Perceptions of Mauritius among people I know tend to swing between two extremes. Some mistake it for the Maldives, imagining $1,000 per night villas overlooking crystal waters. Others think it is an African backwater without proper electricity.
While there are chichi all-inclusive resorts in Mauritius, the vast majority of the country feels like any other coastal, middle-income place, with shades of Goa, Pondicherry and Sri Lanka. Long-term rentals for two-bedroom apartments range from about US$300-US$1,200 per month, depending on the area. A street side chicken biryani—or biryani de poulet—runs about US$3-4.
The Air Mauritius inflight safety video is your first sign that Mauritians are different.
I generally dislike these videos because I miss what they replaced—inflight crew members acting out routines, some with the clarity of synchronised swimmers, others the coordination of a blind macaque. This little fandango was always the best indication of the kind of inflight service to expect.
The Air Mauritius video implores you to watch. It opens with three crew members standing, rather incongruously, in full uniform on a gorgeous beach as the sun sets.
A later scene shows a husband and wife on deck chairs by another beach as their son builds castles in the sand. Suddenly, two yellow oxygen masks drop from the palm trees above, and they nonchalantly strap them over their unimpeachable holiday grins.
Another scene shows them inflating yellow life jackets, except they are not about to evacuate an airplane, but jump twenty feet over an idyllic Mauritian waterfall into its wading pool. The actors look like they are being paid to have fun.
Even the tutorial for adopting the emergency brace position before a crash has been turned into an eco-tourist fantasy, set by a gentle creek in the rainforest.
The message throughout is clear: even when the world around is collapsing, Mauritians can maintain their relaxed, carefree, smiling disposition. It is all in the mind.
By the end of the video, I’ve been introduced to several Mauritian attractions, but am still clueless about the plane’s emergency exits.