Potpourri of Cultures

Mauritius stands for an unprecedented coexistence of different religions and cultures, but why does something work that does not work anywhere else?

In Mauritius, a multi-ethnic culture is lived that can hardly be found anywhere else. Like a classic potpourri, in Mauritius, due to its history, many ingredients have been mixed together and now emanate a charming, fascinating flair when visiting the island.

Mauritius was an uninhabited island. On the volcanic island, the only mammals that succeeded in settling were the fruit bats from the African mainland. In addition, an endemic avifauna unfolded, as the representatives of the flightless Dronte also lovingly called Dodos and of course there were also these huge, fascinating tortoise

In 975 AD, an Arab from the Persian Gulf discovered the archipelago of the Mascarene Islands which includes Mauritius, Reunion and Rodriguez. And since this occasion, the islands can be found on Arabian nautical charts.

When Henry the Sailor ascended the Portuguese throne, he forced the small state of Portugal, with the help of enormous financial means, to ascend to colonial naval power. In 1507, the first Portuguese, Captain Domingo Fernandes Pereira, entered the island and gave it the name „Ilha do Cisne“. The namesake of the archipelago, Pedro Mascarenhas, even anchored 5 years later off the rugged coast of Reunion. The islands were annexed because of their uninhabited, very uncomplicated by Portugal. The Portuguese misjudged the strategic position of the archipelago completely but with their use as supply islands they forced them to wake up from their deep sleep and changed them together with all others that followed them, lasting with consequences for flora and fauna.

They hunted and consumed the local giant tortoise and the Dronte. The turtles were brought alive on the ships as fresh meat and thus made for a change from the boring standard food. They also exposed pigs and goats. The pigs were then out of stock more often to the eggs laid in soil nests.In the 16th century, the Netherlands and its rich, new merchant class began to want a piece of the profitable East India trade cake. Mauritius discovered the Dutch rather incidental, in order to avoid a storm, Vice Admiral Wybrant van Wawijck decided to dodge south off the trade routes. Since the island was uninhabited and undeveloped, it was named in honor of King Moritz of Nassau on its still valid name Mauritius and declared it the property of the Netherlands. The Dutch recognized in the dense, old tropical wood forest a precious commodity for the European market and so began the rampant destruction of the original lush flora and fauna.

An attempt to settle failed, because already 20 years after the attempt to settle the approximately 20 settled families and over 500 slaves from Madagascar, the African mainland and Java were transported away again. The inexperience against the adversities such as hurricanes was too big. A second even more ambitious attempt failed. After the dissatisfied settlers, who lacked variety and women‘s society, under constant threat against escaping slaves on revenge campaign, had to claim, the Dutch broke off all tents.

The very sad record of the „Dutch century“ in Mauritius are 30 eradicated bird species and the destruction of native forests. Introduced rats had completely eliminated the avifauna. If you ask locals today about the national bird Dodo is assured that the Dutch have exterminated him.

They did not just take, they also gave the island a foundation for their future economy. They imported sugar cane from Indonesia and this plant turned out to be a blessing because it was flexible enough to withstand the violent tropical storms.

Of course, the French would not take long to wait for. The rash for a settlement attempt gave 12 sickly and partially malnourished resident mutineers, who were on the island of Bourbon, as Reunion was then called, were exposed and 3 years later raved expectant healthy and lively from their exile. Piracy experienced its heyday in the Indian Ocean, which brought heavy losses to all trading powers at sea. As early as 1685, the buccaneers proclaimed their „Republic of Libertalia“. With their brutal lightning attacks, they were the horrors of all sailors and trading companies. France waited and watched the retreat of the Dutch from Mauritius with satisfaction.

The „Chasseur“ moored in place of today‘s capital Port Louis and in 1715 there was again one of the many renames, because like others, France wanted to mark their newly annexed property. The „Ile de France“ was handed over by King Louis XIV to the French East India Company and this was thanked by the fact that the capital Port Louis was baptized. A settlement was difficult, because the coffee which flourished on Reunion did not really thrive in Mauritius. Maligned slaves from Madagascar, impoverished European settlers, rude mercenaries and numerous soldiers now formed the basis from which the potpourri Mauritius was created, the actual source of the present population.

Even today honored as a national hero and founder of the colony, the governor Bertrand François Mahé de La Bourdonnais sent to Port Louis to make a model colony and this should succeed him. Because of him the whole island is developed, in Port Louis he has built an orderly small town with right-angled streets and numerous colonial buildings and he built a safe harbour. In his reign, the first two sugar refineries were opended. He established law and order, in which he established a functioning administration and jurisdiction, he caught the marauding slaves again and he ensured the supply of the population even with the Mauritius typical weather capers.

Another for Mauritius‘ eminent Frenchman was Pierre Poivre. He was a passionate botanist and visionary. He secretly bought spice seeds and planted them, with the help of which France was finally able to break the Dutch world monopoly on the spice trade. Pierre Poivre has made himself immortal with the creation of the Botanical Garden in Pamplemousse. A beautifully landscaped garden where you feel transported into a special, green world. It was a prosperous, quiet time. There was an influx of new immigrants. By 1787, the island‘s population grew to nearly 40,000, of which 90% were slaves and serfs.

Chez Nizam fruits and vegetables

You can buy delicious fruits in Prereybere directly on the Royal Road. The charismatic owner Nizam also likes to give you a little discount on his delicious fruits, and that‘s the way to become a regular.