It was a grueling effort to reach this place – I was awake for 42 hours and traveling for 31. But amazingly we made all of our connections, all flights were on time and the luggage arrived as well. It seemed like a good omen for the start of Chapter Seven – the Seychelles .
We have been here now for three days. Everything about it is a complete flip-flop from our time in New Zealand. I knew it was going to be different, but I have to admit it is even more remote than I expected. It’s a bit of an adjustment.
The humidity is about 80% and I always have a bit of a struggle while my body adapts to that. Several times in the first 24 hours I nearly fainted, as I experienced extreme flush from a combination of jet-leg and high humidity and lack of sleep. On day three I can say I am feeling pretty normal now.
Except for the sweat. It’s the kind of place where you take two showers a day – and go in the water as often as possible. A constant 85 degrees with lows about 75. No blankets, no pajamas. Just let it all hang out for the best night’s slumber and let the sound of the crashing waves rock you to sleep.
We wanted to come to this place as an experiment really. To see how we felt about living somewhere this remote. The jury will be out on this question for a while. The island of Praslin (pronounced PRA – Lynn) where we will be for 33 days is very small – ten miles long and five miles wide. I could walk it in a day – except for the hills. The hills are steep and several roads we have been on have had a 30% grade. Crazy. You would never see that in the US. There are 5000 residents on the island, mostly descendants of the slaves who were brought here from Africa by the French in the 1700’s. French is spoken as is English but the main language is called Seychelles Creole. One small community on one side of the island near the airport (it’s a stretch to call it an airport – more like a landing strip) and another small community on the other side of the island where we are. I guess you could call it a
town, but barely. There is a gas station, a bank and a “hospital” (more like a clinic). There are a handful of “grocery stores” but not in any way what I would think of as a grocery store. Much of the shelves are empty and some of the items on the shelves look like they have been there a long time. There are two stores that cater to European tastes, but even in these very expensive stores we were hard pressed to find fresh produce beyond cabbage, potatoes and tropical fruit. Lettuce, one of my staples, is pretty much non-existent. Rice, lentils and canned beans are prevalent, but I couldn’t find chicken stock that I hoped to use to make risotto. I did however find frozen chicken, so maybe I can use the bones to make stock. There seems to be very, very little cultivation of any kind on the island, so everything is brought in either from the island of Mahe – the largest island, or from farther out.
Our plan was to not have a car on the island, figuring we could walk everywhere. We did however rent a car for the first two days, and in that time we explored the whole island to see what was here. But mostly we used the car to go to as many as 10 little stores on both sides of the island to collect a
hodgepodge of ingredients and staples to get us by. We also purchased a case of beer, a case of tonic, a half-gallon of gin and 8 giant bottles of water. These are the items we can’t really carry, so when those run out we may rent a car again for a day. In the meantime we can walk or ride the bikes a mile and half to the little store to fill in our other needs. We are a long ways from starving to death, but I will say it’s been a bit stressful realizing just how remote we are and how little access there is to the things we use everyday and we take for granted.
We only have seen one “take-away” restaurant in the little town near us. We know there is a hotel about a mile from here that has a restaurant. That’s an option if we feel we need it. The local cuisine is mostly curries and Creole food, based on the local people, who originated here as slaves in the 1700’s.
Meanwhile though, I am living in paradise and
should’t worry about all of this. Our airbnb sits right on the edge of the sea and we can step directly from the patio into the ocean. It’s warmer than many baths I’ve taken. Incredibly warm and
incredibly blue. We bought two air mattresses and I expect to get my money’s worth out of those little floating islands.
While we had the car we drove to Anse Lazio – at the end of the road on the east side of the island (the
side we are on) and spent several hours marveling at this gorgeous stretch of white sand strewn with giant granite boulders. This beach always makes the list of most beautiful beaches in the world. We will try to go back there again.
We also spent a morning hiking through the UNESCO Heritage Site of Valle de Mai, a jungle forest where the Coco de Mer tree grows – the only place in the world this tree is found naturally. These giant palms are amazing. The pictures really don’t
capture the immense size of the palm fronds. This palm has the largest nut in the world, at maturity weighing about 40 lbs. There are male trees and female trees, and like other island nations we have been in the phallic connotations of these trees have created a revered local lore. The “nut” certainly does look a lot like the backside of Beyonce if you get my drift. And the male tree, well, you can
imagine what it looks like. Anyway the protected forest is home not only to the Coco De Mer but other species of palms as well as many protected birds including the black parrot which will likely be as elusive as the kiwi was in New Zealand.
However there are many other crazy critters that are not shy at all and have been a bit of a welcome committee for us. The giant fruit bat is like a small airplane while the palm spider is straight out of
Harry Potter. I had an encounter with a palm spider in the middle of the night in the bathroom that was a bit freaky.
However neither of these creatures are dangerous – they just look scary. Like many tropical places we have been the geckos are abundant and make themselves at home inside and outside. There are brown geckos and bright green ones as well as skink. We have also seen cockroaches and
centipedes and many, many birds including what we think are frigates. I’ll need to do more research on the birds.
Apparently there are also stingray right here at our beach, though we haven’t seen them yet. We were told to splash around a lot to scare them away before we get in the water. They can’t kill you but a sting would be painful. So now of course getting in and out of the water gives you pause…
The Seychelles are also home to giant tortoises but we need to go to another island to see those. We do plan to take a boat out to see a couple of the other islands in the weeks ahead. But until then I probably won’t have a lot more to blog about. Just gonna be sitting here in the sun…me and Arne and the geckos. Eating canned beans and pineapple. Wondering how in the world did this become my life.
Life in paradise. Life in paradise? Time to relax and just enjoy it for what it is.