Bay of calm lifts the soul
Tomorrow everything will be better, Geraledine Giroumou, the beautiful Mauritian with the lilting French accent promises while taking me along a frangipani-lined walkway to my candlelit room.
By the time I wake up the next day the lounger outside my shuttered door will be warm and the tranquil sea will have turned turquoise in the morning rays.
The anxious look on my face, which elicits concern from the Lux Island Resort staff, is an expression Mauritians like Geraledine are unaccustomed to. It is the remnant of a last-minute deadline, a botched Gautrain journey and an airport argument.
Morning arrives and Geraledine is right - overnight the heat has lifted the weight of my life off my shoulders. I step outside to greet my first Mauritian sunrise.
My crunched and usually stilettoed feet are now free to feel tiny bits of shell caught between sole and flip-flop. A few paces and those toes are in the water. The day stretches ahead like an endless white beach full of deck chairs and brimming cocktails.
One of the options for the afternoon is a cycle around the southwestern tip of the island close to the Lux Le Morne resort, situated at the foot of a peak climbing 556m above sea level. The hotel provides bicycles and as I leave the gate on two wheels the mountain makes a date with me to walk its paths and climb one of its craggy faces.
Soon I'm in a small village. Runaway slaves settled in this area in the 18th and 19th centuries and played a major role in defining the culture. Now, the influence of football is felt as I ride past pitch after pitch.
There are some magnificent beaches to ride along. The winter sun, which warms the air to 27°C, colours the sky and sea with a palette of pastels.
Ile des Deux Cocos in Blue Bay, on the southeastern side of the island, is a deserted private maritime reserve with an abundance of sea life. The following morning, it takes me about an hour to get there.
The island is the launch site for some of the best snorkelling in Mauritius. Geraledine says the rum bar that serves granadilla, coconut, vanilla and coffee tots is best left for after the swimming. The coral reefs are brimming with inquisitive fish.
The island version of a mariachi band, dressed in floral shirts and white Bermuda shorts, serenades us over a lunch of seafood and fresh greens.
Over the next few days the island has a botox effect on me, without the needles and numbness.
When it's time to leave, every trace of frown has been wiped from my brow and my face has set into a permanent smile.
Geraledine can't help saying ''I told you so" as she walks past my favourite sunset spot on the beach and catches me blissfully sipping my second pina colada.
- Nagel was a guest of Lux Le Morne Mauritius and Island Light Holidays, www.islandlightholidays. co.za, represented by Thompsons Holidays, www.thompsons.co.za
THE TIMES HOT DEAL
ISLAND Light Holidays offers a December deal to Mauritius.
Lux Le Morne: Ex JNB: R20390 for seven nights accommodation. Valid for set departure on 8 December 2012.
Package includes return flights, airport transfers, airport taxes, breakfast and dinner daily.