Winter is coming…
I hate to disappoint anyone, but this is sadly not a reference to the ultra famous show, Game of Thrones (I cannot wait for season 8, by the way). This actually is literally about the temperature drop occurring in Mauritius every year, the cold which gradually begins in May, increases in July and August and slowly fades away in September. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Southern winter!
Monday, 6 AM, 20 degrees Celsius. The sun has not come out yet. I reach out for the buzzing alarm clock (yes, I still use one) from my bedside table, grab the air conditioner remote control instead. Gross, it’s starting to pick up dust. It might just be about time to think about cleaning the filters. All curled up in my warm, cozy bed, this is the only spot I want to be in right now (or ever, really). TWO MORE MINUTES. That is all I am asking for before braving the cruel, chilly world outside.
I give in.‘Tis my fate, off I go. After running a hot shower, I dress accordingly : sweater, stockings and boots. Alright, let’s throw in the scarf and hat too, just in case. The only item missing are the gloves, but I reckon typing on a keyboard could get a little challenging.
I feel like I need to explain here : there is a difference of about 2 to 3 degrees between where I live and my place of work, whence the legitimacy of the attire.
The grievances of my fellow citizens, similar to my own, caught on the public transport and at the office, are such sweet comfort and music to my ears. The consistent moans and groans can be heard from here to Sunday. All. Day. Long. “Ayo (a typical Mauritian idiomatic expression that can describe a range of emotions, notably, frustration), it was so excruciatingly cold last night!” “This weather is AWFUL, it must be at least 17 degrees out here!”. “ We are freezing our socks off, when will the cold stop!? ”. If this is not a clear example of the legendary empathy of the Mauritian people, I don’t know what is.
The gloom has spread to the villages, too. Gone – with the wind, so to speak – are the elders, who, on bright sunny days, can be seen playing board games in the shade of tall trees or simply sitting back in their yards to escape the unbearable heat of their houses. These days, they shy away from stepping outside.
The same goes for the deserted beaches, for it is a truth universally known that Mauritians only ever venture a trip to the seaside when the water temperature is above 35 degrees Celsius, when soaking up the sun for hours is a guaranteed activity and when the day ends with a nice summer barbecue on the beach as the sun sets in the West.
Well, the barbecue season is over. These are replaced by soups, hot meals and especially tea of all flavors and blends, a well-anchored Mauritian tradition borrowed from the British, which we enjoy while cloistered and snuggled up in the warmth of our homes.
I can easily picture the teasing smile of our Northern Hemisphere friends at this point. If you ask them, all is well under the tropical sun. In the coastal regions, the glaring sunlight is ever-present, the temperature is comfortable and as they like to add with a chuckle “much the same as in Europe in the summer”.
25 degrees Celsius on the coast. Tourists everywhere are wandering the streets wearing light clothes : t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, summer dresses (that’s funny, I wore the same dress back in February, it is now stacked somewhere in the top left shelf of the closet). Some of them are lining up in front of the ice cream truck. Just the thought of it makes me shiver.
Others are stretched out on the beach, sunbathing, taking a dip in the ocean, or taking advantage of the “comfortable” climate and low humidity levels to enjoy outings and activities until dusk. Are you catching my drift yet? Winter in Mauritius is virtually non-existent for the holidaymakers. I almost envy them. Okay, alright, I am ridiculously jealous.
Wait, did I just catch a glimpse of a ray of sunshine outside my window? I hate to cut this short, but excuse me while I grab my cup of tea and make a run for it.