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Posts Tagged ‘expat living’

Sunset feet

One of the things …

Having received requests to work my way toward the 50 things about Seychelles I sounded off about in a recent post, I’ve found time today … after scrubbing mold off kitchen walls, jettisoning a bunch of items I’d not bothered to look at in years, cleaning tenrec dens, picking up after poopy dogs and feeding the birds … to add another 10 to the list.

Since an election happens … again … in a couple of days, and since I’m sick to death of politics both here and abroad, it’s good to focus for a while on the weirdly mundane for a while.

So, here are some aspects of life for people in Seychelles that may seem a bit odd to inhabitants of other places, but are completely normal here …

12190030_10208223474013724_3256839163126993599_n1) We know our bananas. There are many varieties that grow here, and everyone can spot the difference between gabo, fig and San Jacques. We have big bananas, tiny bananas, sweet bananas and bananas for frying, yellow bananas, red bananas and green bananas. They are picked green, because we all know the aphorism:

Q:  How do you know when your      bananas are ready to be picked?          A:  They’re gone!

We have a bazillion uses for bananas. A regime (what a whole, huge bunch is called here) can contain anywhere from a dozen to a multitudinous slew of individual fruits attached, and all go ripe within days of each other. ‘No waste, no want’ being a dictate, putting all to good use is no small feat. From the usual banana bread to the more exotic katkat banann and banann ladob to cream pie to chips to ice cream topping, there are many options. A ripe regime inspires no little visiting, either, as we share out what we have, knowing full well it will come back to us bountifully in no time.

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Rhino beetles are cute!

 

2) We don’t mind critters. One cannot live in Seychelles for long without developing a tolerance, often even an affection for the small creatures who share our homes. Bugs and lizards are ubiquitous, so getting used to seeing them is a must. Skinks and geckos are quite entertaining, as is watching visitors go crazy at their presence.

I have been asked on occasion to write informational inserts for in-room packets for hotels because the panicked phrase, “There are BABY CROCODILES climbing the walls in my room!”, has been heard by those manning the night desk far too often.

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Awww … baby gecko!

I’m still no fan of big spiders and ants are a pain, but I’ve developed a fondness for rhinoceros beetles and stick insects and an appreciation for the skill of mason wasps.

3) We sometimes even share critters. My tenrecs love crunchy bugs and juicy worms, so I have been known to ask for donations from friends. Gay has a compost heap that is full of worms … which reminds me; I need to get up to her place and see if she has enough now to spare a dozen.

4) We organize our complaints. Service isn’t always what it should be, so after a spate of crappy Internet or an erratic electricity supply friends put their heads together and coordinate gripes.

5) We talk about death. Our own deaths, to be exact. Since most of us expats have little-to-no family, no next-of-kin, within a few thousand miles, planning for our eventual demise is just part of what friends do. Our out-of-country connections are shared, as well as the details on what we want done with our empty husks.

6) We obey the laws … sometimes. Seychelles has as many laws as anywhere, but some do seem to be more like suggestions. For example, it is illegal to park on double yellow lines, to overtake on a solid white line, to use a phone while driving, yet every shop along the road has cars and trucks parked on double yellows, any drive at the speed limit will have you passed in no-passing areas by dozens of cars, trucks and busses, and it seems every other driver has a phone stuck to his ear. It is also illegal to have tinted windows on a car. (Who was that? Don’t know … the windows were tinted.) Legislation was passed a few years ago banning building on mountaintops, but that apparently does not apply if you happen to own one of the United Arab Emirates.

7) We entertain other peoples’ visitors. No one visits Seychelles for a weekend; even a week is far too short a time for many. It takes a couple of days to get here from most places, so 10 days is routinely calculated as the minimum stay. That’s great, most of the time. Since this place is so very different, very few guests are up to getting out and about on their own. For working people, this can put quite a strain on their time. Then, of course, there are the difficult guests … grumpy parents, that weird uncle, the school friend you dropped who is just dying to see you again since you live so close to a beach. Sure, you could book them into a hotel, but you won’t.

No worries. Your friends here will pick up a lot of the slack, because we know you’ll be there for us when guests-from-hell send flight details and a long to-do-on-holiday list.

8) We are casual. Although I’m sure there are people here who own formalwear, and perhaps even dress to the nines from time-to-time, but for most in Seychelles dressing up is more a matter of putting on your best long trousers, preferably jeans. There was a private school headmaster who kicked off holy hell by insisting teachers not wear jeans to work, his days in England giving a bias that saw denim as too devil-may-care laid-back and loosey-goosey for an institution of learning. Little did he realize that most here would wear their ‘good’ jeans to have tea with the Queen.

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Sparky in her harness …

9) We leave empty and come back full. Going overseas is a big deal for anyone anywhere, but when traveling to big places from a small place it’s not just a holiday … it’s a shopping trip. Packing is easy, as our big suitcase contains only our smaller suitcases on the way out. And it’s not only ourselves we shop for. Nope. The suitcase within a suitcase within a suitcase is sure to have at least three lists of stuff to get for friends. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have blood sugar monitoring sticks, batteries, print cartridges, flip flops, flea drops, tenrec halters, tequila, clothing, dog collars, a toilet seat and many, many other items delivered to me by friends returning from a vacation abroad. It’s a courtesy we acknowledge and value highly.

