people, it is easier to hate and be jealous, than happy and understanding. It is easier to make the person that left the country look like the horrible deserter. It is easier to point a finger at that person and say he/she never talks to us anymore. When in reality, you need a reality check.

These people have made me place doubt in our decision, they have made me feel guilty for moving and building a better future for our family, they, these people, have made me put question marks on their loyalty towards the words ‘friendship’ and ‘family’. These are most likely also the people who will call you up, come December holidays, for a Free Island Pass.

I am sure most of you saw this post coming for a long time now. And it wasn’t until recently that something snapped and made me realise, ‘You know what, stop feeling bad, apologizing and making excuses for other peoples rotten jealousy apples’. Stop considering your words carefully. Just stop. You didn’t ‘Run away in the heat of battle’. You saved your family from a country that was failing them. Be honest about it with yourself.

We didn’t move to rub anything in anyone’s faces. We didn’t leave because we didn’t want to see our relatives anymore. We didn’t one day decide, ‘Hey, you want to go live on an island so that everyone can hate us for it?’ packed up our bags, put our whole lives in storage and left our family. No. This was months of planning, tears, emotions, investing time and effort and careful consideration. See image below ‘If you lived in Mauritius and not in South Africa you would:’ and then tell me I am a horrible person for our decision.

If you lived in Mauritius instead of South Africa you would:
Source: https://www.mylifeelsewhere.com/compare/south-africa/mauritius

I am in country limbo. I am torn between two countries and to scared to do anything on social media. I love South Africa deeply. It is our home country, we always will love it. We still watch the rugby. We still vote. But there comes a time when you need to let go of things might not be good for you.

I was reassured by my amazing husband that where we are, is because we worked hard for it (more him, than me). Yes some people might not be in a position to emigrate, but sending out your CV is Free. Don’t come up for a country that is failing his people and corrupt. Where small business suffer and education is expensive but worth nothing. Don’t tell me I am rubbing our situation in your face.

My close friends have stayed in contact. Basically exactly how it was when we lived in the same country. I know who they are. They know who they are. I think at the age of 30 I can totally stop worrying about what you think. I have done enough worrying. The people who are by my side are the ones I’ll keep. I’ll be posting about my life again.

I am a South African, living in Mauritius. I won’t forget where I come from. But I don’t regret where I am.

Sea Themed Giant Letter DIY

Every girl loves making her room something special, magical. I especially loved using the first letter of my name to identify my things. ‘A’, is now also the first letter of my daughter’s name and we decided to make her something special. She used it for her Birthday Party first and then propped it up in her room as a beautiful sea themed decoration next to her night light.

Please join me as we make and craft your giant Sea Letter.

A for Alayla

Things you will need:

  • Strong cardboard
  • Store bought sand
  • Sea Shells
  • Art and craft rope
  • Glitter
  • Small piece of fishing net
  • Any other small nautical items you want to add
  • Glue gun
  • Craft glue (White glue)
  • Glue brush
  • Big tray to pour the sand in and mess over
if you have some shells, add a small piece of glue and a faux pearl on the inside

How to:

  • Cut out the desired letter on you piece of cardboard (A3 is best, but it is up to you to decide the desired ‘Giant’ size)
  • Pour the sand into the tray
  • Cover the entire letter with the craft glue using the glue brush. Make sure you don’t miss any parts of the letter
  • Dip the letter in the tray of sand so the sand covers the entire glued area. Lift it out and see if the sand has covered the whole letter.
  • If there are spots where there is no sand, paint some more glue there and dip in the sand again. Repeat until the entire letter is evenly covered in sand
  • Leave to completely dry. I recommend leaving it overnight. If you start sticking other things to the wet sand it will just fall off
  • Once the sand is dry, measure the outside edges of the letter with the craft rope and cut the correct length
  • Glue the rope to the letter with the glue gun
  • If your letter, like the ‘A’ has inside edges too, glue some rope there too. Like ‘O’, ‘D’, ‘Q’, ‘P’, etc
  • I used a small piece of fishing net to put in the inside of the ‘A’. You can do the same with your letter, or hang a piece of net down the side,
  • Once your letter has the rope on, you can start spacing your shells around to see where they would look best before gluing them together
Placing shells and rope coils around the letter
  • Okay so now that you are happy with where the shells are going, you can glue them on
  • Note, in the above image, I also added some little rope coils here and there, and a small piece of soft tule. The things you can add on here are totally up to you, whatever you feel like. Maybe some seaweed, coral?
  • Then, once everything is glued on, nice and secure, take your glue brush (That you hopefully washed after you used it yesterday) and paint a few areas lightly with some craft glue. Don’t drop a giant ball of glue in a spot. Thin layer, evenly spread out
  • Sprinkle your glitter lightly over these areas. Go outside and gently blow the remaining glitter off. You will see some glitter stick to shells, other parts of the letter, and that is fine
  • Leave to dry for a couple of hours

