So it’s the first month of the new year. The clock is ticking, and fast!
How time flies!!! Just a few weeks ago had been busy helping out in the family business and then bringing in the new year. It’s already two weeks into January 2017 and I have been too busy to even sit down and reflect…about the coming months, my new year resolution- whether to even have one, what I have planned to accomplish this year.
I have never been big on resolutions, and have never been able to keep at it for more than a few months.
Now? I have finally been able to sit down and write down my goals and aims for this year, and even if I don’t accomplish all of my goals, seeing them will set me back on the path…well that is the idea for now.
So it’s November and it’s my birthday month. Yoohoo!! The rainy season has officially started. Took a little holiday with the sister to one of the islands the first weekend and it was all sunny, and thank god for that. A rainy weekend would have made it hard to ride a bicycle and hold and umbrella. We cool peeps do not use raincoats on the island!
So far this year, the rains are mostly early mornings or during the night. The days are pleasantly sunny or dull (but not much rain as such). This is a great thing! I hate soggy wet shoes.
A lot has happened in November, been to a few islands, for holidays and Hashes; namely Praslin (whilst making our way to La Digue), La Digue and Silhouette. Not sure when I will be able to catch up with all the writing, but will surely try my best, to get pictures out at least.
Just thought I would update you all, on what has been happening lately, since I have not posted anything in a while. Sorry about that, got a few things in the pipeline and have also been a bit busy with work.
I had been contemplating about closing down the blog, but then decided against it. This is my blog after all, memories for me. It is oki that I am not getting the traffic I had envisioned. One day when I am 60 and I have a read of my adventures, I’ll hopefully remember the little details and be transported back to the good old days! Right now there is a lot I would like to write about, time is working against me. Hopefully not for long.
Hopefully next year I am better at this, and would greatly appreciate your thoughts on ways to improve, or if there is anything in particular I should be writing about.
Attended my first ” Crazy challenge” hosted by the Seychelles National Sports Council (“NSC”) this weekend (October 22nd, 2016), and what an experience it was!
There was a lot of planning and information gathering before the trip and Williana (from the NSC) was a gem, always answering my queries and putting up with my calls and questions. She organised for the boat tickets and when they were ready she called me so I could go pick up my tickets.
So on the Friday, took a lift from a fellow competitor (Ray) to the Victoria jetty. Left Mahe in the afternoon to go to Praslin. Took the Cat Coco, which is the ferry that would take us to Praslin. Reached Baie Ste Anne, Praslin at around 5.30 pm.
It was such a long boat trip and towards the end started feeling a bit queasy. Things went from bad to worse towards the end of the trip, when a little boy standing infront of me started hurling, with all the sound effects. Was glad to step onto land.
Arriving, we got lost looking for the others , and then found out that NSC had organised a bus to come pick us up. We met the Praslin NSC representative, a jolly lady ( Nadine).There was about seven of us due from Mahe; two of which would be coming by flight. Four were competing, and the other three were officials. We would be meeting the other competitors from Praslin the next morning. The bus took us to the place where we would be put up for the night (Baie Ste Anne field), we would be sleeping on make camps at the changing rooms. Feels like I was back at school camp! However since there was a football match going on and the rooms was being used, we decided we would go to Grande Anse office, where there were matches going on and then we would return to base in about an hour or so.
Arriving at Grande Anse four of us decided we would go and get take outs for dinner and also pick up a few drinks and snacks. We went to buy dinner at this quaint little take away, seemed quite popular, maybe it being the only take away we spotted right away. It was being manned by two people. It seemed that the lady serving could not handle the crowd and man the phone at the same time.There was this man bringing in refills. She looked pretty relieved when the “Chef” came in. The line went pretty fast from then on. The take away had a very limited menu, but in the state we were in, we just wanted something to eat and go to sleep.
We headed back to the office to wait for the others. We decided we would sit under the big Takamaka tree to eat dinner. Bad idea, Jenna was attacked by the hairy caterpillars, better known as “senir plim” in creole. We quickly moved from there.
After what seemed like an hour, Williana and Hillary (the Mahe NSC representatives) arrived. They had taken the flight to the island and due to some miscommunication which resulted in their delayed arrival.
We took the bus back to Baie Ste Anne. There were two rooms allocated to us. One would be for the Boys and one for the Ladies. Williana managed to get us all mattresses. She had informed us to bring bedsheets and pillows and the works, which worked out pretty well. It was quite well organised, basic but definitely comfortable for the night we would be spending there.
