The Seychelles are a beautiful collection of tropical islands off the East coast of Africa and offer the hungry explorer forested limestone mountains for hiking, beautifully soft sanded beaches for tanning and crystal clear waters for some spectacular snorkeling. And, of course, close encounters with giant tortoises.
I am huge lover of South East Asia for the similar qualities it has to offer, but two things that stand out in comparison are; the lack of ‘let’s-get-so-drunk-and-pass-out’ party atmosphere and … there is no rubbish! The streets, the beaches and the sea are pristine. Once while snorkeling along a drop off in North West Bali, I lifted my head to find myself in a school of used disposable nappies.
A good friend and I were touring around the islands and caught a ferry from Mahe to La Digue and later Praslin. After a week on Praslin we checked the return ferry trip times and felt they were either too early or too late (we were on holiday after all), so instead decided to catch one of the small charter planes at a more reasonable hour.
The guidebook boasted frequent flights and with the carefree and relaxed attitude of the Seychellois, we figured we’d merely turn up to the airport and jump on the next available flight.
We re-laid our plan to our glamorous and slightly eccentric South African landlady upon check out and she looked a little concerned.
‘I’ve never heard of anyone just turning up at the airport before, but it will be better than getting the ferry this time of year, they don’t call it the Vomit Comet for nothing!’
While we were in Praslin the monsoon season had hit, churning up the beautiful blue seas as well as the stomachs of any unfortunate ferry passengers now sailing on the endearingly dubbed, ‘Vomit Comet.’
We arrived at the small, spotlessly clean and quiet airport and were met by a large Seychellois woman sitting behind the check-in desk. She wore wide, thick-rimmed glasses, had her hair pulled back tight and was devoid of any sense of humour.
Without looking at us, she sighed a deep agitated sigh when we made our request for 2 tickets back to Mahe on the next available flight. With a heavy finger she slowly punched her keyboard and began clicking her mouth and shaking her head, the way that Africans do.
‘Why you no book online?’ she barked in her heavy Seychellois accent.
‘There was no internet at the home-stay,’ we lied and smiled at her hairpiece as sweetly as possible.
‘Hm,’ she snorted and after a few more casual keystrokes and a lot of head shaking, ‘this flight full. You should book online. Go in da restaurant and see what I can do. Why no book online?’
The latter was a rhetorical question and without looking at us, we were dismissed as she waved through the couple behind us.
It was 11.45am and we both sat in the deserted restaurant overlooking the palm lined runway and the mountains beyond. We sat in large cane chairs by the open window and enjoyed the mid day breeze bringing in the afternoon storm.
Neither of us were hopeful of making the next flight, due to leave in 15mins and enjoying our surroundings decided to order breakfast and 2 ice cold ‘Seybrews’. Once the charming waitress had disappeared into the kitchen with our order, my friend went to check on the status of our tickets.
Just as the waitress appeared with steaming plates of scrambled eggs my friend burst into the restaurant shouting ‘There are 2 seats, but we must go now!’ We danced agitatedly around the waitress, downing our Seybrews, as she daintily wrapped up our breakfast in take away containers - The word ‘Urgent’ does not have a place in the Seychelles.
‘What took you so long?’ barked the woman at the check in desk, as we scrambled towards her fumbling with our luggage, passports and take away containers. We smiled as innocently and sweetly as possible, but to no avail.
‘Give me your luggage, it had better be under 20 kilos!’ she ordered.
It weighed 21.5kg. Our pleading smiles grew larger, causing tears to well in our eyes. The woman sat back down, shaking her head. She tightened her lips and without moving her head, raised her eyes up at us.
‘I’m doing you a lot of favours today!’ she bellowed disapprovingly before handing over our boarding passes. With a sigh of relief and many ‘Thank you’s’ we ran for the departures.
‘Have a nice flight,’ she called after us, but there was no love in it.
After squeezing onto the small 16 seater plane with our fellow 8 other passengers, we dined on our breakfast; possibly the best sausage and scrambled egg I’ve ever had.