Darling, sometimes, for the sake of your mental health, you need to firmly stick your head in the sand and ignore reality. And if we are talking sand, then let’s talk lovely sand: The Seychelles! Heavenly sand and lots of it. So often the place you visit is so much less than the chatter, but every once in a while it is that much more glorious than expectations. I had, for reasons I do not understand but am not going to complain about, no hotel curse and an utterly FABULOUS time.
The hotel was six, one-story duplex bungalows (walk up a few steps to porch with chairs, walk into bedroom with clean, 100% cotton sheets; built-into-wall desk and wardrobe and huge bathroom) set in the midst of big tropical garden RIGHT ON THE BEACH – restaurant and bar/ sitting area had overhanging roof and three sides without walls, so lovely sea breezes. You know how much I adore structures without walls.
I got up in the morning, had breakfast (fresh fruit and yummy pastries), then wandered around, looked at stuff, ate lunch at take-away places and came back just before sunset to nap. Then sat on the beach for hours.
I didn’t read anything about the place before I went, just picked the Seychelles because it has a lovely name and beaches – I simply wanted to be away from everything. And when you have no plans, you have the most delightful surprises.
For example, I integrated the Public Bus System. The Seychelles didn’t become a “tourist destination” until early 1970s (a little political unrest before then). Thus they when they were ready to start importing tourists, they could already see what happened to other places blessed with tourists (I am looking at you St. Thomas). In response, they STOPPED the growth of hotels, limited number of beds, forbid camping and youth hostels, banned buildings taller than the surrounding trees, and held back the number of incoming flights. So it’s expensive to go to the Seychelles and almost all tourist get whisked from the airport to their expensive hotel in large hotel buses; they eat dinner at the fancy hotels and get around via taxis, rental cars or rental planes. Tourists do not ride the bus. Locals ride the bus. I rode the bus.
Thus I am able to give you all the details about Seychellois bus culture, which proves it is an advanced civilization. First of all, when you get on the bus, the driver takes your money and gives you a little paper ticket – this is then put into your pocket. They don’t drop it one the ground, crumple it up into a little ball and throw it out the window or at neighbors; they don’t stick it under the seat cushions. If a woman carrying a child gets on and there isn’t a seat for her – one or two women near where the mom is standing will just stick their arms out and the mom will deposit said child in the woman’s lap – the woman will then wrap her arms abound the child and talk to it until either she or the mother has to get off. This happened a lot and I never saw a baby cry or fuss at being deposited on a stranger’s lap!
What was it like? Well, it’s a beautiful tropical island (my first time below the equator!) – you had your clean, fine, white sand, and sparkly green/ blue water, coral and fishes, palm trees (not stupid stubby date palms, but nice majestic proper coconut palm trees), trees that looked like acacias, pines, oleander, hibiscus and bougainvillea, lizards climbing the walls, spicy seafood soups and curries and rum – is there any other definition of Paradise?
The people were not friendly and not unfriendly – just normal, responsible souls, seemed happy to be independent, neither bowing all over tourists or despising them – their government did a good job of keeping the money “local.”
I would also like to inform you that I, ME, alone and unassisted, unprompted by anyone, unchided unto the path of righteousness by a single family member or friend… I took a nature walk. Indeed, I got up at 6 am, took the bus to town (Victoria, the only one), walked to the ferry, took the ferry to Preslin (nearby island, 2 ½ hours), took a taxi (most expensive thing I spent money on except hotel bill) to the Valley de Mai, a World Heritage Site.
It’s a primaeval coconut palm forest and I walked around for two hours! Darling! Two whole hours! The palm trees filled up the whole sky, so it was almost jungley although it was only palms, lots of skinks and spiders and lovely burbley streams. Afterwards I quickly had a dish of coconut ice cream, too much healthy walking is dangerous you know. Then I took taxi to what was called “the world’s most beautiful beach” which is in fact, not the world’s most beautiful beach, but it was no slouch in the beach department either.
In the Seychelles I kept seeing shrubs and flowers and trees and birds and thinking “that’s pretty, wonder what that’s called.” And even stuff I knew I had seen before, I couldn’t identify. When I was little the ‘natural world’ identification was always in the able hands of a family member who could be trusted to come up with the name of the tree or the bird. I thought a lot about this in the Seychelles, because the only thing I really missed for company was someone to tell me all the names of what I was looking at, but then I also know that if someone was next to me, telling me all the names or trying to teach me the names, I would go crazy.
So, Darling, make yourself something to drink that is bright pink and has rum in it, put on your Jimmy Buffet or Bob Marley, sit next to a houseplant and under no circumstances should you turn on the TV or social media. Dream of beaches.