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We have great sky!

10) We look at the sky … a lot. Views here are big, wide and impressive, and unlike in more confined spaces we have a big chunk of sky over us. By day, we watch clouds move around and can see rain coming from miles away. By night, the distance between Seychelles and mega-cities allows the stars in the southern sky to shine and twinkle by the thousands. We know the season by the placement of Venus and are known to stay up all night for meteor showers. The moon in all its phases is as familiar as the 6 o’clock news is to those who live indoors most evenings, and an eclipse is an event bigger … and more entertaining … than the Superbowl.

So … that’s now 20 things about Seychelles, and many more have come to mind while putting these down. More to come. Don’t touch that dial. Film at 11.

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Some days are better than others, and some are so spectacularly better they deserve an entire post dedicated to their spectacularness.

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Maia Spa

This has been one of those days.

Let me begin by stating unequivocally that I SO deserve this day … ‘nuff said.
Going into detail about just why I’m deserving of hours of luxurious pampering would only serve to dent this almost transcendental state I’m enjoying for as long as I can keep it going, and you already know how life can suck so there’s no reason to go there.

Here are the magic words that made a Wednesday in May wonderful:

Maia Luxury Resort and Spa

Seychelles has a few 5 Star+ resorts and Maia is the jewel in the crown. Award-winning and consistently listed as one of the best hotels in the world by every globally recognized travel publication and tourism organization, it is beautiful with attention paid to every detail and an atmosphere of peaceful exclusivity.

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Maia Attention to Detail

The hotel serves only its guests, so opportunities to luxuriate in Maia environs are rare for most people in Seychelles. I, however, am not most people. (Okay … most days I am very much ‘most people’, but today I was special.)

Here’s how my Wednesday unfolded:

After dropping the kids for their trip to school at 6:15, I returned home for coffee, yogurt and a bit of work. I then drove the 15 or so minutes to Maia where I pulled up at the gate, flashed a smile, and was admitted … after the security guy made a phone call.

I was greeted in the Welcome Pavilion by the gracious Mr. Georges, a manager of long standing with Maia, who escorted me to the Maia Spa where I was served cool juice as my feet soaked in scented water and I was asked to choose from a selection of heavenly oils, then led to an amazingly comfy message bed.

For the next hour I was pampered and pummeled in equal measure, a most pleasurable experience I could easily live with as a daily occurrence.

That done, I was slightly rearranged as it was my face’s turn to be gently indulged for another hour in ways I’m sure took a year or three off this old visage.

Soon after deciding I was NEVER leaving, I was served the most delicious chilled glass of juices I’ve ever tasted and a bowl of fresh fruits … kiwi, melon, pineapple, etc. … in a lovely alcove surrounded by garden and water and bird calls.

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After-pamper refreshment … Maia Style

I may not have left if champaign and sashimi with great company had not been on offer, but it was, so I did.

Many thanks to Maia’s General Manager, Ernst Ludik, and to Georges Gravé for the day and the terrific conversation.

I’d be very happy to do this day again …

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Champers and Mimosa …

“Like” Maia on facebook to see more …

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ImageHave I mentioned the ghost sitting on my roof?

Apparently … or is that apparitionalyly? … it’s just Sydney, my dead neighbor. Not that anyone has ever actually seen a wispy version of a long-departed guy perching near my rain gutter, but that hasn’t stopped the story from spreading from Anse Soleil to Baie Lazare like an invasive creeper.

Like many islands and much of Africa, Seychelles, being an island AND African, enjoys a casual familiarity with ghosts and gris gris. Although steps are routinely taken to keep the number of zombies (locally known as ‘dandotia‘ to a minimum, it seems there are few effective methods for keeping the wraiths away. Believe me, if I could find a spell that would convince the people around here that disembodied Sydney had moved on to a more comfy spot than my hot tin roof, I would put it to use. Not that I’m much bothered by the idea of a rooftop phantom neighbor, but the kankan makes it difficult to find someone willing to walk down my road to cut my grass.

Although it seems silly … and it’s been no few times I’ve watched people scoff with horror attempting a skepticism they so don’t feel … far be it from me to insist on a non-existence of spirit beings. Heck, for all I know we’re surrounded by them all the time, just as we go through life unaware (thankfully) of all the mites, viruses, bacteria and such that inhabit everything and take every opportunity to become one with us. Not to say I believe we die and turn to dust mites, although that is more likely than growing wings and strumming harps given decomposition and all, as the idea of Sydney morphing into millions of tiny bits that could infest my mattress is just too gross to consider. Perceiving the unseen, the unknown and the unknowable may or may not be within the realm of human potential. ESP and other notions of connections with a higher consciousness have been debated for centuries, so who am I to point a finger and laugh?

Someone whose grass needs cutting, that’s who.

And, yes, I am keeping with the date theme that started with May the 4th (be with you), but may have to shift gears as the month goes on. Tomorrow, however, I will be spending the day in 7th Heaven, so watch this space.

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