Ashkeling 2005/6 trip - The Seychelles     Last Updated: 4-Mar-2006

 

30-Dec-05 Dubai to Seychelles

We got out early to the airport. As we checked in, the Emirates counter tried to charge us for being overweight, but we certainly were not. We had enough time to get a second breakfast, and Roswitha asked at the Lebanese food place for the elusive white coffee. They laughed and said that they had it. It basically turned out to be espresso with milk, and did not fit any descriptions that Roswitha got for the white coffee.


The elusive white coffee

Breakfast

The Latha & Suku clan made it in just after the doors closed (there was a problem with the return flights that they tried to sort out), and we had an uneventful five hour flight to Mahe, Seychelles. Lunch on board was Sesame Roasted Duck, Seasonal Salad, Moroccan Chicken or Pan-Fried Salmon, Latte Macchiato Cream Cake (all pretty tasty), and bread, butter, cheese, and chocolate.


Emirates Lunch mostly very good

You can read "Al Emirat" here, right?


Changing landscapes before flying mostly over water


We caught taxis (tourist-priced at ~3x local price- either US$30 or 150 Seychelles Rupees) from the airport on the east coast to our hotel in Beau Vallon, on the northwest coast, about 10 km away. There are official notices all over to only change money at certified sellers, such as banks, hotels, and car rentals. The official rate is 5.25 Rupees to one US dollar. The Seychelles have a currency problem. A guy at a car rental place at the airport offered me 8. Suku's dad spoke to a local guy on his morning stroll, who said that the exchange can typically be found for up to 15 to the dollar. There are guys who hang out at specific places who offer to change money, and ask what rate you're looking for. The best we've heard so far is 10:1. But, we have also found that everyone…ahem…EVERYONE has a friend who can change for you at an official rate. But don't tell anyone, and you never did it. Of course, this is all just theory. And remember: if you want to rent a car or pay for a hotel room, you can only pay with Euros, US Dollars, or credit card, or need to show a receipt for the exchanged money.


Dinner at Sun Resort; pork chops and creole fish

 

31-Dec-05 Seychelles - Check-out dives

In the Seychelles we dove with The Underwater Center; it was just a minute down the road from our hotel in the Coral Strand Resort in Beau Vallon (the largest tourist beach on Mahe, the main island). The shop is small, but efficient. A full-time clerk keeps track of dives and takes payment at the end of the vacation. It is best to register for the dives the day before, but they tended to be flexible. Since we were experienced, we made a special request (to go to Shark Bank) that they agreed to do, but the weather kept us from going. Dive prices were typical (30 Euros + 10 Euros equipment), with discounts for more dives. The equipment was very good, and in excellent shape. BCDs are Sherwood, and regulators are Scubapro. They rinse religiously, and have lockers on shore for your stuff.

There is no dock or jetty in Beau Vallon. We have to suit up in the dive shop, and then walk out with full gear onto the beach, into the surf, and up to the boat. We walk most of the way, with maybe a little swimming near the boat, which is about 50 meters off shore (and an additional 10 meters from the shop). There, we hand our weight belts up to the boat, then the tank, then the BCD and fins. Finally, we climb up into the boat. It's a somewhat tedious way to start a dive, and especially hard in rough water. But one gets used to it after 2-3 dives. When the weather got very bad, they bussed us over the hill to Victoria, where we boarded the boat from a dock in the harbor.


Coral Strand Beach

Heading to the boat before the dive

 

Returning after the dive

 

The boat is a fairly typical outboard boat, with diver benches on each side, racks for the tanks in the center, and a canopy over it. It can take up to 14 divers, and there were typically eight to twelve on a trip. The captain is at the back at a console. They keep a tidy boat. We giant step off the starboard rear, through a gate. Of course, this results in a traffic jam and a wait on the surface, but they actually make it pretty efficient.

The dive masters are all local, and very good. They speak Creole to each other, and like almost all Seychellois, speak fluent English and French. They know their sites, and give a detailed briefing on the way or at the site, including a full review of the dive plan and hand signals. As much as possible, they separate groups by experience. Typically there were two dive masters (from what we saw to be a pool of 4-5), a captain, and sometimes another crew member. They are all very respectful of the realm, which is also not too surprising given that many places are reserves.


