Mike Left explores the flip side of Seychelles, bats and all.
Scrap the misconceptions of Indian island paradises if you’ve never visited one, or if you have and never ventured beyond the manicured beaches of the resort estates of places like 115-island nation of Seychelles then you may also need a reality check.
The archipelago hosts as much beauty in its people as it does for its turquoise sea and impossibly exquisite scenery. These are the islands where bats, not birds, rule the skies and kids still walk to school in a nod to the day when childhoods were simpler, but with all the advantages of a modern and increasingly prosperous nation.
Nightlife apparently isn’t good enough for the Seychelles fruit bat. Hoards of leather-winged creatures fill the skies in bright sunshine to chow down on mangos, bananas, palm seeds, native berries, breadfruit, while they’ve also acquired a taste for avocados grown locally.
As dusk falls they fight in the jungle for spaces in the best trees – the alpha males always landing last and scattering the weaker onto lower branches in a cacophony of bat squeals that are creepy to the new listener. The locals of course have found that there is a plus side to having noisy bats as companions in the dense tropical jungles where their houses are; that benefit being a ready supply of bat meat that is an island delicacy (and mine is due to be served later this evening!). Where I’m staying tonight is high on the slopes of a granite mountain near Ans Aux Pins. It’s a 2km drive down to the main road and another 3km to the local school that sits on the coast.
Spiderman, Minions and various Disney characters adorn the backpacks of the pre-schoolers who bounce along in noisy groups while elder brother, sisters or friends from the adjoining high school shepherd them around cars and trucks in the morning rush. Mobile phones blare out Seychellois Segar or Moutia style music and the whole procession is too familiar for those of use old enough to have enjoyed school days where the journey to and from class was an unannounced part of our education.
Frosty the Sandman
Its winter here at the moment but the dress code still nods to the less-is-more concept. Winds are blowing from the west from the distant Madagascar and the east African coast and though impressively violent blankets of rain come and go without warning, it all occurs around mild, pleasant temperatures; so far removed from the harshness of any place in winter not in and around the equator.
Should you come to Seychelles if you ever get the opportunity? 100% yes.
Should you look for something away from the honeymoon experience and get off the tourist track? Affirmative again.
Should you seek out live Seychellois Segar or Moutia music? You’d be foolish to miss the beats. Should you ditch the hire car and walk with locals? I’ve found the locals to be friendly and sincere people, but you get to choose on this one.
Should you eat the bat meat?
Well, that I can’t tell you about right now. Ask me in the morning.