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Archive for May 10th, 2009

About as dangerous as wildlife gets ...

About as dangerous as wildlife gets ...

Although I live in what is technically Africa, and there are many trés African elements ici, wildlife on the continent takes far different forms than on this rock.

Across the thousand miles of Indian Ocean to the west, lions, leopards and hyenas hunt, venomous snakes are legion, rhinos stamp out fires and elephants munch bouquets of wildflowers at the end of the rainy season. Caution is vital under all conditions, and lone random wanderings by the novice in city or wilderness are rarely a good idea.

Thankfully, it takes no special vigilance on the part of the tourist to successfully navigate Seychelles … on land. The sea is rife with dangers, and even more so now that pirates have joined the list of maritime threats, but terra firma? Nah.

We have no poisonous reptiles or insects, and although mosquitos may be annoying there are none of the family anopheles, so no malaria.

My visitors get a very quick orientation before I send them out exploring. If they’re not British and driving, they get an X marked on the back of the right hand to reference on which side of the car the middle of the road should be positioned. If swimming or snorkeling is part of the agenda, I warn about sunburn, stonefish and the need to rehydrate.

If deciding to walk in what passes for jungle here, this is what they hear:

1) This is a fairly small island, so getting lost isn’t easy. You can see the sea from just about anywhere, so if in doubt either walk toward it or away from it, depending on where you’re heading.

2) You can run into people just about anywhere, so if you come upon folks in the bush, assume they are either, a) out for a stroll like you, b) collecting fruit, or c) looking for a place for a quick bang out from under the gaze of significant others.

3) When walking through the forest, if you hear a rustling in the undergrowth it can only be, a) a chicken, 2) a lizard, 3) a hedgehog tenrec, or d) the above mentioned tryst seekers

.

Of course, there are dangers and bad things do happen … bags get stolen from the beach, people drown, car wrecks do great damage … but far too often the disasters occur because folks tend to think they’re in some Disney version of the world where the very fact that it’s a holiday somehow protects and makes common sense unnecessary.

It may be possible to leave a backpack full of money, passports and camera unattended while on the Jungle Cruise through Adventure Land, but on a public beach for two hours while snorkeling happens? Getting soaked sitting in the front of Thunder Mountain Railroad is not the the same as taking on the Indian Ocean. And anyone thinking Somali pirates are anything like Johnny Depp needs to give yacht rental a second thought.

Duh.

Thankfully, my friends are, for the most part, sensible. Sure, they come to Seychelles to swim, hike, dive and partake of all things island, but so far they’ve all managed to make it safely back to my veranda where cocktails and conversation are the biggest dangers.

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