Latha's entry

Dive master Dave

Dive masters

Captain Michael

The "Aquarium" is the name given to a pair of coral heads in 14 m of water, just 10 minutes straight out from the beach. There is a mix of hard and soft corals, and many, many small fish. It is impossible to list all of them, but it includes clown fish, damsel fish of many varieties (including near ubiquitous tiny yellow/blue damsels), wrasses, squirrel fish, groupers, grunts, gobies, goat fish, trumpet fish, box fish, and many more. There are also dramatic lionfish, both the red/orange ones and well as black ones. There are tiny pipefish, which are basically straightened sea horses. There are also many scorpionfish, which camouflage themselves incredibly well, and also happen to carry deadly poison in spines in their dorsal fin. If a diver accidentally steps on one, or even touches it with a gloved had, s/he can be dead in about 10 minutes. So, it is very important to look carefully, and then look again before touching anything. Better yet, don't touch anything at all. More benign are the spiny sea urchins, which can still inflict a painful wound it if a spine winds up in your flesh. Basically, stay away from the bottom. The dive was pleasant, if a little on the mundane side.


Worm

Pepper and Salt sea urchin

Sea star

Immature emperor angel fish

Emperor angel fish

Sea star

Scorpion fish (see them both?)

Fishes

Sea star and fishes

Black lion fish

Red lion fish

Squirrel and other fish

Little blue fish on coral

Fan coral

Coral?

Box fish

Little lemon box fish


Fishes and coral

Trumpet fish

Latha and Suku had not dived for a year, and Roswitha's last dive was over 18 months prior, so they did a checkout in the pool first. Their dive went to the Marine Park, where they saw an incredible number of fish, including a white moray eel. Overall, it was an excellent dive, although Suku quickly breathed through his air, and had to come up rather soon.


Group of divers (Photo by Latha)

White moray eel (Photo by Latha)

Suku and Latha

Roswitha (Photo by Latha)

We enjoyed New Year's Eve Dinner at Mahek Indian restaurant at the Coral Strand Hotel. The menu was:

Vegetarian

  1. Subz Kebab Tikki (Exotic vegetable cutlets with mix vegetable and yam)
  2. Saag Paneer (Cubes of fresh cottage cheese in curried mustard spinach)
  3. Dhingri Mattar (Mushroom & green peas toasted in a thick aromatic masala)
  4. Pudina Gobhi Aloo
  5. Dal Moth (Moth dal cooked to perfection and tempered with garlic & tomatoes)
  6. South Indian Raita (A yoghurt accompaniment made with carrots & tempered with mustard & curry leaves)
  7. Tomato Rice (Long grain basmati cooked tangy with fresh tomatoes)
  8. Bikaneri Parantha (A stuffed bread of moong dal paste cooked with various spices)
  9. Ras Ke Phool (A unique dessert of cottage cheese dumplings, khoys cream & reduced milk served chilled)

Non Vegetarian

  1. Chicken Seekh Shaslik (Tender chicken seekh kebabs served with veg)
  2. Ghost Korma Badami (Saffron flavoured boneless lamb in a rich creamy almond gravy)
  3. Mahe Fish Curry (A coconut based spicy fish curry)
  4. Pudina Gobhi Aloo
  5. Dal Moth (Moth dal cooked to perfection and tempered with garlic & tomatoes)
  6. South Indian Raita (A yoghurt accompaniment made with carrots & tempered with mustard & curry leaves)
  7. Tomato Rice (Long grain basmati cooked tangy with fresh tomatoes)
  8. Bikaneri Parantha (A stuffed bread of moong dal paste cooked with various spices)
  9. Ras Ke Phool (A unique dessert of cottage cheese dumplings, khoya cream & reduced milk served chilled)

Each place setting had an English style cracker which held a toy and jokes (Q: Who does not mind interrupting a sentence? A: A convict. Q: What did the cowboy say when his dog fell off the cliff? A: Dawg gone.). We brought a bottle of 1999 Pichon Longueville Bordeaux to enjoy with the dinner. We saw in the actual New Year back at Suku & Latha's hotel room. There was no ball dropping on TV, although a coconut might have blown down outside.


