Rand vs Mauritian Rupee

‘What is the cost in Mauritius, compared to South Africa?’

I often see this question come up in multiple expat groups. This ‘general question’ usually gets asked when people are considering moving abroad. Don’t get me wrong, it is a relevant question. We asked ourselves this same question before we decided to move. However, when we had to make the decision there was no ‘day-to-day’ comparison for me to look at. That is why I (finally) decided to put a little something together that may just give you a general idea of what it is like to live and spend, on the island.

It isn’t an all-encompassing price comparison between stores on the island. I didn’t list everything on offer from A to Z. This is just to show interested, future expats, what some everyday products cost. I will do schools, rentals, water and electricity in the next one. I need to do some more research on this and not use only my expenses.

Also, I would just like to mention, that when you search the Rand/Rupee exchange rate, you need mention Mauritian Rupee, as there are multiple Rupees out there.

Rupee is the common name for the currencies of India, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka, and former currencies of Afghanistan, Tibet, Burma, British East Africa, German East Africa, the Trucial States, and all Gulf Arab Countries (as the Gulf rupee).’ (Thank you Google)

The exchange rate as at 12 June 2019 between SA and Mauritius is R1 – Rs2,40

Mauritius has quite a big variety of shops, for everything from patio sets to toothpicks. Most of them remind me of Wallmart in a way. All are massive buildings, where you can find everything (or most of it) you need (and don’t need, but end up buying). I asked some of the expats where they do their shopping and what the reason is for that specific shop. Link to poll here

The most popular spot is SuperU, followed by Winners, then Intermart and fourth is London Way. There are other stores on the island as well, Store 2000, Jumbo and King Savers. All of which stock similar products, just at somewhat different prices.

The reasoning behind why people have a preference as to where they buy, was mostly due to convenience or proximity to either their home or work. Not necessarily due to the product cost. Another reason for shopping at certain stores was the products they offered. Some have a wider variety, while others stocked products not found anywhere else. Just this week, we South Africans were in a flurry over stores that stocked Mrs Balls Chutney (Rs118 for 450g).

*PLEASE NOTE THESE PRICES ARE TO BE USED AS GUIDELINES ONLY*

You may experience differences in prices from time to time.

Now I am sure some of you had a semi-heart attack when you looked at some of these prices. Just remember that Mauritius is an island. That means most of the products found on the shelves are all imported.

If you are considering renting a house, below is a short list of some household items and their average cost. I didn’t add things like a fridge, washing machine etc, as that was in the house that we rented.

Are you thinking of not cooking tonight? Want a quick familiar take out? Look at these prices.

Maybe you fancy a braai and some good (not frozen) SA meat? Have a look at these prices from The Famous Butcher

Look, I added gin, brandy and wine to the list, because some days, you really just need a drink on this island. You did after all just create a new normal for yourself. No judgment from my side

Also I would just like to mention this one other thing with regards to doing your shopping on the island. THE BAGS.

Each store has its own bag and design, but I would like to show you the ones from SuperU. They are made from 70% recycled material and have the most wonderful story and design on them. The cost of these bags vary from store to store but bargain on about Rs50 per bag

They are in French, so the wonderful Bea Chan from ‘Mademoiselle Nomad‘ did a translation for me. Please follow her on instagram and Facebook. She has quite an amazing profile. Thank you very much Bea.

A bag…
that carries/holds my groceries,
bails me out when my luggage is full,
becomes a chest of toys 🧸,
hides my ballet slippers,
comes with me to the beach,
and holds my bouquet of peonies.

A bag…
that carries my groceries,
helps me to quickly tidy up the living room,
that turns into a laundry basket/bag,
hides the children’s gifts,
accompanies me to the gym, and carries my new pair of takkies to school ☺️.

And I am not going to lie when I tell you that everything this bag says, is everything it is. We use these bags to go to the beach, to quickly clean the house, for the kids toys, to clean the car, literally for everything. Can’t find something? Go look in the SuperU bag.

I hope this post gave you some insight into cost on the island. Next up will be cars, housing, schools, medical, mobile operators, etc.

