Sunday, May 12, 2013


We feel unbelievably fortunate to be able to travel to so many exotic places, be they a tropical paradise or a rocky get-away from the frenetic life we live day-to-day. Yet again I’ll be sharing snapshots of our latest, greatest, traipsing around the world.

This time we headed for another island country…the Seychelles, located north of Madagascar and south of the equator. Arrived at the islands, and, after a bit of haggling, found a taxi to take us to our hotel, located in an idyllic rocky location. First, the drivers had to figure out WHERE the place was – bit of discussion on that – and then the price – more discussion. Finally found us on our way south, Japanese style; they drive on the left and the roads are very twisty and narrow with drop-offs and rain gutters. We wind our way around the rocky coastline until we come to our right turn…STRAIGHT up the hill. 
Relaxing on the verandah...
They don’t seem to believe in switchbacks, at least not for driveways – probably cheaper to build a short road so…it was up. The driver took one look at the road and decided to back up on the main road (thank goodness there was no traffic) and take a running start. We still fishtailed a bit but made it to the top…and then wondered exactly where the top was!

The residence was perched on top a rather large granite outcrop with a stunning view of the coastline. The main home, with a wide porch that served as the breakfast dining room, was completely open with a spectacular view of beach and tropical vegetation. The breeze wafting through the tables made it a wonderful and calming place to sit, sipping tea, and taking pictures. The larger cabins were in a chalet type building with stunning views and roomy time...
Warm water - perfect for lounging!
Our cabin was a bit further down the hill, without the complete view but still the horizon was dominated by the water and lush vegetation. The night view, however, was gorgeous. With so few neighbors and little ambient light, the sky was alive with shooting stars. It was delightful to sit out in the warm breezes, sipping tea, or stronger stuff in Jeff’s case, and watching the nightly display. 

Fortunately the island of Mahe is small – we circumnavigated the thing a number of times! We explored numerous beaches, walking along some of them, getting soaked on others, sunbathing at times and frequently dining overlooking them. 
The ocean in this area has a lot of limestone, giving the water here a distinctive and intense turquoise blue color, setting off the landscape to create gorgeous scenic shots – my pictures hardly do them justice. The ocean, the flowers, the scents - all gorgeous!

Eden Island

Eden Island from
We knew that the next day we would be meeting up with Cheryl and Dennis, two friends we teach with, and moving to a condo on Eden Island. I must admit, my first view of Eden Island did NOT give me a warm feeling. Although I distinctly hated the driveway to our first place (fortunately there was a back road in that was not quite so steep), Eden Island looked like condo city – packed on top of each other – with no personality. 
Dinner with Cheryl and Dennis
While it was a bit impersonal and very “ritzy” for the wealthy, it turned out to be a great find.
We had a two bedroom condo with a huge back porch overlooking one of the many marinas. Now a beach view would have been nicer but the water was still a gorgeous blue and the sunrises were stunning coming over the far mountains and reflecting on the still water. Out front we had a view of towering mountains that looked like they were quite close – though it turns out they were actually on the next island over. 
It was indeed a gorgeous location for spectacular sunsets and interesting panoramas as the shadows crept over the buildings. The amenities were outstanding; numerous pools for swimming, a gym, our own golf cart for moving around (cars were not allowed), a rather pricey grocery store, and a mall with numerous restaurants and shops.
Fortunately, Victoria, the capital, was very close and hosted a farmer’s market almost daily. We roamed the stalls, stocking up on some great veggies and fresh fish to cook on the BBQ grill. While we all love eating out, it was nice to have the option to cook at home – and MUCH cheaper! 
Indiana Jeff...and a pay phone?
It is amazing how expensive the restaurants are! We went to a seafood buffet one night – not for me, I might mention. No one thought to ask what the price was…$75 per person! Quite a shock when the bill came but it did include lobster and other foods. We were much more cautious after that!

The local islands

We chartered a boat and headed out to some of the local islands one day. The day was gorgeous; clear blue sky with wispy clouds, though not enough to give you any shade; heavenly breeze, if you’re on the right side of the boat; and gorgeous scenery, visible from anywhere. The boat had a glass bottom so we were able, at choice reefs, to look through to see the reef below and the fish darting about. I must admit that the view from the boat was much better than the pictures show!
We had a young boy, Mohamed, with us on the trip. At one point we stopped and one of the men gave us all a piece of bread…to feed the fish. The fish were well trained – they hovered by the boat and attacked the piece of bread en mass! Reminded me of the eagles eating the chicken skins when we traveled in Malaysia.
We stopped at a private island named Moyenne. (check out this great web page all about the island and the man who bought it.) It has been owned by various people over the years, but is one of the few not owned by billionaires, wealthy Arab families or members of the Russian oligarchs. Over time a trail has been developed around this island and, for a nominal fee, you can hike around it, enjoying the pristine views, checking out the tiny graveyard next to an even smaller chapel, and walking through the tiny museum.
We were met on the trail by a slow moving tortoise…they have the right-of-way. It wasn’t a long walk but after sitting in the boat all morning, it was nice to get out and stretch our legs…especially since the men were cooking a very filling lunch for us over on the next island.
The afternoon was spent snorkeling along a gorgeous reef. The highlight was the opportunity to see two sea turtles; one swimming past me – I followed him for a bit – and one feasting on the reef.
One time I really wish I had a good underwater camera. There is an amazing number of fish living among the reefs – need to get a good underwater camera to record some of these fabulous animals.

Heading to the outer islands

Island travel

The Donaldson’s, one of our ASD principals and family, were also lounging and celebrating in the Seychelles so we took a trip out to join them on the beach at their hotel. We got to check out la Tortugas – a small enclosure with a few tortoises inside, including one that was quite small. The kids were having a wonderful time out in the ocean – definitely some mermaid blood I’d guess. 

We had planned on taking a trip out to the islands together but, alas, the seas were too rough and our trip was cancelled!  We, however, had one more day than they did so we used the ferry to head out to Praslin island - and hour and a half away through rough seas (bigger boat - it made it fine). Now originally, we were going to check out a famous huge coconut tree on Praslin island with quite unusual coconuts! They are double coconuts with an interesting resemblance to the female body. There was a lamp in our room that I really wondered about (not knowing about these coconuts). While we never saw one close's a link you can use to check it out. 
Happily, however, we decided to head over to La Digue island first. What a great choice.

La Digue Island

Main Street...where everyone rides bikes

La Digue is, indeed, still a touristy island and I know the culture has been changed but it has the most personality. The port is just a small dock, the people are, of course, waiting at the end to get you to rent a bike, there are tons of tiny restaurants, shops, and stores spread down the Main Street – really, the only street going east and west. We dutifully did rent our bikes and headed out to explore the island.
We discovered a small park area that we explored for a while. There are a lot of local crafts available – some spendy but some quite gorgeous. The wooden ships were unbelievably detailed and appropriately expensive! We wandered through the park checking out the tortoises and finally ending up on the stunning beaches. The huge rocks, the turquoise waters, the blue skies, wispy clouds; absolutely stunning. We wandered through the various beaches around the island, weaving through the rocks, splashing through the warm waters, watching the numerous wedding couples. There was a small, rustic chapel nestled in the rocks and apparently couples set up times for their wedding – we saw at least 4 couples while we were there.
Island resort...just waiting
This is the island we would come back to, the island to stay on and explore more fully. We all wished we had discovered it early in our trip, instead of our last day!