Starters

Main courses

Dessert

 

1-Jan-2006 Seychelles - New Year's - Everything's Closed

Latha and the kids headed to the Le Meridien resort at the west end of the beach for lunch and a swim in the kiddy pool. It is one of the swanky resorts in the area, so she had to financially incentivise a security guy to let them in. We, along with the grandparents, wandered in a little while later. The three might have been tolerable, but the full-scale invasion was not, so they soon asked us to leave. Nicely.

Walking with us at the beach ...... toward the Le Meridien

So, we hung out at the Coral Strand, and played in the surf with the kids. Rekha had a good time on the relative safety of Scott's shoulders, and Radha loved being bounced in the surf by Roswitha. We had a simple lunch there. With the exhausting playing, the kids slept very well that night. (As did Scott & Roswitha.)


Playing with the waves...              (Photo by Suku)

 

...can be soo much fun

Most of the restaurants are closed for January first, proving once again that the Seychelles are not particularly capitalistic. The few remaining restaurants were packed with tourists with no choice but to eat out. Latha made reservations (or, actually was told to come by, although many of their employees had not shown up) at Al Mare, a nominally Italian restaurant which sits on the sea near Baobab (a popular sand-floor pizza & burger joint). We walked in at Al Mare at the appointed time, and the chain-smoking raspy-voiced Brit woman running the place said that she had no record of a reservation. There was a table set up for five, but she said that a hotel had called to reserve; it was not ours. We decided to peruse the overpriced menu while waiting for a table to open. We asked how the crab was prepared, but she grumbled, "Since the staff is down, we're not fooling with that tonight." Overall, she was communicating a bad vibe, and the employees looked unhappy and stressed, so we walked out. We're not sure if the place is dysfunctional, if it was indeed just a bad night, or whether it was some sort of misplaced racism, but we certainly won't try it again.

Baobab was closed, so we walked into Pizza Garden, which was packed (like every open restaurant). The maitre'd said that since we had no reservations, the wait was likely to be an hour or more.

We headed back to the Coral Strand, our fall-back plan. The bistro, too, was packed. We had a hard time getting a dry table, then getting attention; once we did, it was hard to get menus. We eventually got those, but then it was hard to place an order. Finally, the order was in; it did not come until we asked many times. The place was clearly stressed; we could see the wait staff yelling at each other, and many other people were going up and taking stuff, complaining, and trying to get service themselves. The manager finally brought our food out. It was mediocre, but we already expected that.

The main entertainment was watching all the US Navy sailors that had just arrived for a 5-day shore leave.


Al Mare has a great setting, but don't eat here

Waiting for food and service at Coral Strand

Finally - less than great food

 

2-Jan-2006 Seychelles - diving

The morning was bright, clear, and calm, so the dive went to L'Ilot, a tiny spot of an island off the northern tip of Mahe's northern peninsula. Suku, Latha, Roswitha, and Scott dove. It was rumored that a whale shark hung out there, even though it was off season for them. We also swam through the short, narrow dive-through.


Breakfast at Sun Resort

Madagascar Fody very fond of sugar (Who's afraid of Avian Flu?)

 

Dive throughs

 

Latha, Roswitha, and Suku did the mid-day dive at the Aquarium, which was a trip for novices. Part way through the dive, the weather turned. The wind picked up, and clouds rolled in. However, they still had a wonderful dive, with Roswitha's photos to prove it.

By the time Scott hit the dive shop for the afternoon dive, the weather was pretty bad. It was gray, raining, and the waves marched in. It was a bit of a challenge to slog out to the boat. An Italian couple brought their 5-year-old daughter onto the boat as well (she had to be carried out through the surf). The kid was surprisingly comfortable on the rocking boat; we later found out that they had been snorkeling with her in August to see whale sharks. We went out to Sunset Rock (or Rainset Rock, as Scott called it, to the divemaster's great amusement), which is just off the north coast of Beau Vallon bay. Although the waves were high, and the sky was dark and gray, it was a wonderful dive, with lots of lionfish, clams, and surprisingly good visibility.