The shower room had no doors, and the girls were unlucky in that we had no lights in the room nor in the bathing area. Torches and mobile phones came to good use. We got ready for bed, lighting up mosquito coils all around the place. Williana and Hillary decided they would bring their mattresses outside and sleep. It was pretty safe, since there was a watchman at the building.
We decided we would go to bed around 10 pm so we would be well rested for tomorrow’s event, however we ended up talking till late. The eldest lady competitor (Jenna)was a 61 year old lady! Jenna and Mr. Medor (an official from Mahe) were telling us their childhood stories, and about the walks and challenges they had attended. Jenna has been doing these challenges for the past 10 years. Mr. Medor used to take part in such events, until his knees started giving him trouble, and now he helps out as an official.
By the time we all headed to bed, it was past midnight. Was awoken around 3 am by a group of drunks singing in the streets. Eventually we all went back to sleep, only to wake up in another two hours.
Adrenaline pumping and excited. Quickly got ready and headed off to the starting point which was the Baie Ste Anne office. The race was to start at 7 am. There were a few who reached slightly later, and their times were adjusted accordingly.
The path would be to go to Côte d’Or, Anse Boudin, Mont Plaisir, Amitié, Grand Anse and Consolation before reaching the finish line at the Baie Ste Anne office.
I will not fib and tell you it was a pleasant walk/run. I felt I was doing pretty well, there were about fifteen people behind me.
I got lost at the turn at Côte d’Or and ended up at Berjaya Praslin Resort. I had to call Williana for directions, and thankfully they were close by and were able to point me in the right direction. I thought that the immediate three competitors that were behind me had got an advantage now and started running, only to get confused upon reaching Raffles Praslin.
I saw a huge “Diversion” board and then saw an arrow saying “Beach access” which I took, not knowing this was a short cut (an automatic disqualification- no shortcuts allowed). I started to jog for a bit and tripped and landed hard on my ankle. Started swelling and the pain did not help. I had miles to go!
After walking for about two minutes, called Williana and she informed me I had taken the wrong road. However since I was pretty close to the main connecting road, I decided to continue on. At this point I knew I was disqualified, however I chose to go on and see where the trail ends. Stubbed my toe and tripped over some roots a few times along the way. Did not help with the pain in my ankle.
I walked on, trying to keep myself motivated. I reached the junction between Zimbabwe road and Anse Lazio road. There was a young adult who had set up a little table and was selling fruits. At this point I was exhausted and ready to pass out. I went on for another two minutes till I felt I was going to pass out, and by then the road was a bit steep and the ankle was getting worse. So called Williana and told her I would be stopping now and could not go on. She was at the beach waiting for us to come so she could go over Mt. Plaisir with the last competitor. She asked me to take a bus back to the starting point.
Headed back to the fruit table, I remembered I had seen a bus there. Thankfully it was still around when I arrived. asked the bus driver if his bus would go to my destination and he said yes, however he was not due to start work for another 15 minutes, so he said I would have to wait. Sat in the bus and waited, exhaustion taking over. It took me just over 2 hours to reach this far.
Reached the starting point and joined Hillary. She was waiting for the competitors to clock their time. Spent time chatting with her and dozing off here and there. It was a really difficult track, I had totally underestimated the endurance that would be needed.
There were approximately 30 competitors, however a total of 10 competitors completed the course. The NSC bus picked up a lot of people on the way. They all arrived at the office. The ladies winner was Jenna (just about 2 hours) and the 3rd competitor was a lady who completed the challenge in 6 hours.
Shortly after we walked back to base so freshen up for the boat which would be leaving in two hours. We had already packed this morning, which made things a lot easier for us.
Came back to the office on the way to the jetty and the winners picked up their trophies, then took the NSC bus to the jetty. Took a group photo ( which I was part of, even though had not win or completed the challenge).
The boat back was quite uneventful except for the sea sickness that overtook me. Was glad had not eaten lunch. Reached Mahe, waited a short while for Dad and then headed off home.
Lesson learnt this weekend: You need to prepare well for the Praslin crazy challenge, and not just hop onto a boat and go for it.
Being of Indian origin, it is only right that I include some posts about our festivals and community celebrations. So shall start with Navratri which started off last week, and I only went to the temple last night ( in all the whole nine days of celebrations).
Navaratri is a festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga. The word “Navaratri” means “nine nights” in Sanskrit. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shaktis are worshipped during the Navaratris. The Devis worshipped depend on the tradition of the region.
