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Archive for August, 2009

Beach detectives – Anse unknown

One of many!

A day later and we visit the west coast via the Sans Souci road, one of the most scenic drives on Mahe through the Morne Seychellois National Park, which is conveniently the road that we live off. The other one is still doing 99% of the driving, I’m doing baby steps, as the roads are windy and hilly (that’s the bit I don’t like). The drive climbs through the forest of Takamaka, Bwa Rouz and Bwa Zonn trees (Creole names), past the tea factory and the Capucin Mission ruins, where children of freed slaves were educated in the 1880’s, before descending down into the other side of the island. Again the scenery is stunning, looking out to the ocean with the abundant hills of the island interior visible and a couple of islands floating green and luscious. We follow a road off to the right towards Port Launay, mangroves on our right and left, before entering an area of development, a new housing estate for Seychellois and it seems also a new hotel. We spot a car park (well gathering of cars) and assume a beach is nearby – it is. I break into a smile, only my third beach but I think it might just be my favourite…

A family Sunday out with only a few  locals, people are picnicking, kids are running, a small group sings and drums and the whole beach is a sheltered cove with granite rocks scattered and the calm translucent waters of the Indian ocean lap gently. I’m in the sea before you can count to ten, floating, thinking this is the Seychelles.

A little later we end up talking to a couple of Sri Lankans, who it seems are part of an immigrant workforce helping with the building of the new hotel if our broken English conversation is reliable. This to my mind will ruin everything but then for the Seychellois it may be a good thing.

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Beach detectives – Anse Royale

Beach detectives – Anse Royale

With apparently 60+ beaches to be found on Mahe, we have a lot of beach detecting to be getting on with. Different beaches suit different interests, sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling/diving, surfing etc as well as being affected by the climate. We were told that at this time of year the best beaches for swimming are Beau Vallon and Anse Royale. Having sampled Beau Vallon, we decided to head for the latter in the south east of the island. Driving past the airport and onwards, we hug the coastline and the views are amazing out to the blue blue ocean. We pass through Anse aux Pain, so named I reckon as it’s like a small baguette of a beach, though that could be my fanciful explanation, and drive onwards through areas that seem more local before we get to Anse Royale. The place itself is small, parking outside a small strip of shops, we hotfoot it across the road to the beach. An arc of sand stretches out before us, at one end a small rocky island topped with trees (Ile Souris) and pockets of shade are provided along the beach by overhanging trees and bushes. This is a beach that likes to belch its flotsam, strewn with seaweed, though not enough to be off-putting. Quiet with few tourists, we settle in to bake for a while. I test out the water but am surprised by its pull as it flows out and so sit splashing around like a beached whale, the local lads somersaulting in, highlighting my immobility. Sometime later, back on the bake, I realise my inability to move was probably related to the amount of wet sand I appear to have in my pants, prompting concern about how fat my ass is that I couldn’t tell…!

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Rooms with a view

Very kindly two of the newbies, who live close to each other, both offered to put us up for the night so that the other one could drink at the Regatta. This would be our first sighting of anyone else’s accommodation other than our own. Negotiating the steep hill, the other one jumped out of his skin (in rather a dramatic fashion) when a dog decided to surprise him, amusing the newbies no end. I made a beeline for the toilet, so didn’t notice the view initially – ha, was I to turn green with envy. The views were amazing. Right over Beau Vallon beach to the horizon, a panoramic vista easily admired and absorbed from the massive veranda complete with full dining table, two sofa beds, pot plants and all round lived in ambience; all completely walkable to the beach to boot. I was a tad envious– how did they decide who got what?? Shallowly, it gnawed a little but hey we’re here two years, there’ll be plenty of time to move around and experience all the Seychelles has to offer, like real Londoners we can live north, south, east and west and then proclaim the best area that which you can actually afford to buy a flat/house in.

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Regatta –tastic – Heavy metal heads

The surreal factor is upped a notch when the band for the evening is not as you might expect playing  traditional Creole music nor perhaps a more contemporary R&B outfit. No, instead my ears are given an aural onslaught by a bunch of (mainly) white middle aged rockers (and teenager dude) in a heavy metal band called ‘The Red Trees’. Led by a guy who looks like Bill Bailey, though perhaps slightly more part troll, on bass is the former director of the other one’s place of employment, on guitar is a stoned-looking Seychellois and on drums a former student, shirt off wearing his youth proudly. They race through a set of original songs, and according to the other one (who went through that phase most suburban male teens seem to go through of listening to Priest, upping the danger of their denim by wearing studded belt and cuffs) they are actually very good for the genre. A few drunk people are dancing at the front and a sizeable crowd is watching them, however I can’t see any big breasted groupies so can only conclude they’ve not hit the jackpot yet.*

* I later discover they have recorded an album in South Africa with one of David Bowie’s former producers and have been on TV.

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Regatta –tastic – Fashion faux pas

Talking of making impressions… our first Saturday night and its ‘Regatta Weekend’ over at Beau Vallon again. Like a mini festival there are stalls of food and drink, a stage for live music and a massive screen for football. For some reason, though I know it isn’t, I have sailing regatta in my head and decide to wear trousers which are long thus necessitating wedge shoes. My imperceptible nautical nod comes off as clueless princess who only ever travels with her hairdryer and insists on wearing shoes she can’t walk in, made doubly embarrassing by the time it takes to walk down the steep hill from newbies’ homes given I have to walk sideways like a crab .

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It seems football is well loved by the Seychellois. The big screen is on and showing live (sound down) the Liverpool- Bolton match. I feign interest as Liverpool is my team, though at any one time I can never name more than three players (except when it comes to 80’s players I do much better). The other one is delighted to learn that Man United – Arsenal is the big match they’ll be playing, his team being Man U (you can see how much fun we have over football in our house – though we are united in our loathing for Arsenal and Chelsea). We end up decamped on the beach, Takamaka Rum cocktails (a local rum) in hand – the other one rejects the one mixed with blue Curacao as I think there is some unwritten law that blue drinks are emasculating. A young boy entices a gang of older girls to chase him and then pretends he really doesn’t like it when they bury him in the sand, he escapes and annoys them again to guarantee a round two. Boys will be boys. Man U wins after a losing start and I hear the words ‘Stretford End’ uttered by the commentator and can’t help but feel it’s all a little surreal.

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Yoda is not Welsh

I’m a bit of a take me as I am person, light on the must make an impression thing (work excepted), which is usually ok as generally the older you are, the more likely you are to be surrounded by people with similar tastes and less likely that people will be getting to know you from scratch. This strategy is more risky when embarking upon a new life in one of the smallest places you have ever lived and these people are probably your social life for the next two years.  Therefore, I do not recommend a random outburst of a Yoda impression that your partner then has to quickly explain to his new Welsh work colleague – acquainted for less than 72 hours – that what had been attempted was indeed a Yoda impression* and not in any way a mangled, mocking, ill advised attempt at a Welsh accent. Of course anyone who knows me will know that any impression/accent I attempt sounds like a bad Welsh accent. I would like to report, though, I recently had brief success emulating a Russian accent, winding up the other one no end, but it appears to have been a 24 hour virus as now I can’t do it.

* See Channel 4 comedy ‘Inbetweeners’ for similar misappropriate use of Yoda impression.

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