Boat waiting for Scott

Tough for men?

And here comes the 5 year old

Everyone told us to eat at the Boat House, which has a Creole Buffet. It is said that both tourists and locals eat there. We secured reservations, and by the time we got there, the place was hopping. In fact, many of the dishes were gone, although they did start restocking them. Fresh vegetables are hard to come by (like so many things) in the Seychelles, but the Boat House had a fair number of salads (including cucumber, breadfruit, jackfruit, mango, octopus salad, cabbage, and several others). The buffet is primarily fish (Creole fish curry, grilled tuna steaks, octopus curry), but they also had curried chicken. Sides included breadfruit fries, daal, rice, and vegetable fritters. The wine was French, expensive, mostly nameless, and unexceptional. Desserts included fried bananas, fruit salad, and passionfruit custard. Overall, the place was good, although the value was a bit thin, like most of the tourist restaurants.


Buffet

Grilled fish anyone?

Dessert at the Boat House

 

3-Jan-2006 Seychelles - diving

The weather in Beau Vallon continued to be bad, so we were driven over the hill by van to Victoria harbor, where we met the boat which Jimmy had driven around the northern peninsula. The water was calmer, although the sky was still gray as we sailed out past the airport, the US Navy destroyer docked in the harbor, and a couple of fine-looking yachts. We arrived at Turtle Rock, which just barely pokes out of the surf. At around 18 m, it looks out toward the open Indian Ocean, so it does sometimes have some deep-water fish. We circumnavigated the rock, and had a great dive. Beside the now-common stone and lionfish, and the wide range of regular reef fish, there were also schools of others, including bream, fusiliers, shiny tuna, and extensive clouds of tiny glass fish. A huge hawksbill turtle hangs out there, and we watched it for a while. A 1.5-meter spotted moray competed for our attention with a large spotted stingray.





 

Green Turtle

 

Bonito tuna

Schools of glass fish

Fusiliers


Swimming with the fishes

Scott petting spotted moray eel

Spotted sting ray

Diver and sting ray

The afternoon dive was again out of Victoria, this time to the Pinnacles, another dot of rocks poking up out of the sea. There we saw the usual suspects, plus a white tipped-shark, another turtle, and Scott found his very first octopus by himself.


White tipped shark and red squirrel fish

Scott's first Octopus

The previous evening, Suku was very surprised to run into an investor he knew from New York, so they planned to meet for dinner. Raj was visiting with his family (coming from Nairobi and Sri Lanka), so we met them at the Chinese restaurant at the Berjaya resort.


Dinner at the Berjaya Chinese Restaurant

 

4-Jan-2006 Seychelles - diving and market

In the morning Roswitha and Scott dove again from Victoria, since it was raining cats and dogs in Beau Vallon. In fact, it made no sense to even put on regular street clothes, so we walked to the shop in our wet suits. It rained most of the long and bumpy sail to Dragon's Teeth (a granite bolder grouping visible mostly by the surf it creates). Once they anchored, the boat rolled on 3 feet swells, making for an unstable suiting up and entry. Tony the dive master told us to do the usual: make a backward roll off the boat and then meet at the anchor line 5 m down, since it was very choppy on the surface.

Scott plops in first, and Roswitha thinks, "Why doesn't he swim up to the anchor line?" Then she gets in and tries as hard as she can to stay by the boat, while continuously drifting further away. "Ah, that's why Scott didn't get there." Scott, meanwhile, is at 5 m and pumping away trying to keep up, but drifts farther away. Dave the dive master jumps in, and also realizes that the current is too strong, so he signals to go down. We purge our vests, and drop like rocks to the bottom at about 60 feet. There we hugged the ground to stay put.

