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Published: December 7th 2018
For a four day holiday weekend in Dubai (celebrating commemoration day and National Day on Dec 2nd), I decided to take a break and do something fun. While I love the Christmas markets in Europe, I wanted to go somewhere close and somewhere new. I considered Cyprus, Greece, but finally settled on Seychelles. I am happy with my decision. For most, particularly in this region, Seychelles means a resort on white sandy beaches, fruity drinks while sunbathing, and without a care in the world. I wanted this too, but I also wanted to experience the culture of a new country. Cerf Island Marine Resort seemed to meet all of my requirements, so I booked.
The resort had someone, Ron, meet me at the airport where he drove me to Eden Island to catch a boat. From the moment we arrived, I felt like I was in tropical paradise. The airport was small, and our Boeing 777 pulled up to the terminal, with a dramatic rock backdrop behind. The only issue I had with the airport was customs - you have to remember you're on a tropical island and everything moves a bit slower. Quite a bit. The Seychellois are a
mixture of typically African and European ancestry. Their main language is Creole, but they almost all speak English and French. Ron said his father is Chinese and his mother African, and that most Seychellois have mixed ancestry. Friday / Saturday - Cerf Island Marine Resort
Anyway, Eden Island is the only place in the Seychelles where foreigners can buy land. It has a more Western feel, of course, but it was from here we set off to Cerf Island. At the dock, I met with Prakash who took me to registration, offered me a ginger cold tea with lemon while checking in. He and the manager went over the amenities, meals, and excursions. Then I was taken in a golf cart, up and up and up, to my hillside villa with a view of the ocean. Or, the bay actually. Perfect direction for sunsets. The room was large with timber and bamboo construction, a huge balcony, and a large outdoor bathroom with shower and jacuzzi - my favorite. From my balcony, you could see a few giant fruit bats flying or nesting in the trees. There were also lizards, geckos, in my room and bathroom - definitely in
a more park-like jungle setting. The first day, I walked around the very hilly resort, often very steep, and up to the helipad near the top of the island, with great views out to the actual ocean and all the beautiful little islands of the marine reserve. Amazing. Paradise.
For my first dinner (my breakfast and dinner were included), I had fish with garlic, delicious grilled vegetables and rice. A very good first meal. I went to my room, after getting a cola for my duty free Takamaka spiced rum and sat in my jacuzzi for a couple of hours. So a great start to the holiday.
Saturday, I decided to relax at the resort, maybe travel around the island. Breakfast was an omelette, bacon, and mango juice. There was supposedly a hiking trail over the center of the island, but there seemed to be no easy way to get there. But it was a nice a little walk through the intertidal area, a lot of private residences or small hotels / B&B's. It was very peaceful. I tried to go snorkeling with the provided resort equipment, but the mask kept leaking and the water was very churned,
I imagine from the previous day's rain. So, I hung out on the beach, read a book, swam, and waited for my afternoon massage. My masseuse was from Bali and she really dug in; I had bruises on my arms. Not exactly relaxing, but I felt good later. Dinner, more seafood - fish kebabs I believe and another serving of those amazing vegetables. Sunday - Snorkeling in the Marine Reserve
For the second day, Sunday, I had planned to take a boat to Moyenne Island, where the giant tortoises live and you can wander around and pet them. I was supposed to leave at 10:30, but while I was sitting by the pool reading at 9:30, the concierge told me that there was engine trouble and the boat could not take me; since there is no dock there, you have to have a special boat and wade to the island itself. I was bummed, and he asked what I would like to do instead. Since it is Sunday, very little was going on in Victoria and I had just decided to ask to arrange a driver to take me around Mahe, when he informed me that a glass
bottomed boat tour could pick me up and he would be very near Moyenne Island and would drop me there if I wanted. So, I figured, why not.
When the boat arrived, I saw three western guys and the crew, that was it. I got on the boat and the guys turned out to be Americans in the Coast Guard - and that I had picked the right boat. I did. It was a great day. We started out with Captain Mike giving us a little history and cultural information. We saw other boat tours, but were able to stop and snorkel for a bit. It was interesting to see the coral and all kinds of fish, but so far, I was like, meh, I've seen better. But the water was definitely clearer than the day before, so I was happy. Then he told us he would take us to Cerf Island for lunch, which kind of bummed me out - I was trying to get away - but it turns out he took us to secluded beach on the other side of the island for his own bbq. While the guys and I sipped beer and got to
know each other, Captain Mike and his "sons" (I don't know that they were for sure or not) knocked down some coconuts and got the grill going.
