I signed up for a wildlife volunteer project in the Seychelles. In order to get accustomed to the time change and to get my PADI, I went a few days early. Another volunteer for a different project, Sarah, shared a hotel room with me.
One afternoon, Sarah and I decided to go on a hike to a secluded beach. Before heading out, we got breakfast from a bakery near our hotel. It had the best bread I've ever tasted – soft and fresh out of the oven.
After a short bus ride up a two-lane street lined with thick green trees, we arrived in Victoria.
Our first stop was the market. We wandered through the square where locals were selling fruits, veggies and tourist trifles. I bought a few postcards to write while tanning on the beach. Casually making our way around the city, we wandered back to the bus stop.
After more time on a different, overcrowded bus, we were dropped off at the end of a road where a few houses and a closed restaurant dotted the landscape. A few small, colorful boats sat under some trees (above). We stopped in a hole-in-the-wall market that seemed overrun with expired and Asian snacks, bought a few that we hoped were edible and not expired, and continued.
We looked around for a trailhead marker, only to get distracted by a fruit bat in a wire cage. Its owner called us over to look at his pet, and talked to us about where we were going and where we were from. He encouraged us to pet the bat. I was dissuaded, since Contagion was still in the forefront of my mind.
The starting point was up a steep hill marked by a water tap at the top. We filled our bottles. It was cool and refreshing. We entered the path under a huge covering of trees.
Although the beginning convinced us that the hike’s “easy” rating in the guidebook was accurate, that thought was soon shattered: not only did the trees disappear, the hill got steeper. It was hot and humid. We continued on, climbing granite rocks on a small ledge built into the side of the cliffs (left), up and down, through trees offering scant patches of shade.
When we were in the open, gazing into the clear water with the palm trees below us and the birds above, we realized the view was worth every drop of sweat.
It was supposed to be a two-hour hike, and around that time we began looking for the beach. Descending down some large boulders, we entered a thick set of trees, where we lost the trail. A few more steps down more rocks, we reached our destination – to be shared with two men in speedos.
We were disappointed when we waded into the water and discovered that under the waves, sharp rocks were lurking. Under normal conditions this would have been fine. But the waves were pounding the beach, and it was unsafe.
After 20 minutes, we left and hiked back to find another beach where we drank Takamaka rum with coke. For the remaining daylight, we floated among the waves, dug our toes into the white sand, and watched the sun disappear over the horizon in a rainbow of colors.
That night, we ate at the Boathouse. It was buffet-style with all typical Creole dishes and fresh grilled fish. As we finished dessert, a storm took over and it began to pour. We quickly hurried back towards our hotel.
But in all honesty, the walk back in a tropical storm with lightning flashing in the distance was liberating. The rain washed away thoughts of the past, leaving me open to experience whatever gifts Curieuse Island would offer me over the next month.