The dive was wonderful with several scenes out of a picture book. There are large rocks and crevasses with schools of numerous types of fish in them. We encountered many thermoclines (pockets of cold and warm water), which made for very interesting optical effects and pleasant changes. Although the temperature ranged only from 79° to 81° F, the changes felt like enormous swings. Scott had sucked a lot of air at the initial entry and recovery from it, so, combined with the depth, he had used up much more than Roswitha. Using a trick learned…uh….somewhere, he used Roswitha's octopus (spare regulator) for a few minutes to work off her surplus, and thus extend the dive for both. Dave saw this, and had a moment of panic until we flashed the OK signal.

When we first got to the bottom, Roswitha, the dive's designated photographer (we do need another camera) flicked on the camera and read "No Memory Card" - Scott had stupidly left it in the computer. At least that then was a good omen for seeing great stuff, which came to pass: we saw a whale shark, a pack of killer whales, the Titanic, Jack Nicholson, and a space alien. OK, not really. Roswitha saw a 5-foot white-tipped shark, and Scott found a shelf in the rocks with huge lobster, about eight total including those pointed out by divemaster Dave. We also saw two large brown morays, and a curious manta ray on the ascent.


Scott breathing Roswitha's air

(Photos by Latha)

We later adopted Scott above Roswitha

Divers had scattered into four groups because of the current, so the boat hopped around to pick us up. The boat ride back to Victoria was much shorter and drier than the ride out, although we were exhausted and getting cold. We stopped briefly on the way to watch a trio of chubby porpoises play in the waves.

Exhausted from the morning dive, we skipped the afternoon dive (only Suku went, and he took the camera) and prepared for the night market right at our beach with a good afternoon nap.


Corals (Photo by Suku)

Sea star (Photo by Suku)

Sting ray (Photo by Suku)

Close up (Photo by Suku)

The night market is set up each Wednesday along the stretch between the Coral Strand and Al Mare. People set up booths selling tourist trinkets (bad shell sculptures, things carved from coconut shells, locally made shirts (with sayings like "Bula Fiji"), and so on) and food. The locals are there for the food, like cakes (papaya, mango, banana), grilled fish, sweet-tart mango salad (yummy), cassava, fruit juices, and coconut toddy (a very yeasty and rough fermentation of coconut). There were not many booths, and few visitors, partly because of the rain.


Food Stalls along the street

Mango salad

Rice, curry, plantains

Grilled fish

Dinner found us without reservations at any of the fancy places, so we walked to Baobab, a beach pizzeria with sandy floors. The pizza was like most of the others here (gee, we've eaten lots of them), and the salad was basically some shredded lettuce. The smoked fish, served like carpaccio, was quite tasty. Service was one of the best we have had in the Seychelles to date, and it was quite reasonably priced.


Lasagne

Pizza, salad, ceviche

 

5-Jan-2006 Seychelles - diving at Turtle and Harrison Rocks

Although the weather was a bit better, it was still drizzling in the morning, so the dive was again out of Victoria. Roswitha and Scott did the morning dive at Turtle Rock (again), and it was very pleasant. The seas were calm, and visibility was good. We saw a ray as we descended, a 1 m white-tipped shark, one cleaner shrimp which posed with an octopus in the background, and all of the usual fish.

After a quick lunch at our hotel's snack shop (fish & chips, burger), we headed back out with Latha for the afternoon dive. It was again out of Victoria, at Harrison's Rock. (We never got an answer of who Harrison was.) Sights: a small turtle, a moray, some more shrimp, and weird egg cases.


Three clams

Sea urchin in clam shell

Shell down side up

... and right side up

Spotted fish

Puffer fish

Moorish Idol

Sweet Lips

Where is Nemo?

Smiling Fish (frontal)

Three corals

Coral

Red coral

Staghorn coral

Six corals and little b/w fish

Green/Black coral

Green, blue, and white coral

Soft coral?

White coral

Egg cases

Brittle star around coral

Cleaner shrimp and worm

Cleaner shrimp and coral

Sea star

Pincushion sea star

Sting ray with cleaner fish

Ringed moray hiding

White moray and fishes

Dive master Tony

Scott

Latha

Roswitha and Latha

La Scala is one of the fine restaurants in Bel Ombre, just next to Beau Vallon. They serve Italian food. We started with a greek salad, pomodoro caprese, and ceviche. The main course was a filet au mutard and a fish filet with capers and anchovies. For dessert we enjoyed crepes suzette. We had brought along a bottle of Mouton Cadet and some lousy red plonk. It all was very tasty and a good time was had by all.


