As I write this, my stomach is full, my tan is replenished and the ocean that runs before me as far as the eye can see is a glorious clear blue that matches the beautiful cloudless sky.
Over the past couple of months, as I’ve had to introduce myself and the normal question of where I’m from comes up, I either have the pleasure of an awed reaction of recognition or the pleasure of a completely blank reaction and having to thus go through the whole explanation that I’ve mastered by now; ‘It’s in the Indian Ocean… Do you know where Mauritius is? Madagascar maybe?’ If I’m lucky enough, the answer is yes and so I can say ‘Well, it’s to the north of that, four degrees south of the Equator.’ If the answer to those questions so happens to be no then all I’m left with is ‘Well just trust me on this, they’re a small group of islands in the Indian Ocean to the east of mainland Africa and four degrees south of the equator. It’s literally a dot on the map but I promise you it’s there.’
The Seychelles. A mixture of mountainous granitic islands and flat coralline plateaus, there are 115 in total, inhabited by a population of only 98,000. The national languages are English, French and Creole, of which I luckily speak all three, and the culture is one of diversity, being a population with backgrounds from all over the world. The main island is Mahé, where the majority of the population live and work and where the capital, Victoria, is found. Several natural and national history museums are scattered across the capital for those seeking to learn a bit more about the islands. The iconic clock tower sits right in the middle of it all, having been inaugurated by the English in 1903 as a replica of the Big Ben in London. Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clark market can also be found right at the center of town, where you’ll find all the local fruit and veg as well as the catch of the day. The second biggest island is Praslin and the third is La Digue, where the rest of the population live. The other islands, although inhabited by some, either boast the title of nature reserve, exclusive tourist hideaway or even one of the seven wonders of the world (the Aldabra Atoll). The cuisine is rich in spice, coconut milk, seafood, curries and one of our staple leafy greens called Mourounga, has scientifically been proven to be one of the healthiest greens in the world, rich in antioxidants and with nutrients that fight diabetes and protect brain health. Much of the flora and fauna is indigenous to the islands and the vegetation is lush and green all year round, due to the country only ever having, as the Europeans call it, ‘eternal summer’; we have two monsoons so its either super dry or very humid and rainy.
The Seychelles has some of the world’s rarest plants and animals, some of which can only be found on the islands. We have the biggest nut in the world, the female of which resembles a human female bottom, and the male which resembles a human male genital; why? I have no idea, mother nature just decided it’d be cool. We have the smallest frog in the world; the pitcher plant, the upside down jellyfish, the blue pigeons, the Seychelles Kestrel and so many other insects, animals and plants that existed on the islands before man even stepped foot on them 250 years ago. Often referred to as the Garden of Eden, the Seychelles is definitely one of the most beautiful places on this earth and I’m lucky enough to call it home.
Now that’s a bit of history and general knowledge for those of you who didn’t know quite what I was on about when I said I was from the Seychelles. Now for the fun part; must do’s when in the Seychelles.
The islands are framed by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and so you can bet that the moment I landed, I grabbed my bikinis and made by way to the beach. There are so many to choose from; in the North you have the famous Beau Vallon beach, where all the tourists go to enjoy water sports and a swim in the effervescent waters. You can rent out a boat with a skipper and go fishing or diving or snorkling or simply just for a ride round the island. You can also get one of the best pizzas on the island up there as well, from Baobab Pizzeria which sits right on the beach near the end of the bay. Some islanders will disagree with me and say that it’s La Fontaine, found on the other side of the road, or Sun Coco, found a five-minute drive away; but the only thing you should take from that is that it’s safe to say there’s not a lack of pizza options. On Wednesday evenings, Beau Vallon hosts the popular Bazar Labrin where tourists and locals alike come to enjoy the market with stalls selling local food and craft and if you’re lucky, they’ll light a bonfire and a local band will play some traditional music, to give you a real taste of the creole culture, while a mix of young and old men play dominos under the trees not too far away. If you take a drive around the island you’ll find a beach at every corner, some wide and easily accessible, others hidden from the roads but which emulate the true meaning of hidden paradise.
Then of course there are the mountains. The trail to the island’s highest mountain, Trois Frere (French for Three Brothers) is arduous and steep but is definitely worth the view all the way at the top. The Anse Major trail to the north of the island leads you to a secluded section of the island accessible only by boat and foot. If you venture to any of the other islands, which you most definitely should, Praslin and La Digue should be your first stop, with the world renown Valle de Mai being your go to trail for all things flora and fauna. There you’ll see a forest of Coco de Mer and if you’re lucky, you’ll hear the cries of the Black Parrot which are not only found solely in the Seychelles and nowhere else in the world, but are only found on that particular island. Praslin is home to the Anse Lazio beach and La Digue is home to the Anse Source D’Argent beach, both of which have been labelled one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Not to forget the numerous waterfalls that dot the various islands.
One of the things I love most about the islands is the feeling of getting in your car with your friends, grabbing a couple of pizzas, a few ciders and driving around the island with the windows rolled down, jamming to some dancehall hits which are very popular here. My playlist is always a bit of mix of everything, so one day it’ll be Abba pouring out my windows and the next it’ll be Vybz Cartel. In terms of nightlife, the young people enjoy just parking by the side of the beach and listening to their music till the late hours of the night or if it’s a party you’re looking for, the Boardwalk, as well as Fire and Ice on Eden Island host some good Wednesday and Friday nights to dance the night away. Another blissful feeling is spending Sunday with the family. The tradition is to cook a Sunday meal which usually involves a grilled fish, some local salads or a barbecue and the whole family sits eating together, followed by a dip in the sea. I can’t explain the feeling of peacefulness that comes with days like that.
Whether you’re looking for an activity packed holiday or a relaxing getaway to simply do nothing and soak in the rays, the Seychelles has something to offer you. You’ll leave feeling like you’ve just experienced a taste of perfect paradise. My holiday back home was short this time around but it opened my eyes to the things that I once took for granted in my home, and it just made me realise just how lucky I am. Sadly, it’s back to London now, and back to the grind, but that comes with it’s own excitement and anticipation to get back to reality and to the continuation of this big new part of my life.
Until next time, I hope your 2018 has gotten off to a positive and productive start. Sit back, grab some Oreos, and let’s see what life has to offer us next.