Archive for November 20th, 2007

My house sits on some of the oldest dirt on the planet.


I’m not talking about the grit behind my fridge; although that has been there a while, it’s nothing compared to the soil, pebbles and boulders that make up the island of Mahé and the 39 or so other inner islands of Seychelles.

Mahé, Praslin, LaDigue, and other smaller lumps are the oldest ocean islands in the world, and our dirt here is so old that we don’t even have fossils. Can’t, because at the time what is now our little country formed there was nothing living anywhere — no plants or animals, no single-celled pre-living thing. Nothing. There was sky. There was sea. There was here. That was it.

Unlike islands people think of when tropical beaches come to mind, this island and her close neighbors have never seen a volcano. Our ground is granite … ancient, strong and lovely granite, the only mid-ocean granite islands in the world … and to geologists, granite means nothing less than continent.

There’s not much left to see now … Mahé is, after all, only 17 miles long and 4 miles wide … but where I sit writing this blog is the vestigial remains of Pangea, the super-continent of all super-continents, the one that started it all.

The soil in my garden was here before Gondwanaland decided to be its own chunk, and that was about 520 million years ago. Before dinosaurs roamed, before the places dinosaurs roamed were even places, the rocks I train my alamanda to grow over were warming in the sun and shedding rain.

These are rocks worth celebrating, wouldn’t you say? As ancient as the planet itself, slowly decomposing as granite does over the millennia, tiny residual land masses sinking a fraction of an inch every 1000 years, what else could signify Earth as well as these islands?

Apparently, the answer to that question would be: Well, a whole bunch of trendy hotels that are guaranteed to be out-of-date white elephants within little more than a decade should do the trick.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, these islands are being hacked and hewn at a rate that provides a horrifying example of the destruction humans worship.

Our rocks? Blown to bits by dynamite over and over again, as my house shakes with each blast and I jump out of my skin as the booms sneak up and bite another piece of beautiful granite and reduce it to rubble. And now the hotel construction devils … proudly making the way for environmentally sensitive tourists to stroll manicured gardens and swim in temperature-controlled pools … are employing a silent destroyer of venerable rock — a chemical that gets poured down a jackhammered hole, expands overnight, and cracks and splits what has for millions of years held its form.

Yesterday I was mad as hell. Today, I’m still mad, and totally sick about it.

Sam on rock

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