Congratulations on completing your first Giant Sea Themed letter. I loved helping you. Please have look at some of my other DIY blogs

4 Lives. 6 Suitcases. How I fit it all in.

The heading sounds like a boardgame. And to be honest, there were times when I thought this whole thing is a major board game and I was losing… my mind.

When someone tells you ‘We are moving to an island and you can only bring along what you can fit in your allowed airplane luggage.’ What would your reaction be?

Of course there was a time when I was so excited I could ‘up and leave’ right then and there and not even bring extra clothes. But then things get a bit more serious. A bit more real. A bit more sentimental.

Your favourite cup is suddenly worth way more than you initially thought, even with that crack. That book that you already finished twice, seems like a good airplane read, again. That first drawing your daughter made at Spur is better than a work by Picasso and that old brown 5kg door stop from your great gran might be a good thing to have for when the wind blows on the island.

Have you ever had to pack your whole life away in boxes, not knowing when, or if you will see it again? Woman are sentimental. Don’t tell me you aren’t. And once you start packing away your favourite things, your whole life makes a complete 360. 

Here is what I did and how I let go.

So we were 3 people leaving from Cape Town International en route to Sir Seewoosugar Ramgoolam International Airport. My husband was already in Mauritius. Each of us were allowed 2 bags weighing 23kg each. So we had 6 bags plus 1 carry on each. 9 bags in total. 1 Mother. 2 Children. Ample amounts of chaos.

We knew we had just over a month for me to pack up my entire house and I was going to do it Mom alone. So I had to get on it ASAP. Play in the day. Pack at night. 

First I had my 6 pieces of luggage all laid out. Then I had my boxes open in the first room scheduled for eternal boxdom, the ‘office’. As I packed away all our paperwork and files from Pre-kids times I realized I need to get a pocketfile with some important docs ready for our travel. You don’t want to pack and seal your passports.

Here is probably the most important list.

  1. Valid passports.
  2. Marriage contract. (The marriage certificate was already in Mauritius with my husband)
  3. Children vaccination cards. (The Dr asks for this when you do your medical to get their dependent permits. I don’t know what will happen if you don’t vaccinate your children.)
  4. Jewelry certificates.
  5. Children’s previous school reports. ( I asked the school to write a letter as well that states the time Alayla was in school and in what class she was so we can hand it in at her new school along with her school report)
  6. All the birth certificates, including my own.
  7. A letter my husband wrote allowing me to travel with the kids. (Rules regarding international travel with children have changed recently. Just double check. you don’t need to do a lot of paperwork anymore. A simple letter should suffice. But just double check)
  8. Copy of my husband’s BOI.
  9. Information of the adr we will be staying in in Mauritius.
  10. Return flight details. (Even though we will get our dependent permits for Mauritius once in Mauritius, South Africa won’t allow you to leave the country on a one way ticket, and Mauritius wont let you in)
  11. My laptop and external.

When packing away make sure you have unlimited amounts of mothballs and Tape. Also have a book ready and a pen. You are going to store these boxes for years and even 4 days later you would have forgotten what is in box Nr.X. So number the box, write down the box number in your book and specify what is in the box. This book is travelling with you to Mauritius and you need to safely guard it.

When I started packing up the kids rooms, I saw how many pieces of clothing were in their cupboards that didn’t fit anymore. Most I donated to people in need. The toys were a problem. I had to do that when the kids were asleep. Although Alayla was very happy to give almost all her toys to the less fortunate, James was less interested in the idea. So I left their absolute favourites aside and packed the somewhat favourites in boxes. The ones they could totally do without I gave to charity. I also gave boxes full to the garbage collectors. They were so excited.