This festival is one of the most important ones in the Hindu calendar and culminates in Dusshera, which leads on to Diwali, the Festival of Lights. It is a time of prayers, dance and music and is celebrated lavishly all over India and by the Hindus living abroad. The diya or light is lit for nine nights and it is a time of rituals.
The legends of Navratri are Maa Durga (Goddess Durga) and Lord Ram. Goddess Durga got the victory on demon Mahishasura after nine days fight and by killing him on the tenth day. This festival signifies the triumph of good over evil. This tenth day of the victory is known as Vijaya Dasami (Dussehra).
So let’s have a look at this massive celebration in the Seychelles. Earlier in the Seychelles, during the festivals, if you went to the only temple here, you could be almost 100 percent sure of running into the entire Indian community. It is a venue for many to meet up after a long time, especially families spread out all over the islands. Not so much anymore.
The community has grown, as have the venues for the celebration. Nowadays there are clusters of communities/ friends, what you may call it, and they celebrate Navaratri according to their ways, one can see it in the big divide of North Indians and the South Indians.
The “North Indians”- in quotes, since not all North Indians, celebrated Navratri at the ex- SMB Hall at Roche Caiman, where they had Garba and the sale of Indian foods and sweets, whereas, the South Indians celebrated through prayers and offerings at the temple. Some pujas were conducted twice a day on some days.
So the Navratri dates and information are as follows; it is important that these dates are for 2016.
Navratri Day 1 – October 1, 2016 (Saturday)
Day 2 – October 2, 2016 (Sunday)
Day 3 (Dwitiya) – October 3, 2016 (Monday)
Day 4 (Tritiya) – October 4, 2016 (Tuesday)
Day 5 (Chaturthi) – October 5, 2016 (Wednesday)
Day 6 (Panchami) – October 6, 2016 (Thursday)
Day 7 (Shashthi) – October 7, 2016 (Friday)
Day 8 (Saptami) – October 8, 2016 (Saturday)
Day 9 (Mahashtmi) – October 9, 2016 (Sunday)
Day 10 (Navami) – October 10, 2016 (Monday)
Day 11 (Dashami or Dussehra) – October 11, 2016 (Tuesday)
So last night was the Maha Navami, and I happen to go to the temple they had set up a wooden step pandal and placed idols on them and also there was an adorned statue of Goddess Saraswathi in a corner. I was sitting with Mom and her group of friends, did not know people my age. Earlier I knew at least 90 percent of the community – now no more than 40 percent, this mostly arises from the fact I do not attend most of the festivities. I choose to go to selected festivals.
Today they had the Saraswati Puja; a special puja offered to Goddess Saraswati (the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment). Usually books and musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge. It was a very long and tiring puja. I reached the temple at 7 pm and I left at around 10.30 pm. Had to sit down (crossed-leg) for most of it.
As has been the case for a number of years, the temple gives out saris for all devotees, so there was quite a crowd. This year they even gave the younger girls salwar material and bangles, and toys for the little ones. What a crowd and jostling. It was times like this that reminds me why I hated being in crowded places. Glad to say after the sari distribution, people made a rush to the prasadham place, where they had put out take away boxes for people to help themselves to. I could no longer take the crowd and decided to sit it out, whilst Mom went to collect her puja basket which she had kept inside.
Then it was time to go home. Did not take any photos of the pujas, next year maybe.
So I thought I would update you about the “Hash” of yesterday. Well I left home an hour before the usual meet up time of 3.30 pm and rightly so I would think. I ended up getting lost and having to ask my way around from the people at the bus stop, vegetable stalls etc.
So let me tell you about what happened. I took the road up La Misere and down the other side. Once i reached the well-known Petrol station I took the right instead of the left turn! So on and on I went and ended up at the Grande Anse Mahe school, by then I knew I had gone totally of course.
So I stopped by a taxi, and the kind taxi operator proceeded to confirm I was way off course and I should have had taken the left turn instead. He proceeded to show me on a map, but honestly I had no idea where and what he was showing me. Thanked him for his time and turned around.
On my way back I saw this wooden bridge I have always wanted to visit. Took note of the area and proceeded on with my destination.
The Hash was being done at Anse aux Poules Bleues. We were informed through a Facebook post that it was a place between Anse a la Mouche and Baie Lazare. We were also told it was a “gentle trail exploring the upper regions of not quite Baie Lazare”. The trail was set by hares MT & Norbert. My alarm bell should have rang right about here. No “gentle trail” involving Norbert was gentle.
