I’m writing this watching the Indian Ocean waves gently touch the beach in front of our rented beach villa in Mauritius. It’s really amazing how moving from the short, dark and cold days of Switzerland to the tropical sunshine of Mauritius makes miracles to one’s feelings in just a few days. We obviously need sunlight.
Something that I have learned of Mauritians so far is that they seem to have no sense of time whatsoever. Perhaps it’s the paradise-like environment where they roam day in and day out, around the year. Or perhaps there’s something in the water here. The locals told me they drink the local tap water, but I should not.
If a taxi drive in Mauritius tells you the drive will take 20 minutes, it’ll probably take an hour. If he tells we’re almost there, just five more minutes, be prepared to wait for at least another 20. And if you agree to meet someone at 5PM, they will arrive at 6PM or later.
In fact, being just about one hour late is so common here that I started to question if I really have the wrong time. It would be odd, since the iPhone gets the time from the mobile network, Mac gets the time from Apple servers and Google surely has some great place where they get the correct time from.
Still, I had to ask. Our maid told us she’d arrive 9AM, and sure enough it was just about 10AM when she showed up. I didn’t want to seem rude so I waited for another hour and then casually asked what time it is. She checked her watch – eleven! So, they do know the time but they just systematically arrive one hour late.
I would call it a coincidence, but we’ve been here for almost a week now and not once has anyone been on time. Even the room service at the hotel we first stayed at came after 1.5 hours of wait. Half an hour was the estimate.
The upside of all this is that the locals don’t seem to mind waiting, either. When we go shopping, the taxi driver is happy to wait outside, even if it takes several hours. I am guessing since it’s not the tourist season, they have no customers to drive anyway. Generally, there is no extra charge for the wait time as it is always cheaper to take a round trip than a separate taxi both ways. Obviously this goes well with the relaxed island lifestyle.
The most special taxi driver has been a guy who drives with license plate number one. His grandfather had the first car on the island and got the license number 1, which in turn was transferred to his dad and then to him. When the time comes, he will transfer it to his son!
When in Rome, and so on. From now on please excuse me if I appear a little sloppy with timing, I’m just trying to get accustomed to living in paradise!