For the best part of 2 decades, excitement in this wonderful corner of the planet came hard on the heels of excitement: night dives in the big blue; fishing expeditions in the virgin waters near the Amirantes drop-off; sailing trips to legendary Aldabra, one of the largest raised coral atolls on Earth; expeditions by moonlight into the lagoon of St. Joseph; lobster and crab hunts in the swamps near Benjamin Island..(I could go on for pages.)
I feel immensely privileged to have led the life I did on the Outer Islands because I know I was one of the last to do so; one of the last to live as an Ilois, (Creoloe term for Islander), hunter-gatherer and adventurer, mercifully before the advent of fast aircraft flying in filet mignon for tourists.
One morning over breakfast, about 6 years before I left, the Prince turned to me and said, ‘you know, if you do not write this down, it will be lost forever.’
It was that simple remark that set me off down the road of writer and I am grateful I managed to get the words down before the world we had known and the extraordinary adventure we had lived for all those years began to retreat before the advance of the outside world.
Even then, we knew we were experiencing something truly extraordinary and,yes, as someone already familiar with the written word while I was a translator in Iran, the task fell to me. I feel proud that it did. ‘Voices’, my collection of short stories about the fantasy and reality of life on the Outer Islands of Seychelles is the result and the third edition is about to be published anytime soon.
It’s funny – when I look back to that time, it might have been a century ago for all the resemblance it bears to the way they live on islands today. We lived in the bosom of nature like the Sioux Indian and that world has already gone; it is as much a thing of the past as the Battle of Little Bighorn and it will never come again. (TBC)