If you aren’t part of the epxat groups yet, please join the below mentioned groups for even more info.

South Africans Living in Mauritius

wwwdotgotodotmu – Investing in Mauritius

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The guilty little pleasures of an expat

So you are an expat.

You packed it up, stored it, shipped it or left it behind. However you did it, you are now on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. You are surrounded by new cultures, different languages and a melting pot of religious beliefs.

Along with the influx of new experiences, we are being spoilt for choice with regards to shopping on the island. With imports from across Asia, Europe and South Africa, we can find products we are familiar with, plus we are being offered some new, unknown products ready to be discovered.

However, that being said, once you are set in your ways, you are

set

in

your

ways.

It will take a lot of motivation to change your mind and make you move on from your ‘guilty little pleasures’ as they have now become known. Old habits indeed do die hard.

Take Prep for example. This is the only thing that my husband can use after he has shaved. Everything else gives him a rash. But will we pack everything up and move back to SA because of this? Heck no.

Over the past month I saw quite a few posts from people asking fellow expats to bring things back to Mauritius from South Africa, and it got me wondering, ‘What would I bring back?’

I created a poll to see what the most popular items were among South Africans. What is it that they would bring back to Mauritius if they ever go visit SA? Can you guess what was at the top of the list?

Biltong! The majority of the votes instantly went towards this South African delicatessen.

There was however a comment that concerned me some. It was from a lady who recently brought in vacuum sealed biltong she purchased at Pick ‘n Pay. Once they went through and were searched, the officer told them that they had to declare the biltong at the Agricultural Counter. The people at the counter had no problem with it. It seems the officer searching their bags just had an issue with it. So if you are planning on bringing in some biltong just be aware, you might be searched and asked to declare it.

The next votes clearly came from the ladies.

Second – Clothes and accessories

Third – Wine

Fourth – Cosmetics

With some of the cheapest bottles of wine costing around Rs270, I can see how someone would buy a bottle at duty-free just before they flew out of SA. But I would not pack it in my suitcase before the flight, that is just unwanted weight I could use for something else.

I am not a woman who wears a lot of make-up or a certain brand of make-up, so for me, I can’t really talk on this point. I buy my eyeliner and sunscreen at Intermart and that is where it ends. I have seen my mother’s morning routine though, and I can relate to ladies who have their certain brand preference. I have heard certain brand products are almost triple the amount here than they cost back home. This is most likely due to importing. So packing in some foundation on your way back might just be a great idea. Apart from this, most of the ladies mentioned they would just bring back the entire Dis-Chem.

Next came some snacks. NikNaks, Cheese Curls, Ouma Rusks, Caramel treat and Ghost Pops. Some mouth watering things mentioned there.

Of course, Richelieu made his appearance, he always does. But just like the wine, I would recommend getting a bottle at duty-free and not packing it in with your luggage. Also please just make sure of the limit of alcohol allowed into Mauritius. The following combinations are options as to amounts allowed.

Option 1. 1L of spirits and 2L of wine, ale or beer.

Option 2. 2L of spirits if no wine, ale or beer.

Option 3. 4L of wine, ale or beer of no spirits.

More info can be found here.

There were so many other products mentioned, but not a lot of votes came through for them. Mentadent P Toothpaste, Chutney and Borax to name a few.

To read the full poll and give your opinion, please go to this link

This was not intended to be a post degrading Mauritius and the availability of products. Nor was it meant to make expats look ungrateful for what we have on the island. It was purely to see what we as South Africans all enjoy and that we do miss certain things. But we are all still here and buying substitutes and testing new products.

Friend or Foe – Finding trust through the sifting process

Please read the below blog with as much respect as I wrote it, and that is tons. My heartstrings have been pulled and I am so sad that I had to go through the sifting process (as my one friend described it). But I am sure most of you have also been through this unexpected island test. But we survived, to find our tribe. Or we are still looking for our tribe. Whatever your journey is, it won’t come without hurdles and heartache, but it will leave you with a lot of knowledge. So here goes.

Hi. Welcome to Mauritius! I am so glad you are here. I hope you like it. Just remember this is my island.

