Monday, 18 July 2011

God's own Islands-The Seychelles

When I first went to the Seychelles some years ago I thought I was dreaming. I would sit for hours on the veranda of the villa I was staying in and stare into the sea. It was so beautiful it was difficult to believe and the funny thing was, I didn’t seem to tire of it. When something is so beautiful, enquiring eyes will not tire of looking at them.

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 It was as though God had designed the islands for himself, because almost everywhere you can see his hand at work. So much so that one of the islands, Praslin, is said to be home to the Garden of Eden. There is a forest garden in Praslin, and it is full of the most unusual and exotic plants and wildlife, mostly not found anywhere else in the world.
Unlike most tropical forests, which are full of creepy crawlies which are keen to remind us humans that they are real inhabitants of the forest, this forest is different. It is a pleasure to walk through it. Nothing bites you, stings you, slaps you in the face, or your feet don’t sink into a pile of mud. This is a real garden which you can almost skip through. In the garden you will find the huge Coco de Mer, a giant sexually erotic nut, often called the ‘love nut’ which has the world’s heaviest seed pods. Adam and Eve frolicked here, and the love nut is their legacy to the world.  

The Seychelles is composed of 115 islands, although its constitution lays claim to 155. Many of the islands are not inhabited by humans, but birds and amphibians have made many islands their home. Almost everywhere God’s hand is at work. There are impressive sculptured rocks edging into the sea on the island of La Digue, which look as though God had them commissioned so that when he lay on the beach sunning himself he could admire them.

There are also the most beautiful beaches in the world, lots of them. BeauVallon beach is regularly voted the most beautiful beach in the world. Pure golden sand, little crystals that hardly cling to your feet, clear warm waters, beautiful fish swimming around your ankles, yes, these are the type of beaches God would have designed for himself.

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The weather is also rather special, and very simple. It either rains or it doesn’t. When it doesn’t rain, the sun shines and it is beautiful. When it does rain you get wet. There is almost nothing in between. Most people can get their head around that one. 

God’s hand is seen in no clearer terms than in the fish and birds he has invited to inhabit his islands. And what’s more they are not afraid of humans. Why should they be after all, when these are God’s own islands? More than a thousand species of fish live around the islands, and they have the friendly Aldabra giant tortoises in large numbers as neighbours. Some of the largest colonies of birds in the world inhabit their own islands, and they have a ball there. After all in God’s islands there is something for everyone and every animal and bird and fish.
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 What about the people of these magical islands? There again, God has created a stunning, and unusual combination. He has combined the prodigious talents of those two somewhat querulous brothers, the English and the French, who have enriched the world with their languages and cultures in practically all spheres. Both languages are spoken, and just to spice it up, Creole is thrown in the mix. The result is rich culture, and delightful, happy people who love their islands lent to them by God.
These delightful people have carried on God’s work, and built temples of class and style of the five star variety to cater for those less fortunate than themselves, to grace their islands.

So when visitors come to these islands blessed by God’s fair hand, they come to rest their weary souls, absorb the scenery and culture, partake of the luxury and gifts of nature on offer and once new life has been breathed into them, they return to their busy lives elsewhere, always vowing to return one day to God’s own islands, the Seychelles.
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