I got lost trying to locate the designated parking and ended up spending about 20 minutes in the car park infront of an Indian shop at Anse Poules Bleues. Whilst waiting there were little puppies that suddenly took to barking at me. Tiny little beings, so aggressive.
The little aggressive puppies
So I finally found the designated parking, thanks to this guy who kept following me around, it kind of got irritating. I need to remember who I ask directions from.( Note to self) I had stopped close to a vegetable stall for directions, and this guy was there, and took to following me around. Dude just chill already!
I got to the parking, waited for everyone to turn up. There were new comers today and some old Hashers too! We were briefed and we started the Hash.
First it was a small hill and we passed by a farm.
Kept walking up and there was a hill, then another slightly steep hill. By the third hill iIwas puffing and huffing. Started feeling dizzy. I had to stop for a few minutes. Was talking to Norbert and he informed me that if I just got over another two hills I could take a short cut down and back to the parking. I looked at the fourth “hill” in front of me. That was it! I told Norbert I would not make it up and I think it was better I went back. I told him to continue on ( I was lagging far behind and he was too as a result).
So he said oki, that would be best. So he went on, without me :(.
I sat down for a couple of minutes and then started my way back down. I was so disappointed I could not go on, but I knew it would take me forever and it was so far from home. They had estimated that it would take 2 hours to go up and come down. I knew I would take way longer and they would probably have to send a search party for me.
Went back down and I crossed paths with this slightly aged lady. She was dressed for Mass (it being a Saturday afternoon, so Mass it was on the island). I would put her in her 50’s and she was walking up in wedges! What an embarrassment I am. Here was this lady in heels and I was in walking shoes and she seemed pretty oki coming up! I think I just found my new role model 🙂
So headed back to the parking. The parking was by a souvenir shop t “Latanier Souvenir shop”.
A pretty little establishment made entirely of wood, bamboo and thatched roofing. I walked around the property and there was the sea right opposite and a house close to the shop ( probably the owner of the shop’s). It was low tide. There were boats moored and a few odd crabs.
On the other side
So I was sitting down contemplating what I would do now. Do I wait for the others to come back or go back home?
I decided that since I has a bit more time, and it wouldn’t get dark for another hour or so, I would drive back the way I had come and check out that wooden bridge. I also knew that around that area there was a trail that went up. It would be nice to check which trail it was so I could do some research before going there.
Drove all the way back and saw the wooden bridge to my left. There was ample parking right opposite the bridge and this is where i parked. I took my bag and across to the wooden bridge. This marsh was being maintained by Avani ( a hotel) and they had a sign with bits of information.
I started walking on the wooden bridge till it came to an end. Then there was a path on the ground, which went further. It was at that point that it kicked in that I was all alone here, and should something happen, no one would know where I was. So I decided to head back out to the main road, and instead come exploring another day with friends.
I went back to the parking and I saw that there were two tourists coming down from the Vacoa trail. We spoke for a bit. They informed me that it was not a tough walk at all, however to go with someone. They informed me that at one point it appears that the trail forks into two and they thought the left was a bit tougher. So I decided I would read up a bit more on this trail and do it in the near future. I headed home soon after.
I messaged a fellow Hasher that I was heading home, and she said just as well since they were still walking and probably take another hour or so.
So a friend who regularly does hikes and challenges with the Seychelles National Sports Council informed me of an impending hike up to Morne Blanc. This was a hike that I have always wanted to do, however I always put it off saying I was not fit enough to do it. I asked around about the trail, the ones that had been on it informed me it was an uphill climb and that it was a pretty tough one and they estimated I would require an hour each way. A 2 hour walk? Pretty daunting to me, but then I decided I would try it and if I could not go on, I always had the choice of walking back down or waiting it out.
Morne Blanc is a 667 metres mountain peak in the Morne Seychellois National Park range in the Seychelles. I think it might be the 2nd highest mountain in the Seychelles based on height, not necessarily the toughest though.
A week before I went on the trail I had joined gym and worked hard on cardio and did some odd weights here and there, as a preparation for the upcoming hike organized by the National Sports Council of the Seychelles. As always, a culmination of a task needs preparation. Morne Blanc is a continuous uphill climb, from an already high altitude.
So early Sunday morning I made my way to Stad Popiler (a Stadium in the heart of Victoria town) and we waited for our bus and paid the necessary fees. The bus trip to and forth cost SCR 25 and was worth it, as there was no designated parking where the trail started.
