I say Mauritius and you are thinking of clean beaches, mesmerizing turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and the perfect idea of a holiday that never ends. Most of that is true, except I was also on a tight schedule and could not afford a holiday that went on forever in Mauritius. And just so you know, Mauritius is not cheap.
Way before I went to Mauritius, there were little things that tested my manners. The first one was, listening to a stranger tell me to get off my iPad and talk to people at the lobby/bar of the hotel we were staying at for a wedding in Togo. That was useful advice because, that stranger ended up being one of my business mentors and hosts in Mauritius.
The second was 10 minutes after I got on my plane from Johannesburg heading to Mauritius, the cabin attendant politely asked me if I was willing to switch my seat with a passenger and move forward, no not to first class. I wish. I thought if I get to give two people the opportunity to connect better, why not? So I moved forward.
Little did I know I will end up sitting right next to another young Ghanaian female executive I admired. She was going for a conference in Mauritius and two days after our own connection on the plane, we met again at the university campus I was giving my talk at. A new friendship was born.
The third test was when I got to the immigration counter, thinking it was going to be a breeze, but the immigration official didn’t think so. If you are Ghanaian, you do not need a visa to visit Mauritius, well at the time of writing this. But, and a big but, you need to prepare and not leave anything to chance. The immigration officer had a lot of questions beyond how long I was staying. He wanted to know how I knew my hosts, where we met, how long I have known them. This was a little odd, but I kept my cool. He also wanted to know how much money I had and if I could show him. I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t. I showed him some cash and my card. Then he asked for my hosts number and called them. I bet he regretted the decision, because my hosts were already waiting at the airport and told the official off. They asked if the official knew who I was and more importantly, he was told to stop intimidating me and let me go. I was only in Mauritius for 4 days, I wasn’t an economic immigrant. He hurriedly skipped three empty pages of my passport and stamped the fourth. I wanted to protest, knowing how challenging it can be to get another passport in Ghana, but I remained calm. When it comes to immigration officials, the trick is to be as pleasant as possible, until you get in or until you have some wild cards to pull.
I later found out, there has been an influx of migrants to Mauritius; people pretending to come on holiday and never leaving.
Finally, whilst in Mauritius, some Mauritians kept asking me about “Africa” or will say things like “When you go to Africa”, I had to sometimes gently remind some of them Mauritius is in Africa or at other times, I ignore that statement.
I look back at my time in Mauritius and remind myself that, no matter how right you might be, it is important not to let ego get in the way, but to demonstrate good manners whenever you can. Good manners are your friends and ego can be the enemy.
Edem Adzaho is a multiple award winning International Training Consultant, a Global Graduate Coach, Author and Globetrotter. she has worked in over 24 countries and visited over 40 countries so far. She writes about her travel adventures at www.vamejotravel.wordpress.com. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube @EdemAdzaho or email her [email protected]