Coconut, and bread and butter

Greek Salad, Caprese, and Ceviche

Mustard steak and fish filet

Flambeed desserts

Crepe Suzette

Citronella tea

 

6-Jan-2006 Seychelles - A little drive

"TOURIST!" screams the Mini Moke car we rented for a bit of exploration. Most people know exactly who is driving, and either get out of the way or take complete advantage. With that cloud surrounding us, we drove over the hill all the way to Victoria, 3 km. Other cars honked at us frequently, no doubt mocking us. Victoria uses the parking coupon system (buy a coupon, and when you use it, mark the time you parked), so we had to buy some. Eight stores later, Scott finally found some. (We are still not convinced that they are actually necessary.)



Car now secure - unless someone takes the coupon out from under the windshield wiper - we walked to the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke fish market. The market was supposedly started as a touristy thing, but it has since grown to be a real market. We were a bit late for the bulk of the fish, but there were still bonito and barracuda, as well as many vegetable and spice stands. Many things seemed to be sold in somewhat standard measure, like small handfuls of chiles or piles of four mangoes.








We then threw another parking coupon onto the Moke and went hunting for the History Museum. It was not where the map said it was, so we instead ate at Sam's. Roswitha ordered a French salad, and I ordered the Piri-Piri Chicken (extra hot) with salad instead of fries. They came back and said that they could not do the French salad, so she changed to the Caesar's salad. They came back and said that they could not do that, so she ordered the Creole fish. They then came back and said that they could not do the salad substitution because their vegetable supplier had not come, so were fries OK? The Creole fish tasted old, which Roswitha had noticed with it at another place; it seemed to be something about the seasoning. The Piri-Piri chicken was tasty, although not very hot.


Our eventual meal at Sam's

It turned out that we were now close to the museum, which had been relocated to the National Library building. I took a picture of the founding stone which had been carved in Europe, and dropped off in the Seychelles. They said that I was not allowed to take a picture of it, but if I wanted to shoot a photo of Roswitha standing next to it, that was OK. The museum described the discovery - at least three drive-bys were noted (Arab traders, the Portuguese, and the French) before anyone bothered to stop - and the history through WWII. Once it was settled, it was used as a dropping ground for sick slaves. The French surrendered it to the British about seven times before the British took a real interest.


Founding stone

Stained glass windows...

... in a church ...

... we passed

Since we did not yet have a hotel once we came back from our live-aboard, we decided to see if we could find something. We drove down the East coast to Pointe du Sel and the Fairyland hotel, where we secured a room, and met Charles, the owner. On the way back, we stopped in at the Arts & Crafts center. They were indeed making things there, and some was rather cute. The most impressive shop was one which built scale ship models.

From there we drove around the northern end of the island. There was not much there, but we stopped off for a beverage at the Sunset Beach Resort, and posh place a bit north of Beau Vallon.


Arts and Crafts Center

Mini Moke from behind

Sail ship models

View from Fairy Land

Sunset Resort

View from Sunset Resort (no children allowed)

This was Suku & Latha's last night before their 1 AM flight. We had a last pizza at Baobab, and someone we had met was surprised to hear about Fairyland; she said to watch out for Charles. We shall see.


Diving attempts

Suku's parents with grand kids

Dancing Queeeeen! (and ABBA)


7-Jan-2006 to 13-Jan-2006
We spent a week on the Sea Shell. (see next page)



14-Jan-2006 Seychelles - to Fairyland

With goodbyes and keep-in-touches, everyone departed from the Sea Shell to shore. Once we teased our rental car into appearing, we ran a few errands, drifted through the sad little natural history museum (motto: "No photos! It might show people how lousy we are."), and docked into the Pirate Arms for lunch. Seen from outside, it looks a bit like the tourist place in town, but many locals filled the large restaurant. We discovered one reason: there is a busy and well air-conditioned casino in the back. It was also reasonably priced and quite tasty. Roswitha had shrimp in garlic sauce plus a mango & guava juice, and Scott had a banana & bacon sandwich. Yes, it was listed on the menu.


