First Impressions of Paradise

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Africa » Seychelles » Mahé
May 17th 2007
Published: May 17th 2007
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My first view of VictoriaMy first view of VictoriaMy first view of Victoria

The yellow circle on the right is St. Paul's cathedral which will be my main base for the internship. The circle on the left is the Bishop's house where I'm staying, about a 10 minute walk from "downtown". Over the saddle on the other side of the island, the water you can see is near Beau Vallon, the main beach, about 6 km away from Victoria.
I like this place already! The people I’ve met so far have been very warm and welcoming. When I met Tiana at the airport, it was like being greeted by an old friend, finally meeting after two months of exchanging emails. Along with Tiana were Canon John and Rev. Christine. Christine will be my supervisor for the summer, and I can tell already that she’s well organized. One of the first things she did was give me a schedule of what I’ll be doing and when I’m preaching for the first two weeks of my stay. Already I can say that things are off to a good start. During the preparation for the trip you get to hear all the horror stories of how things can go wrong on an international internship. The worst story was of an intern who was to be working as a chaplain at a hospital. When she arrived, the hospital staff wanted to know what sort of doctor she was - they thought she was there for a medical residency, and the hospital had no need for a chaplain! But for me it looks like there won’t be any mix-ups like that.

For now
Sunrise over Ile Ste AnneSunrise over Ile Ste AnneSunrise over Ile Ste Anne

This is the view I wake up to each morning. Not bad eh! The area around Ste. Anne is a marine reserve with a lots of marine life and great snorkeling.
I’m staying at the Bishop’s house by myself since he’s away until early June. It’s a beautiful, newly renovated house on the mountainside with a great view of the nearby islands and a ten minute walk to the Cathedral in the middle of Victoria.
Yes, I am living in great comfort here. Except for the heat! It’s hot and humid. Now, I’ve been to the tropics before where the temperature was 30 plus degrees with near 100% humidity. But the difference is that here you don’t seem to get any break during the night. Yesterday the temperature reached 33 degrees during the day, and only fell to 29 degrees at night. I go to bed sweating and I wake up sweating. It’s like living in a Bikram yoga room!

One of the first things I noticed about the island was the smell. Because the air is so heavy and moist, it seems to hold an amazing array of smells. Sweet flowers, creole cooking, diesel fumes, mildewed cupboards, sweaty people, the fish at the market, the smell of the ocean - wherever I go, the variety of odours is overwhelming.

On Wednesday I was invited to dinner at Tiana’s parent’s home. It was a great family gathering, and a wonderful meal. Before supper I was asked if I’d ever been to Africa before. Many times, I replied, as part of my work before I started studying for ministry. “Do the people here consider the Seychelles to be part of Africa?” I asked.

“That’s hard to say,” came the response. The ancestors of most of the Seychellois came to the islands as slaves from Africa starting in the late 18th century. But because they were slaves, there is no record of where in Africa they came from. The African slaves were joined by English and French colonists, and Indian and Chinese workers to form an interesting mix of people with roots in three continents. Tiana’s family are more recent immigrants from Madagascar, and their roots reach back to Malaysia.

Even geology separates the Seychelles from Africa. The Seychelles Islands are in fact their own mini-continent, even though only bits of that continent poke their head above water as granite islands. At one time, the land mass forming the Seychelles was adjacent to the continent of Africa, and India for that matter, but as the great land masses spread, rifts along the sea bed developed which separated the Seychelles first from India, then from Africa and finally from Madagascar, the big island east of Africa.

So it appears that not only ethnically, but also geographically and geologically, the Seychelles is a very unique place on earth.


21st May 2007

The Hudsons send greetings!
Mark, we're thrilled to be able to receive your journal and I'm glad to have "met" your family. What a vibrant bunch! Too bad they weren't with us in Toronto. The Seychelles sound quite interesting with the diverse ethnic mix. May the Lord bless you and give you some wonderful ministry opportunities in that unique setting. Our visas for India just arrived, so we are finally entering our last stages of preparation. Mary is finishing up school, our house is sold, and we'll be moving out from here soon. How hard is it to set up these blogs? Grace and Peace!
21st May 2007

A different summer!
It sounds like you will be spending a summer very different than your last one. I'm very interested to hear your comments and to see the snapshots. I'm looking forward to hearing about your work.
21st May 2007

Bonzour tou bann kanadyen en Sesel
Hi Mark: I read your post about your first impressions and must confess I am jealous. Please say hello to Tiana, Christine, John and all. Are there still tortoises at the Bishop's house? I know you will enjoy your stay in paradise! Make sure you take lots of pictures... John
21st May 2007

Really enjoying reading about your experiences and seeing the photos. Keep them coming!

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