My experience in Mauritius was interesting to say the least and it was all a big adventure from the very beginning. In typical Namibian fashion, I was late for the airport. I got there just as the plane was boarding. It wasn’t my fault, I was leaving home for 6 weeks and all the grownups stopped by to say goodbye and put in their orders of what they want from Mauritius.
I missed the connecting flight in Johannesburg going to Mauritius; again, it was not my fault. I got to OR Tambo airport on time but that airport is massive and I got lost. I was in contact with four other Exchange Participants (EPs) (Yvonne, Alan, Nader and Giovanni) who were on the same flight as me and they tried to find me. Long story short, I left on the next flight which was two hours later.
I got to Mauritius and waited for almost two hours to be picked up from the airport because I had missed the pickup due to missing my flight. MTC does not roam in Mauritius, I couldn’t make phone calls. THANK GOD for free airport wifi. I was on whatsapp with my father and he called Badulla, my EP buddy, who was not picking up his phone because he was driving the others to our new home. My parents were about to have me buy the next ticket back home if I was not picked up by a certain time. My imagination went wild; I thought that it was scam and I was about to be sold into sex slavery. I wasn’t.
When I arrived to the apartment building and introduced myself, all the outgoing EPs knew I was the one who missed my flight. I was already popular. I was the 5th person from my cycle to arrive. We got there at the beginning of arrival week and had nothing to do so we spent a week on the beach, swimming, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and going to various islands.
There were so many EPs from India. I basically learned Mauritian and Indian culture. I made so many friends, my next EP experience has to be in India. The way of life in Mauritius is actually expensive compared to Namibia. Imagine, the price of one uncooked piece of meat is N$ 76??? And the hunt for a decent piece of steak was on. This Namibian cried after a week and a half of no decent meat!!!! Jarita told me about a restaurant that had good steak and I made seven people run with me to the restaurant.
As for the work, I was part of the micro-financing project which had the responsibility of raising funds for women entrepreneurs and we in turn give them interest free loans. We had a pool of 18 women and we had to choose 3 to 5. This was going well until they decided they want to join up and have one business. So now we are basically funding them and the overall business is selling of food, socks, flip flops, clothes and plants. This has turned into a full on project. The next cycle of EPs would continue with the same group instead of getting new entrepreneurs.
We had a go karting event where we approached the go karting company and we negotiated with them to give us N$ 20 for each race. One race per person is about N$ 150. Our next event was a game night we hosted at a local bar where we got to keep all monies made from the games. We also had an all you can eat pizza night at a local restaurant where we got about N$ 50 for every person who paid the initial fee of N$ 160.
I extended my stay by an extra week because I was going to be one of the first people to leave and I wanted more time with my new friends.
Mauritius was fun and I got a new family. I don’t think I grew enough though, I was and still am financially irresponsible (there was talk of having to confiscate my credit card because I was always spending money). I recommend that everyone goes on whatever AIESEC exchange program because I saw growth in people who arrived immature and immediately grew up and were suddenly able to take care of themselves. The work and seeing other people struggle is eye opening and it made me more grateful for the life that I have.