James and Alayla both have their favourite stuffed animals. James’ favourite one is bigger than he is, so I used the Tevo Vac-Bag to sort that out quickly. Note, 1 Giant Teddy plus 1 giant unicorn plus some clothes fill up 1 Tevo bag. That 1 Tevo bag, when vacuumed, fills 1/3 of a large suitcase.  Tip, get lots of Tevo Vac-bags

I left 1 warm jacket per child and 2 pairs of long pants, they flew with these. The rest of the warm clothes are all in storage. Kids clothing isn’t that expensive here. Don’t waste space with warm clothes. Same with me. I have 1 pair of jeans here and one jacket. And that is the clothes I flew with out of Cape Town at 22:00 to also save some space and weight. This is one time I thought of weight every single day.

I packed in the X-Box and some games. You can connect it to the internet and watch your movies. Netflix is great to have. Wifi on the island is really not expensive at all and we are online a lot that doesn’t even ‘buffer’ like in SA. There are certain spots on the island where signal is really really REALLY bad, but the areas that have signal are way more than those that don’t. This was a heavy load.

I also packed up the Howell family bible. It dates back generations and is something we totally didn’t want to put in storage. That was a good 5+kg.

I used a Camp Cover Bundu Bag to put away all my jewelry. Have a look at their bags, they have so many to chose from. And they all help with space saving, not that anything can make jewelry lighter. I only brought almost all my jewelry with because I didn’t really want valuables in storage. No matter how secure they say it is.

I packed in my favourite cup, my husband’s favourite cup. The kids plastic plastic plates and glasses. The house that we will rent will be fully furnished with someone elses stuff. I just want a little something I can call my own, even if it is just a cup to have my morning coffee. The bedding won’t be mine. The plates, scatter cushions, carpets, none will be mine. So I think I am allowed my one cup.

I packed books. I packed about 10 books. And still haven’t touched any of them. Ironic I know. But they are here. 

I packed  a medicine bag. I packed in everything I thought might help reduce stress and worry. You are moving to an island, your body will have to adjust. That being said, make sure you get Imodium. You might have a day or two where your tummy might be a bit upside down. I packed in some Bio Strath. I haven’t found it on the island. Not sure if there is, but it gave us that initial boost after a month of stress and panic. I packed in Mozzy spray. Now I say I packed a medicine bag. Don’t think there are no pharmacies here. There are, and they have almost everything we have in SA. I really just didn’t want to land here and someone gets sick. You know Murphy’s law.

I brought along the camp cot. It didn’t go on as checked luggage, but went through as free luggage. I just had to pay R80 to wrap it, explain to the lady at check in, she wrote a note, weighed it, and sent me off to the drop off for free luggage. Remember if you are going to travel with a stroller, it is also free.

I packed in a small beach tent and yoga mat for those beach days. Best move! I packed in some towels. Towels are a bit expensive here, I found. I also packed in almost 1/2 a suitcase full of diapers for James. Looking back it wasn’t necessary, but I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on nappies once I land here and then he gets a rash or what not, but once we got here, we found Huggies and Pampers. Pampers is cheaper than Huggies here. And some amazing other brands not found in SA. So nappies don’t have to worry you.  On that note if you are formula feeding your baby, they have almost all the same formulas here as in SA, including the cereals.

I gave the kids each a backpack that fit comfortably and them pack in their airplane toys. James filled his bag with cars, go figure. And Alayla packed in her Barbie and some books.

I packed away the entire house with boxes to spare. I must admit half way through the entire exercise I came to terms with what is happening and realized that even though all my favourite things are going to be far far away from me, where we are going holds a better, safer and more secure future for us. It was this realization that made it easier to let go. And then I got more excited, and then we moved. And once we settled on the island I completely forgot how sad I was about packing away my slow cooker and my sewing machine and remembered how happy I am and how blessed we are to be able to have the opportunity to live in Mauritius.

And looking back at everything I packed in, I can tell you, the most important things I packed, are the ones I numbered at the top. The island has everything you need. You are not going to a third world country where nothing is available. You can find everything you need here. The problem is you need to get yourself to a point where you can let go. Just let go.

I put my things in storage to have views like this. I am not upset. I am blessed

Renting in Mauritius part 2

Welcome to a somewhat serious post with no pictures.

