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Archive for September 11th, 2010

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. ~Bertold Brecht

An interview with me sparked by my contribution to the new book Female Nomad and Friends … “ is soon to be published.

Bestselling author Rita Golden Gelman launches Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World (A Three Rivers Press Original), June 1, 2010, in Seattle. Forty-one authors tell their stories of adventuring around the world; all but two of them are women.

With “adventuring around the world” as a focus, the interviewer voiced an interest in my world and the changes I’ve seen since first venturing as far as Seychelles back in 1993, prompting a casting back of my mind to early days here and a brief wander through the almost-two-decades leading to the ‘modern’ island life I live now.

I’ve seen many changes to my personal circumstances, but life boiling down, as it does, to the nuts and bolts of plodding one day to the next, it’s nuts and bolts we’re looking at this morning.

I’ll start with the nuts, admitting that my mother sends me walnuts from California, but you can now often find almonds in the shops, and hardware-ish establishments seem well stocked in screws, bolts and tacks, although most are Chinese-made and break easily. The place in town that sells underwear and children’s shoes still has car tires parked at the front door, and any search for specific items involves a hunt through retailers whose shelves seem to have been arranged by Sybil.

All those years back, a phone call to my mom in the US involved a trip to town. Cable & Wireless, the only telecommunication company at the time, offered international calling booths, and for a mere $12.00 a minute would send my voice halfway around the world. Now, almost everyone over 15 has a stylish cell phone permanently plastered to their texting fingers and queues of folks with 10 rupees in their pocket to recharge prepaids at half the top-up cost stretch around town. I not only have three phones, but also an internet connection … some of the time … that offers up a daily alternative to the one daily newspaper, Seychelles Nation, a publication that has no news on Sunday.

Having spent time in many countries by 1993, I was astounded to find this island the only place I was not able to buy a Coke. SeyPearl was the sole provider of soft drinks, and Seybrew was the only brand of beer. Although Pepsi is still hard to come by and I’ve yet to see a Dr. Pepper, Coca Cola has taught this part of the world to sing and some restaurants even offer Corona, lime and all.

Before cable TV was made available, and immediately became de rigueur, SBC was the only television station. With limited programming and an interesting social sense, every evening at 8:30 it would go off-air for an hour to allow people to eat dinner. 11pm saw the end of the broadcast day and came with an admonition to viewers to ‘go to bed’. Now, however, it’s 24/7 and people here fully grasp the reference when I refer to life in Seychelles being rather like “Lost” meets “Desperate Housewives”.

The number of cars on the road has increased exponentially, as traffic and number plates prove; my first car here sported S4016, meaning it was one of 4,016 vehicles registered in the country. New ones on the road now are close to hitting 30,000, and although we did get 5 kilometers of dual carriage way … two lanes of traffic in each direction for American readers … between here and Victoria, most roads keep their narrow windiness, hairpin turns and steep grades.

The world has contracted greatly and sucked Seychelles into the homogenized ball along with it. Seychelles living is not nearly the unique experience it once was … both for the good and for the not-so-good …

BUT …

The country is stunningly beautiful, the sea is as close to pristine as water that globally connects to all water can be, we locals consider beaches crowded when we have to share with more than 20 people, and we still have not one single fast food franchise.

There could come a day when my view includes oil rigs, shopping malls rise up and become teen hangouts and a McDonald’s drive-thru beckons, but that is not today. Check back in 2026 …

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