Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sey What? Seychelles for the Weekend.

There's two types of sand in our world.  The one that is blowing in your face everyday during the sweltering Dubai summer, and getting stuck in your teeth, your eyes, your hair and anywhere else it pleases.  Then there is the pristine, finely milled, soft mounds that you want to put between your toes.

The island of Mahe in the Seychelles is home to the glorious second kind, and boasts lush vegetation, coral reefs, giant tortoises, and all the fresh fish you can eat - a winning combination for a three day weekend if I've ever heard one!  So with map, a rental car reservation and dive bag in hand we traveled to the African island, who still is buzzing about their recent visit by Will and Kate.

So this Matt and Kate decided to see what the island had to offer in 72 hours!

It all starts with a map of the island.  Stick with me kid, I'll take you places...

First stop the Victoria fish market, ETA: 7:30am - still early enough to see some good stuff!

The waters off the Seychelles produce a bountiful catch.  Everything from huge yellow fin tuna, to rays, white tip reef sharks, and even a hammerhead were on offer for dinner that night.  The scene can be a little graphic with so much carnage about, but the skill in which these fish are cleaned, filleted and sold is truly impressive.  See you guys on the flip-side: my dinner plate!

Next stop the National Botanical Gardens to check out all the lush vegetation, and these guys - the giant tortoise.  They were pretty friendly, abeit much scarier looking than I remember from the Philadelphia zoo.  Matt decided they looked hungry and, naturally, hopped into their enclosure to feed them - he loves developing nations (no oversight).  Slowly, but surely, a feeding "frenzy" ensured.

In Victoria for lunch later in the afternoon, we walked by a Barclays bank.  Matt then wonders, "I think I can go in and sign my Knot Standard incorporation papers here."  What?  Sure enough, the teller pulls the file and Matt initiates the account.  I ask Matt if this was on purpose, and he tells me that he only remembered this small fact as he saw the bank and thought it might be convenient to take care of the details while he was "in town".  Typical.
You have such a dirty mind!  Whatever you are thinking, you should know that this nut, the Coco der Mer is the largest nut in the world and the pride of the Seychelles, the only place where it grows naturally.  Legend has it that sailors, who first saw the unique double coconut floating in the sea, imagined that it resembled a woman's disembodied buttocks. This association is reflected in one of the plant's archaic botanical names, Lodoicea callipyge in which callipyge is from Greek words meaning 'beautiful rump'.  (It's also there passport stamp - seriously!) 
The top compliment I can give any island?  "This is so Jurassic park".  This outlook from the Morne Seychellois (905m) was just stunning.  I love me some volcanic islands. 
At the summit there is a fantastic smelling tea factory.  Ceylon and camomile are the specialties of the island.

We ended on on the Western side of the island for sunset, at this perfect little stretch of beach called Anse Soleil.  There on this deserted piece of coast we found the most amazing tree that had taken root right on the beach.  It just screamed PHOTO SHOOT! 
This is what a picture looks like when Matt sets the timer and runs back just in time for the snap.

This is what it looks like when I set the timer and run back to the tree and then realize that Matt's legs are twice as long as mine.  He tries to pull me up when we realize that we are out of time and out of strength to get me on the tree - with the timer looming, I can't think of anything else to do but pose.  Clearly I've seen too much Cirque du Soleil.

How did we take pictures on a deserted beach?  Matt created a tripod out of a piece of drift wood and half a coconut shell.  He started calling it Wilson - should I be worried?

Pegasus on the beach!
We dined at the delicious Lounge 8 who boasts a surprise five course menu nightly - no menus, just fresh ingredients and innovation.  We were greeted with test tubes full of violet flavored champagne - it's purple!  My compliments to the chef. 

Not to be outdone by the local chefs, we decided to try to try our hand at nabbing some of the local catch.  When Matt suggested we go fishing, I was thinking "sitting on the dock of the bay...".  Not so much.  To get the big game you need to travel out, far out into the open ocean.  Then I learned that you need to keep the bait moving to attract the big guys.  So after dropping five lines in the water we proceeded to ride the swells in our little boat.  Just as I felt like I could, ahem, chum the waters happened!  That fantastic sound of line being taken on all FIVE poles.  With four of us grabbing a line, I learned how to fish trial by fire!  My adrenaline was pumping and as I battled my beast (30lbs), as the guys pulled in the other fish one by one.  At the end I was breathless, tired, and (see Matt above) covered in blood.  Had I been fishing, or survived an episode of Dexter?

When you catch a fish you have to drink a beer it's practically a rule, even if it's 9:00am.  Surprisingly Seybrew is really refreshing at that hour.  Especially while navigating 10 foot swells.
The booty!  We actually caught 8 but gave two away to a few fisherman along the way (whose row boats weren't going to brave the open ocean - great to see someone's face when you hand them dinner for their family), we brought in 200lbs of yellow fin tuna!

After catching some big fish, we decided to give some of the little guys some love.  Snorkeling in the marine park was amazing!  Here is just a sampling of what we saw.

We worked up a pretty good appetite fishing and snorkeling, so naturally we had to have some of our delicious fresh fish for lunch!  Matt grabbed one by the tail and walked it into the lobby (dripping blood from it's mouth) of the hotel and said simply "I need a chef".  The result follows.  3 hours old - freshest fish I've ever had! So delicious...
All good things must come to an end.  In this case, our trip ended well, with some challenges.  As we packed up to head to the airport with 6 hours to spare, we thought we would stop off at a local beach to see the sunset one last time on the island.  Five minutes after we got into the car, I heard the dreaded 'whomp, whomp, whomp...' of a flat tire.  Pulling off to a local gas station, Matt wasted no time whipping out the doughnut (which was literally the size of a doughnut...) and changing the tire.  I was impressed!  We were on our way having spared just 20 minutes.  Then: whomp, whomp, whomp...what the...?  Yup.  10 minutes down the road, the new tire was flat!  This had to be a joke.

Now we were in trouble.  We had NO workable tire.  So after calling roadside assistance and waiting another 20 minutes, a representative showed up and upon learning that we wanted to drive more than 100 yards, decided that he couldn't in good conscious give us a new spare and therefore gave us the tire off of his car!  Two Kias, 3 tires later, 90 minutes elapsed and a missed sunset formed our send off!

But in island time you are never too late! So in that case we were right on time for our flight!

If you get a chance to go to the Seychelles, just 'sey' yes!

1 comment:

jimdad said...

Thanks for a great tour -

You may have set the record for the most amazing things done in a single weekend, and in such a beautiful place!