Archive for February 17th, 2008

I’ve recently been contacted by a couple seriously considering a move to Seychelles, as this to them seems like the paradise they’ve been looking for. In trying to answer questions in all honesty and convey the true essence of life here … or at least the true essence of life here as I know it … I’ve come up with some pretty good blog material.

What life in Seychelles is like? Well, that depends.

Our life, for example, is very quiet. We have two little kids, so we’re not big on nightlife. In fact, most of the time we’re in bed by 9pm with a good book. An evening out usually means dinner with friends at someone’s house. Weekends are taken up with chores and beach time and the occasional Scrabble game.

Other people live other ways, of course, and the discos are busy on many nights. Some expats spend all their time with other expats, set up reading and craft groups … bored housewife stuff like that I have no time for. The people with boats do boat stuff, divers dive, hikers hike, since living on a tropical island makes it easy to do tropical island-enjoying things.

The people are like people everywhere, varying widely. The local culture doesn’t promote effusive friendliness or terrific manners and many people come across as downright rude, but for the most part the Seychellois are warm, but shy, easily embarrassed, quick to laugh (slapstick is big!), and mildly boring at worst. The societal fabric, however, is changing very fast right now, and crime and drugs are beginning to take hold. Since the police are not as crack at crime solving as they could be, there’s not much of a disincentive, so the upswing is rapid.

Not long ago, almost all the violent crime here was domestic, but that is changing. A woman in my area will killed not long ago by thieves looking for forex, and people are justifiably more afraid than they used to be.

On the shortages we deal with … sometimes there is no milk. Right now, there is no cheese. Sometimes it’s onions that there’s none of. The country has been known to run out of rice, toilet paper, potatoes, bottled water (for lack of bottles, although occasionally for lack of water, as well), and just about everything else at one time or another. For hardware supplies and other items, wood and cement are almost impossible to get and things like plumbing supplies tend to run under a rule that says when you don’t need them, they’re everywhere, but as soon as you do you’ll not find what you need anywhere.

Shipping services are okay, but usually stop at point of entry. The process of clearing goods is a nightmare everyone dreads, as the system is stupid and frustrating and that rudeness I referred to earlier manifests magnificently in some government employees. There is a GST charged on just about everything that comes in that is based on 1) the price of the goods, plus 2) the cost of shipping, plus 3) any applicable import duty, plus 4) a 30% markup just in case you should decide to sell whatever it is. The procedure is often hilarious, if you can manage to see it that way.

For example, if someone sends you a gift you have to fill out a bill of entry before you can see the item, which is difficult if you don’t know what they’ve sent you. This is pretty typical island thinking, by the way, no matter what island.

My mother sends me stuff from the States often. Normally, it takes about a month for a small box full of mint jelly, Mac & Cheese mix and tortillas to make it this far.

What else? Oh, the weather.

Yes, it’s always some version of warm, although evenings cool down pleasantly most of the time. Certain times of the year are better on certain sides of the island, and there are months when it rains more than others. April is notoriously the hottest month of the year, while July can be the coolest … cool enough that we put a light duvet on our bed.

We don’t have aircon in our home, aside from in my office. The rest of the house has ceiling fans that do just fine for keeping things reasonably comfortable. The sun can be fierce, but being this close to the Equator gives us some of the extra protection of a thick ozone layer, so although sunburn is a concern, it’s not quite as dangerous as it is in someplace like the Cornish coast.

Anything else?

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