Scott in front of museum with - now extinct - Dugong

Lunch at Pirates Arms
 

What can be bad about a currency that shows plants, shells and parrots?

Within a few minutes of getting rolling, the air conditioner in our rental jeep failed. Ah, well - it was too good of a deal anyway. We headed over the spine of the island to the less touristed west & southwest side where the towns and hotels are more sparsely sprinkled. We dropped into the Michael Adams gallery (one of the island's most well-known artists) and stumbled into the Pineapple Collection Boutique. The former's art is unique and intricate, and the latter's souvenirs and such were among the better we've seen. But we did not get anything from either, although the sea shell dancing girl sculpture was tempting.

We checked into the Fairyland hotel on the east coast, and were greeted by Charles and the girls he called his angels, who carried our lighter bags upstairs. After a welcome drink a quick shower, and an attempt to close down the room for mosquitos (it has no screens and most windows don't actually close) we drove back to the southwest side to Chez Batista, a rustic restaurant overlooking the small bay of Anse Takamaka. Rustic, in this case, means that it is open to the sea, has sand floors, and is expensive. The restaurant is part of a hotel which actually looks pleasant and cozy. On one of the more remote parts of the island (30 minutes from Victoria!), it seems to be a relaxing hideaway. Just before we got settled, a small yellow boat drove onto the beach, and was dragged up a few feet. A group of guys hauled flopping fish (plus one small white-tipped shark) out of the boat and onto shore. With a small group of gawking tourists (including us!) surrounding them, they quickly killed the fish and strung them onto palm frond rope, sorting them by type. Inspired by this sight, Roswitha ordered a shark steak with Creole sauce, and I had to settle for pork chops. We also had an avocado salad and drinks made from coconut milk and passion fruit juice.


View from our room (L'Ilot)

Our room

The balcony

Beach below our balcony

Birds in the morning

Beach at Fairy Land

Boat around the point

Chez Batista Beach

Fresh catch

Sorting

Fish

Bundle of fish

Restaurant at Chez Batista

Drinks

Avocado salad starter

Mains

Moon from our balcony at Fairy Land

 

15-Jan-2006 Seychelles - Jardin du Roi

Surprised that we still had any blood left, we awoke to a clear day, and a view all the way out to Praslin, La Digue, and L'Ilot (another one than we dove at, just like there are two Round Islands), and a few other distant islands. Breakfast was a treat with lots of fresh topical fruit.



In a high valley, up a narrow cement road lies Le Jardin du Roi, which is an old plantation and spice garden still in the same family, now the fifth generation. They have vaguely suggestive map of the plants for you to look at as you wander around. More than fifty endemic and exotic species are identified, and numerous more are not. Nutmeg trees are all over the hilly grounds, as are vanilla and water apple (a crunchy, rosey fruit nothing like an apple). The garden has a pair of Coco de Mer, the requisite tortoises, a small banana orchard, and even durian and carambola (star fruit) trees.


Royal Garden

Nutmeg

Banana blossom

Star fruit (Carambola)

Triplett Coco de Mer (~40 kg)

Female Coco de Mer tree

CdM - one leaf makes a tent
There is also a restaurant which serves much of their produce, so we went there for their special Sunday lunch. Among the offerings: When we complained that the curries were not hot enough, they gave us a chile sauce made from the chile plant which grows at the base of the avocado tree in front of the restaurant. As we ate, a downpour started and continued for a while.

We spent the afternoon packing; three of our four large pieces would stay in Mauritius while we continued on to Réunion and Madagascar.


Drinks

Salads

Salads and main courses

Dessert

Citronella

Our final dinner was just down the road at Kaz Kreole, a beachside restaurant which serves, uh, Creole food. We had stopped by the previous day to see if they could make fruitbat curry, and they told us to check back after they contacted their supplier. Unfortunately, they were unable to get one, so we ate their regular offering.


Chinese crab and chicken curry

 

Seychelles lessons

 

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