A week of surprises

 Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love brings you a fairy tale.

We have seen Praslin’s award winning beach and now it was time to see the famous Vallée de Mai. This is a nature reserve in the middle of the island which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The island is famous for the Coco de Mer; a large double nut seed in the shape of lady parts!

We have driven through the Vallee de Mai road a few times now, and it is basically a road through dense jungle, the trees and granite boulders are all huge and it is a pretty amazing drive; I can’t quite believe that this will be the drive to school each day.

Walking around the nature reserve is very peaceful. There are easy to follow paths, some long, others shorter and also a view point looking over the green hills. Here we spotted a few birds; the Seychelles Bulbul, the common/Indian Minahs and the Madagascan and Seychelles Fodys. We were looking out for the elusive Seychelles Black Parrot but didn’t see them that day (we have since had some in our garden). There was a lot of skinks and a few token green day lizards. Strangely enough, there weren’t many palm spiders, flies or bugs; it seems as though the paths might get sprayed with pesticides. They use these to eradicate invasive plant species that may endanger the native coco de mer trees but this may and could well be having an adverse effect on native insect and arachnid species.

There are some other trails through the Vallée de Mai from one side to the other which take a few hours, I am sure in those hikes there would be plenty of creepy crawlies! The nature park is a lovely walk and because we are now residents (I still can’t believe it), it was free entry for us, there is a charge for tourists and a pricey gift shop to match.

Over the next few days we started to explore the island and our area. Everything is just so pretty, there are so many postcard moments to capture. As Jay and I are on the South side of the island and all the other new staff, and many current, live on the North side we soon realised that of an evening it was difficult to get around. Sunset is around 6:30pm and the buses stop; this meant that of an evening we had no transport and we were quite worried that we may feel isolated over the other side of the island. With this in mind, transport was our next priority. We changed car licenses to Seychelles licenses, me and Jay had decided we would be getting a scooter as cars here are extremely expensive for quite old cars and this way we could both drive the scooter to get around. Unfortunately, my UK licence did not have a picture of a scooter on so they said I would have to do a test, more to come on that matter!

Before the students were back in school we had ‘Teacher’s week’. This was great for all of us who are new as it meant we could really settle in and get to know the school, the staff and how things get done! One of the first points of discussion in the staff handbook was not the usually ‘fire evacuation plan’ but a tsunami evacuation plan; it is moments like that which make you remember where we are, a small dot on the map that if we are lucky gets its own zoomed in box! At the end of the week we had a team building day, not just any team building day, a day on another island! How to ensure a good start to the year? Take all the staff on boats to another island and play games on the beach then have a BBQ!

The day started with a quick boat ride to Curieuse Island, I am still not a boat fan and don’t know if I ever will be. Our group got dropped off at the side of the island that has free roaming Aldabra tortoises. They are just unreal; it is like going back in time, they love a good neck tickle!

Everyone else had been dropped off on the other side onto the beach where we would be doing activities. This meant the group of us had to do a walk through the mangroves to the other side. It was so nice to see more of the wildlife and fauna here, there was a lot of hermit crabs about and giant mangrove crabs. There were paths along the way and on some parts there were wooden bridges across the mangroves.

At one point we managed to overlook the main path and went along an old trail, this led us into the edge of the mangroves and we ended up wading knee deep in murky water; I didn’t want to think about what was underneath. After reaching a dead end, we turned back and eventually found the correct way and met the others on the beach. A mini adventure before the day had started!

The next few hours were packed with crazy team activities, reverse sack races (over your head), three legged races, wheelbarrow races and many more. It was a great way to get to know colleagues better. We then sat down for drinks and a BBQ, had a swim and a sunbathe before head home. What a great way to start a new school year!

Just before we started teacher’s week, it was mine and Jay’s anniversary. Eleven years and three countries later Jay popped the question at the beach at the bottom of the garden. We were watching a beautiful sunset when he got down on one knee…

   

After a dreamlike first fortnight this just made it even more magical!

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