I am just going to start off this post by saying, house hunting is never easy. It wasn’t easy in South Africa and it isn’t easy here. We have dealt with this situation every year, for the past 4 years. So we sort of have a good idea of how these things work. But I feel I need to just mention some things here that bothered me, and some that made a good impression.

We are very lucky to be staying in the company house while we look for a place. It is beautiful, but every woman and mother knows that you want a little nest to call your own. And even though NOTHING in that house will be mine, at least I will be able to say this is our adrs. All our stuff is in storage in South Africa. (A blog for another day)

I was lucky enough to get in contact with an Estate agent while I was still in South Africa. She told me that once we are ready to look for houses she will help, and even though they don’t really deal with rentals, she let me know once she had one for us and even showed us the house almost after hours. Now this was a lucky strike. Really.

Now, before the above mentioned agent got the house available, we searched online. We used a local online search engine that combines all (or most of) the Estate Agents on the island. After about 4 days of searching, trying different criteria, we realized we have seen all the available houses. There were about 7 that we liked, ironically all from the same agent. So I made contact via Email and we both set a time and date for us to meet to go view the houses.

Come above mentioned time and date and said agent isn’t there. She conveniently forgot and left the explaining work to her colleagues. So we had to come up with a new pla; E-mail our criteria and the houses we like to the agency and they will revert back with viewing times. Now for those who know my husband know the situation they put themselves in by doing this wasn’t a good start to the relationship. I came home and sent them a list that clearly mentioned our nine criteria points. And even explained why we have those nine points, making sure they don’t send houses that are incorrect.

If you are going to rent on an island and pay a small fortune for the house, you at least want to live comfortably.

They came back, saying one was an old house, not modern. One had a small garden, and one was already rented out. Okay… So we set up viewing times for houses. An hour before we were supposed to go, they cancelled. Strike 2. But hey, we need a house so we kind of need these guys, and they know it. We give them another go. The day before the viewing of the other 2 houses we get a call that they have already been rented out. So when I asked when did this happen the reply was ‘Today, but the other was last week’

So I was wondering, why is this house still on your system? Why did you set up viewing times and then cancel? I just responded and said, ‘Basically everything you have is no longer available? Email me when something on your system is actually availably’ 3 Houses, poof, gone, in a day. Best to remove them from your system then. Some of those houses are still being advertised… go figure. Weeks later, they still haven’t emailed back.

So I lost it. I went online and emailed a good 6 different agencies. 1 Responded and showed us a house the following day. This was the first house that we actually viewed. After all the drama we finally saw one. And it was beautiful. But we didn’t want to base our decision on one. We wanted to see more to make sure we get the right one.

So then we went on the Expat forum and saw a few houses advertised there. The forum isn’t very user friendly in terms of redefining your search to match your needs, so you have to scroll through hundreds of listings. We saw 2 we liked. Emailed them and they came back within hours. The one agent had my number and she sent me quite a few listings that looked amazing and that we didn’t see online. She was super helpful and showed us two houses. These were the second and third houses we saw in our ‘almost 3 week long’ search. We also saw another house with cows and a wetland for neighbors.

I also got in touch with another agent but the communication skills didn’t really work well. Replying a week after making first contact and sending our criteria. But very very active when advertising. ‘Shake my head’

What I want to say here is that some agents, who value their business and customers, need to realise that communication is key. There is an influx of expats now and expats have a way of talking about their experiences. One bad experience and that is it. It is a small island. If you aren’t good on social media, then email, or phone. We sent all our details. There is absolutely no excuse, except maybe all these public holidays… I will never know

Other expats have other experiences with the Agents. I guess it is all about the day and personality. I totally understand we all have bad days. But bad weeks?

Fortunately or unfortunately this blog is either going to send expats your way up or not. And unfortunately there are no second chances. It will teach you to treat everyone like they might write an article about you when they walk out the door. I am not going to post names. My heart won’t be able to do that. But if someone makes contact (And a lot already have) and asks me who they should contact in terms of renting, I have the names. And I also have the names of who to avoid.

Criticize or Hate me. No care here. I will help fellow expats. We struggled so much until one agent came along. I don’t want others to go through this. Way to many sleepless nights and unneeded frustration.