Capitan Mike started us with an "older" coconut he sliced up to munch on, and then slightly younger coconuts with water inside which we added some rum to. We all were in awe of where we were. Paradise. Then, lunch was served, and it was by far, by far, the best meal of my trip. Fresh fish (shoemaker), chicken, rice, and grilled veggies, with a little sauce. Yum! After more relaxing, we got back in the boat and toured a little around. Capitan Mike dropped us off near Long Island; while the tide is low, you can walk along a sand spit to Round Island, where he met us again. Just a great day. Then, we travelled near Moyenne Island, but did not stop. They said we could snorkel again, but we were a bit tired. However, how many times can you do this, so we hopped back in, and was it sooooo worth it! Tons of fish and the coral here was much healthier than our first spot, so I kept
my head down and enjoyed the experience. I followed one of his "sons" who led us around the reef near Moyenne Island for over an hour. I got to see a black tip reef shark. Then I saw a stingray in the distance. And finally, I saw two giant sea turtles! They were soooo beautiful (and I got my turtle / tortoise fix).
Afterwards, we cruised around the park area a little more, but they soon dropped me off at my resort for my 5pm body scrub with Suri. She did this with coffee grounds, and of course she had no mercy. I took I think three showers that night, and still found coffee grounds in random places the next morning. But my skin felt great! Sunday - Victoria
My last day, I had asked if the free scheduled ride to Victoria left at 9 am and it was confirmed. Apparently, they took this as I definitely wanted to go and held the boat for me. I was not sure I wanted to. It had rained, hard, all night long, and it was overcast and sprinkling still. I was content to sit in my jacuzzi or by
the pool with my book all day. But, at the last second, I figured, why not and took the boat to Victoria. This is the smallest world capital at about 26,000 people. While it is pretty small, it is kind of the center of everything, so very busy.
I walked down to the National Botanical Gardens, where I got to see a coco de mer tree, the only country in the world they grow, but on another island - here was just a sample. There were quite a few cruise tours, from the giant cruise boat in the harbor, mostly made up of older German people. The tour was in English, so every now and then I stopped to listen - at one point, a coconut dropped from a tree near the guide. She just laughed. I walked through the Japanese garden, but was immediately set upon by a million mosquitos, so I fled. I made my way to the tortoise pen, along with everyone else. I caught a glimpse, but ultimately, I did wish I could have gone to Moyenne.
Next, I walked back to town, past some market stalls selling touristy stuff. But my map said
the market was elsewhere, so I kept moving. At the main intersection, is a clock tower and female traffic police directing the cars. At one corner is the National History Museum, but it appeared to be closed; it had some exhibits outside. Across the street, was a restaurant with a balcony wrapped around the corner. There was no electric, so cash only, but I got a cold water and more rum and coke and just relaxed to enjoy the view. I stayed for about an hour, then tried to find the actual market, more in town. And it was different. Kind of an enclosed building area with fruit vendors, trinkets, clothes, etc and a small bistro upstairs. More authentic. And a little intimidating. I bought some souvenirs and moved on. Up the street to the edge of town, according to my book, was an artist house which had the works of George Camille, a local artist. It was a very nice venue and I bought a print of his; it was not cheap, and it was reproduced, but I do like it. I made my way back into town and more souvenir shops - bought a beach towel and another
painting - a small canvas one-of-a-kind this time, also a local artist. I had basically 5 hours in this small city and it was honestly kind of hard to fill the time. I went back to the stalls, got more trinkets for my nieces, found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant for a beer and snack, then slowly made my way to the docks, passing the Liberty Monument on the way. At the dock is a Chinese restaurant, where I got rice and roast chicken with a spicy chili lime sauce - it was ok, like $3. I waited on the deck for 2:30 and finally it was time to go back.
I went to my room, rushed to pack, raced to my last spa appointment, and tried to relax and enjoy my facial. It was only supposed to be 45 minutes, but it was over an hour, so I had to rush back to finish packing then raced down to reception for checkout. My boat transfer was scheduled for 6:45 and I just made it. Ron picked me up again on Eden Island and to the airport.
Again lots of island-time waiting at check in, security, everything. Got my seat
and was so incredibly fortunate to sit next to a couple who apparently did not have enough love-making during their vacation and kept me awake the whole time feeling each other up and kissing each other sloppily. Gag. Then I waited for an hour for my bag, which the check in forced me to check, despite it being small. So, I got home at 4 and had a meeting scheduled last minute at 8am with one of the head guys of our company. I need another vacation already!!!
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