Pearls on a Canvas of Blue: Seychelles Re-Discovered

The Seychellois are a highly multi-cultural society, proof of which is to be found within the language (Seychellois Creole), the food and the architecture.

Pristine white beaches, alongside waters that range from light greens to electric blues, and fiery red sunsets that set the skies ablaze. No one would blame you for calling Seychelles a tropical paradise; it might be the closest to heaven a person could get. This constellation of 115 iridescent islands lies strewn in the bosom of the Indian Ocean. From the air, its beaches resemble the fine brushstrokes of a master painter and are no less overwhelming when you finally get to sink your feet into the sand. However, the beaches are merely the beginning. Lush green hills and jungles teeming with wildlife at the edges of every settlement are the consequence of extensive conservation and restoration programmes taken on by the Seychellois people.

Prior to the arrival of the European colonists, Seychelles was completely uninhabited. The Seychellois have descended from African, French, Indian and Chinese populations that were brought over as bonded labour and slaves to work on the spice and coffee plantations. The result is a highly multi-cultural society, proof of which is to be found within the language(Seychellois creole), the food and the architecture.

On Mahé, the largest island of Seychelles, you can get a taste of Creole food at a number of permanent and temporary establishments that pepper the beaches. Rice and fish are staples, along with generous amounts of spices(generally ginger, lemongrass, coriander and tamarind), coconut milk and breadfruit create a blend of flavours exclusive to Seychelles. The most common dishes to come across are cari bernique, daube (sweet sauce), rougaille, and carii coco (meat curry with cream of coconut), and salade de palmiste et bredes. The warm, tropical climate allows the people to grow a number of fruits and vegetables including spinach, guava, aubergine, lychee, melon, and calabashes. The people of the island are laid back and fun-loving.

Music and dance are essential parts of Seychellois culture, most of which is influenced by Polynesian, Arcadian, and Indian music. The two main types of folk music in Seychelles are the Montea and the Contombley, and one can hear the tunes float through the air while you walk or ride your way across the islands.

When you’ve had your fill of watching sunsets and drinking palm wine, make your way to “Pirate Cove” and Maria’s rock cafe on Mahé. Owned and operated by the Italian artist and sculptor Antonio Filippin, the Pirate museum is designed to resemble a Pirate’s galley. First, you pass through the wrought-iron spiderweb gate,(only if you know the “secret” knock, mind you). Then you make your way into the primary chamber built into the sandstone hillside(as is common in Baie Lazare), the structure stands three storeys high, complete with sails, skull and crossbones motifs, trapdoor, treasure chests and cutlasses. Pirates and treasure have always been a part of Seychelles’ history and still pervades the cultural imagination today.

Every alcove and crevasse in this ‘Pirate’s castle’ has little secrets tucked away, waiting to be decoded by new visitors.

It took three years for Antonio to create this rock-hewn wonder, and several more years to decorate. Although aesthetic may seem a little whimsical, like the owner himself, it has no shortage of stories.

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