It seems that this is the only line single Mauritian men know when they first meet a woman. Where is the romance? These are meant to be French islands after all! By the time we disembark the plane at Rodrigues airport I am dodging five fans begging for my Facebook details.
What's more, my charming Rodriguan driver, Jean-Paul, makes a quick stop to welcome me to Rodrigues with a single long stemmed red rose - the most elegant and romantic of flowers and certainly a much more pleasant flirtation.
Soon he announces that we’ve arrived at my 'hotel'. It is set on a hill overlooking the ocean. The low whitewashed wall boasts a sweet painting of a Solitaire bird (the Rodriguan version of the Dodo, which is also extinct) and the words ‘Rodrigues Prison’ in big red letters. Behind the gate lies a small building with lots of open windows. I laugh. Clearly there is not a lot of crime on this island, which is always nice to know.
Since I’m not that keen on prison food Jean-Paul takes me to Coralie La Difference for my first taste of Rodriguan cuisine. Here I meet Sandrine, from the local tourism office, for a lunch and a glass of French Chardonnay on the terrace. While Coralie La Difference has a spacious and pleasant interior (great for a wedding, while we're on the topic), the large garden terrace set on the top of a hill has a bird's eye view of the ocean. The sun is dancing all over the shades of blue in the lagoon and it's just dazzling.
Sandrine and I both enjoy a starter of fresh-fresh salt and pepper calamari with garlic bread. The portion is generous and luckily I’m starving because the main of octopus curry and basmati rice is definitely up there with some of the best meals I’ve ever had. Perfectly tender octopus infused with spices and coconut milk – I’m still trying to coax the recipe out of Madame Brigitte who recently breathed new life into this picturesque venue.
As two single ladies Sandrine and I have a good laugh about the inability of the Mauritian men to understand that a woman alone is not always necessarily looking for a man. Not just any man, anyway. Chocolate will do. Especially the rich rolled chocolate cake Madame Brigitte spoils us with for dessert.
The local coffee here is good too and a strong espresso is just what I need to keep going after such a beautiful lunch - that includes the food, the wine, the company and, of course, that view.