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Published: June 18th 2015
“Make sure the prawns are ready, Santa’s almost here!”
Perspiration clung to the foreheads of the staff as they busied themselves with adjusting table decorations. This year, I had been relieved of the pressure of Christmas at home and, for, two weeks, whilst on a once-in-a-life-time-never-to-be-repeated-for-fear-of-being-disowed-by-the-family holiday, that pressure had been consigned to someone else. The waiters re-adjusted their bow-ties as the manager announced (just a little too eagerly) to a crowded beach “Santa’s here!”
Mauritius is a tropical island and I had quickly learnt that ‘tropical’ translates to ‘it <em style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">will rain a lot’. After eight days of persistent rain storms and with the long-awaited arrival of clear-blue skies, the residents of Flic-en-Flac beach (myself included) were more than a little reluctant to stir from their sun beds. Santa’s imminent presence (and indeed presents) did prompt a few eager twitches from some of the hotel’s younger guests and a handful of parents were coerced to the shoreline where a portly, moustached Santa edged himself onto the jetty. Admittedly, a few of the tinier children seemed a little baffled by his chosen method of transport; where was the sleigh? Where were the reindeer? Santa squinted in the sunlight and, ever the icon of style, donned his Ray-bans.
After the excitement had worn off a little, lunch was served. Silver platters of prawns and scallops were distributed under the shade of coconut trees and the indigenous Red Cardinal bird chirruped along to the Gospel Choir’s carolling. Flic-en-Flac had, despite the thirty degree heat and ninety percent humidity, got a ‘Christmassy feel’. Crackers were pulled and a main course of turkey(!) was served seasoned with nutmeg and cardamom and accompanied by spiced Achard; traditional Sega dancers glided hypnotically amongst the diners and the bubble of chatter complemented the clink of champagne flutes.
A glance in the direction of the outdoor bar told me that Santa had not yet left the island and was enjoying a glass of sherry (probably) under the shade of a palm. Christmas lunch continued long into the afternoon and Santa, in no particular hurry, wiped a bead of sweat from beneath the fur rim of his hat.
“Give me this over the North Pole any day,” he announced to nobody in particular.
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