Mark and Kate Brennan arrived at my hotel on the eighth day of my holiday;
they were on their honeymoon but were quick to make friends. The rest of this
page is from Kate's letter of July 1993, describing their experiences after I
left. They lived near Manchester.
We were walking to the bus stop at Beau Vallon to go back to Vista do Mar
when I heard cheers, we followed the noise, and there were open trucks
colourfully decorated with bright fabrics and balloons and the local teenagers
were dressed in animal/ghost/skeleton costumes and masks. At the community
centre there was a stand, a band, and official-looking people. I asked one of
the kids what was going on — it was the beginning of the Indian Ocean
Games and the flame was arriving from Mauritius before it was to travel around
I wanted to follow the flame with the locals, I asked a policeman if I
could climb aboard an open-topped truck and he arranged this for me and Mark.
I easily clambered on and then helped Mark on, to the locals' delight, I
suppose it's man help woman over there. We had a great trip around
Mahé and ended up in Anse Boileau where there was singing, dancing, and
a mini-fair. On the way there were Seselwa folk beating out rhythms on old
discarded oil drums at the sides of the road — and in our truck there was
an old drunk man beating a complicated rhythm on an old petrol can, which was
echoed by a woman next to the driver using the same instrument. I was
desperately trying to be a local (by this time I had gone a golden brown
colour) but my clothes and Mark's white face gave us away; people were
pointing at us saying, “Les touristes!” That was the start of Zwe
des Zil (the Islands Games).
We struck up a friendship with a family from Glacis: Meyzelline, Emmanuel,
and their children Dorothy (14) and Pamela (8). Meyzelline took us both around
Mahé to the mountain beyond La Misère, to the tea plantation and
Tea House, to Anse Intendance, the orchid nursery, L'Islette (where a wedding
was to be held), the craft village, and all around the coast road.
The Sunday before we left we were invited to their home and given such
hospitality: we had a delicious, authentic Seselwa meal including shark,
pumpkin, beef, chicken, coconut, banana, and salads. Meyzelline had bought
some liqueur — the one in a bottle shaped like a coco-de-mer nut —
and poured a beakerful for each of us as if it was milk shake. I played with
mine but Mark got merry.
My favourite island was La Digue, and a close second Frégate. The
waves at Frégate were frighteningly high and washed you about 20 metres
up the beach. I was having a good time tumbling in the waves until I wanted to
get back on the beach and realized that I couldn't as there was a shelf
forming beneath the waves that gave way every time I stepped on to the beach.
I thought I was going to die until a freak wave picked me up and dumped me on
the beach and I bruised my coccyx.
Frégate is like a paradise island even though it's only a mile by a
mile. You can walk along the paths and pick fruit off the trees, feed the
giant tortoises or try to catch the lizards; the beaches there are best for
collecting unusual shells.