That is the welcome speech that some ex-pats might give you. Greeting you with a smile, and instantly turning around with some already planned stories to tell the rest of ‘their’ island.

I am sure everyone who moved here was so excited, they could hardly contain themselves. Just like me, dreaming of days spent on the beach. Sipping on a mojito with a friend, learning new cultures, getting in tune with the slow island life. Just relaxing in general. It is an island after all.

It doesn’t take long before you bump into someone at your local Super Market. Fellow South Africans can hear and see each other 5 rows down. Our radars are tuned in to find our fellow countrymen. You speak Afrikaans, and you speak LOUD, just to make sure they hear you. The ‘do you understand me?’ test. Just like that you are exchanging numbers and organising your first braai.

But here comes the part that breaks my heart. The braai can either be a personality clash or a personality melting pot. Sure it is a small island. I know that. I came from a small town in the Free State. I know how these things work. The small community territorial gossip.

I did hope though, that it wouldn’t happen here. But even here I can see how one nation can’t stand together and build each other up with support and kindness. Why don’t you use your two years as an ex-pat advantage over my 6 months as a conversation starter? Show me the ropes, tell me how not to go shopping. Show me those secret beaches. I know that is what I would do if someone new came to me for help. Be a teacher, not a prosecutor. Luckily we can choose our friends. But this is the trial and error sifting part. And to much error can cause a person to just not try anymore.

Why do people from the same country as you have to be so jealous and hateful? Shouldn’t we all be grateful we are here?

We all went through almost the same process to get here.

We all pooped in the cup. Ha! I will never forget this fact.

It wasn’t cheap, for any of us. Sure some options are more expensive than others, but not one option is cheap. The villa vs the house. Both equally as expensive to the person buying it depending on their budget.

Trust becomes a treasured word. Once you find it you keep it. You eventually realise who you can trust and who’s paths you must rather avoid. This process can cause some emotional strain on you, but the results are worth it. Have some wine, relax at home. Your people will find you.

This is me, sifting through. Finding and losing, but gaining so much more knowledge. I hope everyone on their sifting journey find their tribe.

Rice Krispie Sand Castle

While I am no chef, I sure as heck think I am pretty good at making sweet treats.

A childhood favourite of mine has always been those crunchy, chewy, stringy, always-found-at-a-birthday-party, Rice Krispie treats. So it was obvious that I would make this for my daughter’s Mermaid themed party.

James munching on a Rice Krispie castle brick

Here is the recipe I always use for my kids.

You will need:

  • Four tablespoons of unsalted butter.
  • 6 Cups of Rice Krispies.
  • 1 Packet of Marshmallows. You should have about 40 Marshmallows. I always only use the white, so I buy more than 1 packet. This keeps the brown colour of the Rice Krispies better. The kids also don’t mind because they get all the pink ones.
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla essence.
  • 1 Baking tray lined with parchment paper. (DO NOT use wax paper. It is not heat-resistant and therefore should not be used in the oven, as the wax could melt, or even ignite).
  • 1 Base to build the castle on.
  • Icing sugar mixture to stick the first row of blocks to the base.

Method:

  • In a pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the teaspoon vanilla essence.
  • Add the marshmallows and stir.
  • Stir until all the marshmallows have melted.
  • Remove from the stove.
  • Add the six cups Rice Krispies and stir until everything is covered with the marshmallow mixture.
  • Pour mixture in the lined baking tray.
  • DO NOT press down hard. This results in very tough cookies. Instead, lightly press down the mixture. Making it about 2 cm thick. (Some say 5 cm thick, but I find this to thick for the sand castle bricks)
  • Place in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  • Once ready the Rice Krispies will be hard. Flip the pan over.
  • You can assist the mixture out by pulling on the parchment paper.
  • Once out, cut in about 3x3cm squares. (This is totally up to you, depending on how big you want them)

Once cut, you can place them in an airtight container. Place a sheet of wax paper in between each layer to keep them from sticking, then seal the top. You can store the container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze the treats for up to 6 weeks

Building a castle with the treats will require a lot of ‘blocks’, so repeat this process a couple of times to make sure you have enough. The best advice I can give is to build the castle the evening before the party. Remember that it has to be transported so even building the castle at the party venue can be an option, but you need to time manage well. I like having things done and ready to go well in advance. You never know when a gremlin jumps in the mix to throw you off, and you have to redo everything.

