Coco Fesses: Mes Seychelles

by Rawad J. Bou Malhab

Pour Sami Victor et David Croisée, mes premiers Seychellois!

Not your average archipelago, Les Seychelles are one of the most unprocessed & charming islands I have ever set foot on.

Well positioned at 4 degrees south of the equator & roughly 200 Kilometers northeast of Madagascar & outside the cyclone belt, these 110 (constitutionally 155) gems of group of granite & coral islands will fast forward you to a heaven you have always longed for.

Effortlessly, our plane lands into the airport of the main island, Mahé. Your first meet and greet while on the tarmac: a picturesque granite wall mountain side that runs all along the runway, parallel to the ocean. Although it was a brief encounter, the memory of this dwarfing screen will be carved into my consciously existing self for many lives to come.

Swiftly out of the airport and into our coastal hotel, we hit the car rental desk with a road map in an attempt to discover Mahé and its hidden treasures. Although not on every visitor’s to do list, Mahé proved to be exciting and diverse. Starting from Victoria, the capital, its fruit & vegetable markets, post office, little window shops, tiny streets and its popular rendez vous drinking spot Pirate’s Arms, we took Le Chemin de Soucis for an unexpected drive through the lush hillside. Through sunshine and rain, we went into & out of the highly recommended Beauvallon Beach, Anse Royale, Anse Takamaka(named after the Takamaka tree: the base of one of the wicked Takamaka Rum in the nation), the tranquil Baie de L’Intendance, Port Launey & Anse Soleil to name a few and so many unnamed, unspoiled & secluded beaches with turquoise blue waters that we invaded for snorkeling and skinny dipping! I couldn’t resist!

Sleeping happily ever after discovering Mahé, it was time for Praslin Island and our fantastic Constance Lémuria. One of the main highlights of the island is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Vallée de Mai, centrally located, it is the home of the Coco De Mer known colloquially as Coco Fesses. Home to 800 years old and 30 meters high trees, this guided tour in the Vallé de Mai was a trip back in time when rare species were common & the well beloved Louis XV named Praslin by Ile de Palme. Right after, we’ve head to few of the finest beaches in the world: the Côte d’Or, Anse Lazio & Anse Kerlan: never ending stretches of fine white sand for a good dose of fun, wilderness & tranquility.

Catching a Cat de Coco, we head to La Digue island, 43 Kilometers from Mahé, is the home of ox-carts, the steamy Good Bye Emmanuelle movie & Anse Source d’Argent. A cycle, a 101 on how to crack a coconut, a Seybrew (local beer) & a tap on the back of a 90 years old tortoise was just the start. La Digue is the least developed of Mahé & Praslin though its emerald waters, sugar white sands and great sea smothered glacis appear unexpectedly & seemingly from nowhere as if by magic of Seychelles. I am all out of words just like the locals who refused to tell me more about that shameless Emmanuelle movie.

Our trip to the Seychelles was never complete without a visit to our favorite locals The Victors. An on the spot dinner at their hillside island home have taught us a great deal about their culture, food, habits, values & most of all alcohol! Merci toujours Maman, Papa, Ralph et Jacqui!

Here are some interesting names of roads, bays & islands that made everything sound like a bed time story: Petite Anse, Anse à la Mouche, La Brulée, Pointe au Sel,  Ile Curieuse, Anse Bonnet Carré, Ile Boudeuse, Ile aux Vaches, Iles Cousin et Cousine and Ile Silhouette.

Did you know: One of the Seychelles natural resources are cinnamon trees. It is only the Seychelles calling out your name the next time you smell cinnamon in the air. Pack up!

Till we meet again, you’ll always be my Seychelles.