We took the bus up the winding roads of Sans Souci to the beginning of the trail. Off we went up. The fastest walkers/ runners zoomed up the trail and the slower ones (including me) took the trail at a more human pace, chit chatting and making introductions on the way up.
As I had not done a hike recently (well to be honest in about two weeks), I was having an issue with regulating my breathing and walking. Soon this was rectified with the help of Rihanna and her little group of helpers. They showed me how to take my time and walk and breathe at the same time.
There were steps made out of tree trunks and branches found on the route in the initial uphill climb. Then it was walking over slabs of smoothened rocks or jumping them or passing through them. The path is clear and wide.
Up and up we went. This trail is such a nice peaceful one, with nothing much to see except for trees and moss and more trees and the occasional view of the cliff on the opposite side. I was hoping to catch sight of birds or even a hedgehog, however none were seen or heard.
The path passed a cave made entirely of roots, it was something totally different to what I had seen before. Clearly these are what fables are made of?
We went uphill slower than intended. On this hike the youngest member was a ten year old girl, and throughout the walk up we were stopping to wait for her. She was a determined little fellow and it was a proud moment when she made it to the top.
After about 40 minutes of walk, I started to feel that we were near the edge. I found a spot through a small opening in the trees on our right hand side, which showed the sheer drop and cliffs on the opposite site of the mountain we were on. I think it might have been the Morne Seychellois. There was a deep gorge between us and the Morne Seychellois. Was warned by a friend’s mom not to go too close to the edge incase slipped and fell over.
A few more minutes’ walk further up, we came across a wooden bridge. A further few minutes of jumping over rocks and one comes across a gaping hole deep into the left, which was barred off in case someone fell down the shaft.
Then another couple of rocks to get over and there is another wooden bridge.
Then there were stairs (probably made of rocks or cement, hard to tell with so much moss) which led up to the man-made wooden platform; the place for scenic views of Mahe.
I am glad to say this is not a tough hike as the word going round. A slow walker such as me (pretty unfit as well) can do both ways in just above an hour. So folks, if this is something you would like to do, then go ahead!
So the trail we decided to do was the Salazie trail, set in the La Misere forests. This was basically a trail that took you from Salazie area to Grande Anse, where we had a little cook-out.
We started off a bit earlier than all the previous Hashes. The meeting point was Grande Anse Mahe beach. From there we would be take a bus ( organised by the Hash House Harriers) to the top of La Misere; to the start of the Salazie trail.Hares Kevin and Jones had set and marked the trail during the week.
I had underestimated my driving ability and had given myself just about an hour to reach the other side of the island. Reached there in less than thirty minutes and decided to check the surrounding areas.
Grande Anse Beach is off limits for swimming, a very dangerous place. Has a history of drownings.
As soon as you enter the parking you are greeted by this huge signboard, warning one of the dangers of swimming.
There is a little bridge past the sign. The view…well you need to go see it! A pity one cannot go for a swim there.
So while waiting, introduced myself to a couple and their two teenagers who apparently were joining the Hashers for the first time.
After everyone had reached, we boarded the bus
.The Salazie trail is a well known trail, ventured by few. The whole trail is about 7km ( if i can trust the S-health app on my phone). But do not underestimate the distance with ease!
Once i got to the beginning of the trail ( by foot may I add), i could totally understand why. Getting to the start of the trail was a hike in itself, and I was just about ready to head back.
The trail is located in a residential area, have to pass through a few private property before you can reach the starting point. Have to walk a tarmac road, and at this point it was all uphill.
The first part of the trail was easy, as it follows through the cultivated mahagony forest and tea plantations.
So once you get onto the actual trail it’s a steep walk up. I was not prepared for this. Took my time going up, many rests on the way and finally made it up to flatter ground.
Came across this bridge.
There was a lot of vegetation to see, and the backdrops of mountains. A true nature-lover’s paradise.
You would not believe , but people have built something up there.
The last part of the trail was pretty demanding, had to go through the dense forests and squeeze oneself over and between huge granite boulders.
A friend had sprained her ankle, and my being last as usual; a slow walker, we met up with her and another Hasher (Jones). The four of us made it down together and helped each other to reach the “finishing line” which was the Grande Anse waterfall and reservoir.
One isn’t allowed to swim there, not sure if this is a new rule because I remember climbing up and jumping down into the pool in my younger days. The waterfall is a marvellous sight nonetheless.
A car came to pick us up from there. We drove to the starting point where there was a BBQ going and we joined in, socialized, took pictures. I had to leave earlier as I had a birthday dinner to attend. It was a pretty tiring Hash but got to make a few new friends.