How to build:

  • Mix the icing sugar to a nice thick consistency. (Tip: buy already mixed, ready to use icing sugar.) This will be your ‘cement’.
  • Spread it evenly over the base where you will be building your castle on.
  • Start by placing the ‘foundation blocks’ on the icing sugar ‘cement’.
  • You can either put a layer of ‘cement’ between all the rows, use toothpicks or nothing and just build. It is up to you and what would suit you best. If you aren’t transporting the castle anywhere then you can just build layer on top of layer. Just remember that if using toothpicks to keep the castle up, you must warn the parents and children about them, so it isn’t an entirely safe option.

Decorate with small flags and some edible sand around the base. Edible sand recipe found here

The leftovers of the castle. It was stormed by all sides. No one survived

Hope you found the blog useful.

Look for the full DIY blog for the party coming soon

Bunny tail Bucket -Sensory Easter activity

Hands up, who is ready for the most egg-citing sensory Easter egg hunt ever? It is going to be egg-pick! I just had to do that.

Easter is coming up and I was asked by a fellow Super-mom (Fun Mamma SA) to come up with a sensory activity for Easter.  It took me some time and I had a couple of ideas, but none of them really stuck to the idea of Easter, Eggs, Bunnies, and of course the excitement of the hunt.

Edible Sand and chocolate egg surprise bowl

I wanted to incorporate the island in a way, and the first thing that came to mind when I thought about our life here on Mauritius was the beach, then recycling. Keeping our beach clean. I also didn’t want to spend to much money, so I kept it easy to make and cheap, using mostly what was already in my house.

This is what I came up with.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my kids did.

Bunny Tail Bucket Dash (Activity for ages 2 and up. For children under 2 years, continue down to the edible sand bowl and make that as a sensory activity)

What you will need:

  • A 30 cup egg tray
  • 5 Different paint colours
  • Black marker
  • 30 Cotton Balls
  • Paint brushes
  • Essential oil(s)
  • 2 Effervescent tablet holders. 1 Holder per child participating. (Like ACC 200)
  • 2 Different colour ribbons. 1 Colour per child participating. I used blue and pink for my son and daughter.
  • 1/4 Cup rice
  • Colourful wrapped chocolate eggs
  • Edible sand – Link to DIY found here
  • 30 Cut out bunnies (See pic below for bunny shapes I used)
  • Scissors
  • ‘Presstik’
  • Glass bowl
  • Easter egg buckets to put their chocolate eggs in (1 per child participating)

Method:

  • Paint each egg cup a different colour, making sure not to put two same colours next to each other. Let the paint dry.
  • Take the black marker and trace around the edges of each egg cup, making sure there is a clear line between each cup.
  • Take the 30 cotton balls. Dip them in some essential oil, lavender, lemon, or whatever you feel like.  Place 1 cotton ball in each cup. Paint the ball in the cup the same colour as the cup it is in. No need to paint the whole ball, just the top part.
  • Cut out the 30 Bunnies.
  • Once the paint on the cotton balls has dried you can stick one tail on each bunny using the Presstik.
  • Now take the effervescent tablet holders and the rice. Fill each holder a 1/4 way up and close it. Tie a different colour ribbon around each holder. These are your Rice Rain makers.
  • Next, make the edible sand and place it in a see through glass bowl. Add the Easter eggs in the bowl with the sand. making sure you have enough for all the children.

Getting started:

  • Stick bunnies up outside all over the yard.
  • Put the egg tray in one spot in the yard along with the Rainmakers.
  • Place the chocolate egg and sand bowl with the Easter egg buckets in another spot.

