Country 2-0-0. Friends, can you BELIEVE IT? Nope. Neither can I, which is good, because Seychelles is quite an unbelievable place. In a good way. Unlike The Maldives, it’s not just flat flat flat as far as the eye can see: these are volcanic islands (over 100 of ’em) spread out slap bang in the centre of the western Indian Ocean.
Honestly, it was love at first sight. Its vibe: it was Tonga, it was Samoa, it was Fiji… but in the Indian Ocean. Coming out from strict, religion-lovin’, fun-avoiding countries like Sri Lanka, India and Maldives where you are supposed to be in bed (on your own) for 9pm and there are simply no local girls out having a good time, Seychelles was a blast of ice-cool crystal-clear fresh air.
We arrived at Victoria, the capital of the country, around 1pm. Victoria is situated on the east coast of Mahe island (not to be confused with Male’ island in the Maldives). My departure off the ship was filmed by Steve and Amy, a couple from Californ-I-A, who I met at the talk I gave yesterday. Off the gangway, I threw myself on the hallowed ground of the TWO HUNDREDTH COUNTRY of The Odyssey Expedition and rolled around a bit. Probably caused a bit of a scene, but I don’t care. THIS, my friends, was the moment I’ve been waiting for since October 2009 when I first attempted (unsuccessfully) to get to The Seychelles from Diego Suarez in Madagascar, since June 2010 when I attempted (unsuccessfully) to get to The Seychelles from Salalah in Oman and since June 2012 when I first started trying to get across the Indian Ocean from Colombo in Sri Lanka.
Well, what else was there to do but go for a celebratory drink? So Steve and Amy and I headed to The Pirates Arms for a swift half, where I was introduced to the joy of SeyBrew, the local lager, possibly made by the same guys who set up SolBrew in The Solomon Islands. Crisp and cold, I give SeyBrew three thumbs up. Later we took a stroll around Victoria’s beautiful botanical gardens – home to a group of Aldabra Giant Tortoises. And when they say ‘giant’, they mean ‘G-I-A-N-T’. Just one of these Koopa Troopers could eat Mario for breakfast and still have room for Luigi, Yoshi and Peach.
It’s funny, my Plan X, had Costa not allowed me on the ship, was to take a yacht from Nosy Be in Madagascar to the Aldabra Islands in order to ‘tick off’ The Seychelles. The Aldabra Group are a protected wildlife sanctuary and you need special permission to get there… and they are home to over 100,000 of these Giant Tortoises: a staggering number. I can only hope I live long enough to do that trip for real.
Later we jumped on the bus to the west coast and a place called Beau Vallon, a beach town on the other side of the mountains. The driver drove like his pants were on fire, swinging around them switchbacks like the endings of both Wages of Fear and The Italian Job (neither of which ended well for those on board), but we (thankfully) got there in one piece. We arrived just in time to watch the sunset and discover just how amazingly helpful and generous with their time the people of The Seychelles (the Seychellois) really are: we were escorted down to the beach, the music guys who were on the quayside this morning said hello and the owner of the Boat House Restaurant and Bar in Beau Vallon gave us free shots Takamaka Coco-Rum (think marshmallows and coconut – I think I’m in love). We were joined by Ramone and Kelly, a Canadian couple, and the night descended into the usual drunken chaos you’ve come to expect from The Odyssey Expedition, with Steve and Amy supplying more than their fair share of alcoholic delights. Thanks Steve & Amy!!! USA! USA! USA!
The next day I intended on going for a hike up the mountain to help walk off my beer gut from the night before, but unfortunately it was pouring down with rain, so instead I headed down to The Pirates Arms and sought refuge in the company of the internet and beer. On the way there I found a bit of a commotion going on outside the Supreme Courthouse of The Seychelles. Asking around, it transpired that on trial were 10 Somali pirates that The Seychelles navy had caught operating in their waters. Well that’s one in the eye for the old Jolly Rogerers eh? Serves them right for making it next to impossible for me to reach The Seychelles without flying. Oh, and being pirates.
One of best things about The Seychelles was that, despite the rain, everybody I spoke to off the ship absolutely loved the place, many saying it was the highlight of their trip so far. To be honest, it’s one of the highlights of mine. It’s definitely in my top ten destinations in the world I want to return to as soon as possible. Seychelles: worth its wait in gold.
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I was hoping for a title like She Sells Seychelles…
In a dither of anticipation for 201. So many times I thought you’d have to scratch off the maldives and seychelles as lost, so wonderful you did not. Thank-you for sharing your journey with us. You’ve given glimpses of people, places, ships, couches, and bars I could not have imagined, illustrated the forgotten vastness and wonder of our planet, enriched my faith in people, confirmed the senselessness of fear, demonstrated the endurance of love, showed the richness of bravery each time you said goodbye to those you love, and brought a 1000 nights of adventure into my home. I hope you’ll find your way to a book or speaking tour in N. California some time. Congratulations on the 200!
just giving you a bit of a heads up. See if you can get an EGYPITAN VISA once you get to Madagascar, Tanzania, kenya etc. I tell you why.
Wiuth an egyptian visa you can apply for a Sudanese (NORTH) transit visa i Addis Ababa that gives you 2 weeks to get from the Ethiopia/Sudan to Waldi Halfa to get a ferry to Egypt. It might take some time at the sudan embassy in Addis ababa but it should be quick
Thanks Martin, I think that’s exactly what I’ll be doing!! Apparently it takes 2 days for the Sudan transit visa to come through, although these things change all the time! I just hope I don’t get stuck in Addis for six weeks…!
One of the headaches at the moment is that Ethiopia is no longer issuing visas in Nairobi: you have to get them in your home country. Wouldn’t be so bad if there was a way of bypassing Ethiopia, but there simply isn’t. War to the left of me, pirates to the right……!
Wow, so amazing to see the big 2-0-0 at the top of the site! I know you’re probably running low on funds, but I hope you sprung for a celebratory glass of something to mark that momentous occasion. If South Sudan had just waited a few months longer to declare independence, you’d be done by now. (Not to minimize the importance of the South Sudanese independence struggle or anything…)
Hey you stole my brilliant pun! I want royalties! Because I’m sure it was never used by anyone ever before in history!
Naaaaah, I was always gonna call it that (since when have I ever shied away from a good pun?). Great minds obviously think alike!
USA USA USA?
I guess I can buy you with drinks.
Greetings from the Seychelles!
Your post really made me laugh. Especially the bit about the bus driver. You have not really experienced Seychelles until you get a bus ride. I call it our local roller coaster (seeing as we have none). I can imagine your expression while on the bus, simply because I have seen it on so many tourists’ faces.(But bus accidents are a rarity so you were pretty safe)
Nice to know you tasted the awesome local Seybrew and Takamaka Coco and that your experience was such a good one.
Oh and we are granitic (not volcanic) with some coralline islands scattered throughout.
Till next time you are in the Schells!