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Posts Tagged ‘Tourists’

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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The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Lovely, lovely rain on my veranda!

Lovely, lovely rain on my veranda!

Longfellow was a pretty smart guy, having grasped the reality of the world being big and the fact that communication between humans from different lands can be difficult when he wrote: Music is the universal language of mankind.

Is it wrong to wish it was more often employed as a replacement for words? (I know that’s rich coming from a writer who can barely carry a tune, but bear with me.)

More than two decades of life on an island touted as a ‘tourist destination’ can sure test one’s patience with … well … tourists, and nothing brings out the worst, the grumpiest, the most bellyaching sniveling in people on holiday than rain.

Yes, we here do understand that you’ve been looking forward to a getaway on a tropical island for yonks, that you may have scrimped and saved for a long time to dig your toes into sand and will be so disappointed if you don’t return to wherever you come from tanned to a crisp that will make every pasty friend you have back home go viridescent with envy. Yeah … we do get that.

We also get that your ideas of a great vacation may be based on trips to Disneyland where, yes, it does sometimes rain, but accommodation has been planned for visitors when it does and advice is available in advance:

Whatever you do DON’T BRING AN UMBRELLA! It’s a pain to carry around, and you will end up poking someone in the eye. DON’T DO IT!

We may even feel sorry for you when it rains every single day of your short holiday.

But …

This isn’t Disneyland! Not everyone is tasked with making your vacation perfect in every way. In fact, no one is. Really.

Those who may think hounding hotel staff, taxi drivers, restaurant owners, shopkeepers … anyone who lives or works here … need to get a grip on their own umbrella … because you will need one. And none of us can answer the oft-repeated question: When will it stop raining?

The sound of the rain needs no translation. ~ Alan Watts

You see, we know it’s raining, and we’re often really, really happy about it. We’ve lived through the dry periods when water restrictions force anyone without a big collection tank to round up buckets and pots and all sort of vessels in various shapes, sizes and colors, then stand on the roadside waiting for a water truck to show up and fill said vessels. We’ve seen our gardens shrivel up, fruit wrinkle on the vine and fruit bats searching long and hard for a bite or two that still has some moisture in it. We’ve shared out cups of hard-won liquid with birds about to tumble out of trees from dehydration. We’ve had our houses invaded by ants and spiders driven to the few damp areas inside.

See? It rains in the tropics!

See? It rains in the tropics!

Most of us would like to work up more sympathy, but, quite frankly, we rather tire of hearing the whinging. We would be happy to lead you to information you should have checked before you decided to holiday in the tropics, but we are too nice to rub it in. And if you catch us on a bad day you may have our take laid out like this: (1) Welcome to the tropics (2) How do you think this place stays so green and lovely? (3) It’s not like you’re going to freeze.

Climate Characteristics: Constant high temperatures throughout the year. Average monthly temperatures are very similar – yearly range is about 2 to 3°C (36 to 37°F). Monthly precipitation is evenly distributed and annual amounts are usually greater than 1500 mm (59 in.). These climates also have frequent cumulus cloud development with some of these clouds becoming air mass thunderstorms. Humidity tends to be high.

So …the sea is warm and swimming in the rain is a lovely experience that presents little diamonds of splash that bounce around before your eyes. We need the rain. We have no control over it or the timing of your holiday.

After all, when we come to your country do we complain … or did we do our homework and prepare? (Disclosure: okay, we complain in England, but isn’t that just adapting to the local culture?)

As Kermit so eloquently sang … It’s not easy being green.

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