Let the hunt begin:

  • Explain to them it is like an Easter egg hunt, but they will be looking for bunny tails, sorting out colours, making rain sounds and then digging in edible sand to find their chocolate eggs. They then drop the chocolate egg in their buckets (Leaving the buckets next to the sand bowl) and go look for another bunny tail until there are no tails left on the bunnies and the tray is full.
  • Once they find a bunny tail, they take it off.
  • Have them smell it and ask them what they smell. Is it sweet or sour? Is it a familiar smell or something new?
  • Have them squish the tail and roll it between their hands. Ask them if it is hard or soft? Is it light or heavy?
  • Then have them go to the egg tray and place it in the same colour cup as what is painted on the tail.
  • If they put it in the correct cup, they shake the rain maker and run to the sand bowl to go dig for an Easter egg. 1 Egg for one tail correctly placed (Otherwise the activity will be over in seconds)
  • Once they are digging in the sand bowl, ask them about the sand texture, ask them if they want to try and taste the sand. (Please don’t make them think all sand is edible though. This is special Easter sand)
  • They then look for another bunny tail and repeat the above process.

Senses used in this activity: sight, smell, taste, feel, hearing

I hope everyone enjoyed this activity as much as my children did. If you have a child younger than 2 years, you can make a sensory bowl with the edible sand and add in toys.

The most egg-citing Easter activity

Imperfect -‘I’m perfect’

I read a blog the other day that was sent to me by my father. Just like him, I read it and saw myself in everything she wrote. It was written by a blogger who went quiet for a while, while she was trying to sort out ‘life’.

My Dad and I had a good chat about that topic, ‘life’, and work and my blogging. And I suddenly realised, I have my 10 year blogging anniversary coming up. Immediately I found myself thinking about what has happened over the past 10 years.

Did I grow?

Did I fail?

Did I completely miss the point?

I sit back in my chair. Thinking, arms folded, a slight smile sneaks on to the left corner of my mouth.

America you beauty. How was I ever so lucky to walk on your soil, swim in your ocean or breath in your air? Did I deserve to be so spoilt by you? To travel through your states? The two years you raised me to be an independent adult, while others were off studying? Did I deserve any of that?

The smile fades.

Did I deserve to return to my Grandfather, who went blind while I was away having an amazing time in another country, thousands of miles away?

The sadness comes creeping in, and so do my memories of my school days. Memories where girls made fun of me. Where class meetings were called because I was elected as a prefect in matric.

I mean – ‘How can she?! – Does she even deserve to be there? – The nerve of her!’

I remember getting caught up with the wrong friends, because of ‘Popularity’ and I remember being saved by the right friends.

I recall my end exam and the results – Did I deserve those distinctions in 3 subjects – the awards for highest in the grade in 5 subjects?

From here all the memories come rolling in, one after the other. Work, Johannesburg, broken down cars, smashed in windows, starting my own business, my wedding, my children, my family, Mauritius, Imperfect…

And stop.

‘Breathe, calm yourself down.’ Says that little voice in my head.

‘You have always been looking for the approval of the people around you. Always looking for another pat on the back. Striving for those bonus points. Doing more than is required of you. You have gone out of your way for people who have left you in stitches and ditches. You need to stop. This, you absolutely don’t deserve’

Now if you have read this piece up to this point, thank you for keeping up with the negativity, but you are probably also thinking – ‘This woman is a nutcase’. I probably am. But as I discovered, I am the best kind. You know, like Pistachios and Cashews.

All this thinking has made me realise that I DESERVE

every

single

thing

that has happened to me or been given to me.

I realised that I have been spelling Imperfect wrong for 30 odd years. Correction made to ‘I’m Perfect’

I have realised that constantly being copied is a sign that I am cleary doing it right, and this is a threat to insecure people. I have realised that being made fun of is a sign of being perfect in ways they can’t be, so they need to bring me down to their level. I have realised that looking for approval can cut deep wounds. Instead, do what you do. The right people will come across you and lift you up, not pat you on the back, acting as a friend but secretly bringing you down. I have realised I must let people think and believe what they want. The truth always comes out. I have realised that I need to know when to listen to advice and when to take advice. I have realised that staying quiet is the loudest you can speak. I have realised that fake people have an image to maintain, and that real people just don’t care.

