The Seychelles segment of our trip was off to a rough start. An impressive lack of organization at the Colombo airport meant that even showing up four hours in advance was just enough to make our flight without one of us becoming truly unpleasant. Our flight was at 0200, landing in the Seychelles at around 0500 local time. Which means not much sleep even in the best of cases, which was not my case as I’m still a nervous flier. The plane was filled with Sri Lankans going abroad for work, and they were intent on making the most of the free meals and beers on the plane. No doubt they were heading for extended austere/spartan conditions akin to indenturedness (not a word), so who could blame them?
We landed at a deserted and shuttered airport, our ferry to the island of Praslin was at 0800,. Ever since a certain incident in Mexico City, I don’t sleep in airports between transfers either, so there wasn’t much to do but wait, and look for the dude who was supposed to drive us to the jetty. I had pre-booked and paid everything, so nothing to worry about.
Except the dude never showed. Super.
With time running out to make the ferry we had to (once more) activate a plan B and cab it to the port (price gouging time). Once at the ferry, the place that should have given us our prepaid tickets was closed. Super. We still managed to locate our tickets (completely elsewhere) and board the fully booked boat. Good, I can relax now. 60 minutes of being lulled by the waves, I pretty much passed out.
Then we got the rental car.
I knew it was going to be a right hand drive and (obviously) driving on the left, but I underestimated what 32 years of driving in the opposite setup would do to my muscle memory and habits. Let’s just say I indicated turns with my wipers a lot. It might have been wiser to take an automatic but what fun would that have been? Also some roads were actually too narrow for two cars to pass each other and they were lined with either ditches, precipices, or other life threatening features. My copilot yelled at me, a lot. It was no doubt a good thing as we did not end up in the ocean (with the car). Let me remind you I had barely slept at this point. On a funny note, the only advice from the rental agency guy was “don’t park under coconut trees”. Makes sense. So that was the rough start. The next day the first dive made up for everything.
Also the scenery was rather stunning.
But back to the first dive, I mean wow.
When we arrived at the site, from the boat we could clearly see the bottom as if through glass except more luminous, maybe 70 feet below us. We could easily identify the different fishes. As we dove in the 29 degrees C water, it was like being suspended in limpid liquid crystal. Outside of dreams it is as close as you will ever get to flying super hero style. Unbelievable.
Most of the dives that week were about 50 to 60 min long, about the same thing in feet for depth, we saw white tips, all kinds of morays (peppered, zebra, dalmatian, green, golden) rays (eagle, porcupine), and lots of turtles. Of course there were also tons of reef fishes, including a new friend, the oriental sweetlips, that looks awesome as a juvenile and as an adult. I even spotted one of my all time favourites, the juvenile emperor angel fish. Plus octopus on every dive. As far as cool new critters are concerned we saw mantis shrimps, different nudibranchs and sea slugs, gobies living with shrimps, and for the first time a black and yellow ribbon eel.
During one of the dives (sorry for the humble brag) I was so calm, I scared/embarassed a nurse shark. It did not know I was there and almost ran into me, it got startled, bumped into the coral and fled as quickly as it could, though it did come back for a look later on.
Another dive that stands out as legendary, on a site called South Marianne, took us between improbable spires and pinnacles, it was like swimming through the remains of a submerged forteresse or maybe Atlantis itself.
A place of straight blades of granite reaching up to the surface 60 feet above, with the crashing surf making like battle clouds. Unbelievable.
As for post scuba buccal hygiene, the local beer, the Seybrew, did a good job of washing the salt away from our mouths, plus their logo is a turtle.
We also continued our exploration of local snacks.
Out of our ten dives, two truly stand out as memorable. The rest were great but a level of scuba we are accustomed to. I really do think we are spoiled with the Caribbean at our doorstep…
We are south of the equator for the first time, I have not seen a completely clear sky yet to see how different the stars look here. Also I was a little disappointed they did not do the whole Neptune initiation in the plane like in the old days for newbie equator crossers, but that’s just me I guess.
Next we are off to the principal island of Mahé, talk to you soon.