But most importantly I realised that I didn’t abandon my passion, my writing, my half finished books or all those ‘somewhat’ finished paintings. I was paying attention to the more important things in my life, raising my children and being a family.

Now that I can blog again, I can go full steam. I can finish my books. I can continue with my studying. I can manage all my mother groups and I can share all my experiences. And I can do this with a grateful heart, knowing that everything that has happened to me in my life, good and bad, I deserve. I deserve all of it. It made me see things, feel things and realise things I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for those experiences.

From talking on radio shows to hosting fundraisers. I am NOT your average Stay At Home Mom. I am NOT just another woman leeching off her husband. I am NOT doing nothing. Sure I have still lots to learn. And I know where my mistakes are, but…

I have a purpose.

You, reading this blog, have a purpose.

Stay at home mom, feeling unloved and irrelevant to the world, you have a purpose.

Scholar, drowning under the immense pressure of coping with society,
you have a purpose .

Single parent, doing three jobs with no sleep to raise your child,
you have a purpose .

You, yes you, sending out your CV 50 times a day, with no reply,
you have a purpose .

You all have a purpose. And as cliche as this sounds, because I have been through all of the above, I can tell you to breath deep and hold on. The ride is bumpy, don’t fall off. But the destination is euphoric.

I have a saying, and some of you might know it or even use it.

Everything in life happens for a reason. While there may be unpleasant lessons that happen, the reason does come out. Maybe not today or tomorrow. Maybe not even next year. But the reason does come.

This I have seen time and time again.

Now say it with me:

I’m Perfect

Me with crazy hair, not caring what the people will say. ‘Is she actually a mother? Is she even fit to raise children?’
I think I am doing a darn good job thank you very much

2 ingredient Banana Crumpets

This isn’t a new thing, making dishes with only 2 ingredients. But it was going to be the first time I did it.

My family is starting to raise their eyebrows every time I go into the kitchen. They know what is about to happen.

Correct, another dish filled with bananas.

The bunch was getting over ripe so I had to cut, wash and freeze them. There are 135 frozen bananas in my freezer at this very moment. That one bunch carried about 200 bananas if you include the ones that I already used and the kids ate. And I still have 3 green bunches hanging outside.

Like I said in my previous blog, I have enough bananas to feed two small villages. But enough on that, let’s get baking!

What you will need to make about 10 crumpets

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs

Method

  • Mash the bananas
  • In a separate bowl whisk the eggs
  • Pour the eggs into the bowl with the bananas and mix well

You will notice the ‘batter’ isn’t like normal batter where flour is added. It almost looks like whisked eggs ready to be turned into scrambled eggs.

The banana and egg batter

Over medium heat, warm up a large non-stick frying pan.

Pour in some olive oil.

Add a small amount of batter into the pan to test the heat. If you flip it over and the side is golden and dark brown it is at the right temperature. Fry the other side for another minute or so.

When the pan is ready, you can pour in the batter, one or two crumpets at a time. I made mine the size of my palm. Depending on your heat, the one side will either be ready in 30 seconds or 1 minute. You need to adjust the heat the whole time to make sure you don’t burn the crumpets.

Batter making bubbles

Also on a very important note. Make sure the spatula you are using is very thin and sturdy. The batter is tricky. I used two spatulas. But you will soon come to realise this.

Once both sides are a nice golden brown, put it in a plate and place it in the oven to stay warm.

Repeat the above process until all the batter is finished and you have delicious banana crumpet towers. You can put a teaspoon of butter over them, or pour some syrup over them. Just remember it is already very sweet, so test a piece before you cover it in syrup.

Now the texture of these crumpets are hard to describe. They have a similar look to crumpets, with the golden brown and crunchy edges, but the centers are still very moist and has the texture of a mashed banana.

You can always add some extras to your batter:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate chips
  • Berries
  • Honey
  • Muesli

All you do is mix the extra ingredient(s) into the batter and follow the same process.

A special thank you to Patricia Smith for suggesting we try this.

For more creations with bananas, here is a link to my Caramel Banana Ice cream recipe

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