14 October 2017
We made it to the Seychelles, and OH is it beautiful here! Totally made the long long flight worth it.
We cashed in our airline miles for award tickets, and the only available tickets were either six days from then, or at the end of October. We went with the six days. Rushed through the usual tasks of laundry, packing for the trip, packing away our cold weather clothes, and booking a place to stay. Fine, we managed all of that.
I really have no idea how long our complete flight took. It went something like this: Bellingham, WA to Seattle on Saturday evening. Overnight in Seattle at an airport hotel. Leave Seattle on Sunday morning for Dallas-Fort Worth. Three or so hours of layover, time for the internet and a light meal. Leave DFW at about 6:30 PM on Sunday, fly all night (14 or so hours) and arrive in Doha, Qatar, at 5:30 PM or so on Monday. Seven or eight hour layover in Doha, leave at 2:40 AM and arrive on Mahe Island, Seychelles, about 9:15 AM on Tuesday.
Yes, two nights while flying. Somewhat back to back. We slept a bit on the first overnight, but were quite tired by the time we landed in Doha, since it was still in the middle of the night in Seattle time. And given so much time at the airport, we found the "quiet rooms" where there are lounge-type chairs, so people can stretch out and sleep.
Now, Qatar is a Muslim country. And when I travel, I dress modestly and am covered, since I get cold on planes. No worries there.
We found the men's quiet room, glassed in, dim lighting, lounge chairs in rows. Next door was the women's quiet room, with frosted glass walls, and presumably the same dim lighting and lounge chairs.
Of course, this caused a bit of a dilemma for us. We had our carryon luggage on a cart. We didn't know if either of us would sleep soundly. We didn't want to be separated for fear of missing our flight somehow. So, after a bit of discussion, we figured it would be better for me to join Richard in the men's quiet room than it would have been had he joined me in the women's quiet room. Neither was optimal, but under the circumstances, less likely to cause a riot.
It was quiet, it was comfortable, I fell asleep. At some point, Richard went off to smoke in the smoking room. I awoke to the sound of two-way radio static and chatter, lowered my scarf from covering my eyes, and found two security guards looking at me. Askance.
I've dubbed them the gender police in my mind.
They told me I needed to go to the women's quiet room, that this was the men's quiet room. I explained that I was with my husband, I motioned to the luggage cart and said I was watching our belongings, and that my husband was in the smoking room right now but that he'd be back. And that we knew he should not come with me into the women's quiet room. They explained that there was a FAMILY quiet room down the corridor, and that we could be together there. I apologized, and told them that we didn't see that. They told me where to find it, and that I should go there. I politely said that I'd go as soon as my husband came back, because if I went by myself, he wouldn't know where to find me. And I apologized again. They were okay with that.
So yeah, I was busted by the gender police. Not jailed, but definitely given a warning. (I thought it was really pretty funny.)
Our flight from Doha to the Seychelles was through the most gorgeous sunrise, complete with views of Venus up in the deep dark blue of the sky. Just an incredible view!
So we arrived in the Seychelles. Got stamped in at Customs and Immigration, and we were met at the airport by our landlady. We've rented a small apartment for a week, which seems popular on the island. These are billed as "self-catering apartments," meaning food is not provided. We're south of the airport (which is south of the capital city, Victoria). On the east coast of Mahe, the main island of the Seychelles.
We have a small community here, with a small supermarket, a few restaurants nearby, and more houses. Plus a small beach maybe five minutes away.
We've rented a car for the weekend, though, and yesterday (Friday) spent a day at some beach way south of here. Not exactly sure where, but it was incredible. Powdery soft white sand, aqua fading to azure water, palm trees lining the shore, and piles of granite boulders forming headlands at each end of the beach. I'll have to get more info about the geology of these islands, because it really is pretty unique.
But the Seychelles are way out in the Indian Ocean. We're just over 1000 miles east of Mombasa, Kenya (that's about 1600 km); 1130 miles northeast of Madagascar (1800 km); 2000 miles to Mumbai, India (3200 km); and 1945 miles to Sri Lanka (also roughly 3200 km).
We're also 4.67 degrees south of the equator, which is why the water is so gorgeously warm. Mid-day can be hot, but the island is relatively small (about 60 sq miles, or 155 sq km) so there is usually a breeze.
For my birding friends - I've seen a red fody, also known as a Madagascar fody - a small bird with a bright red head and shoulders, and black and white wings and tail. The body is sort of red fading to greyish. I swear this little bird was trying to get into our apartment! Or maybe just chasing insects that were climbing on our sliding glass doors.
We also seem to have a family of grey herons living in a stream or estuary at the end of our road. They look somewhat like great blue herons, but the legs and necks are shorter, and the coloration is slightly different.
OH, and of course the flying foxes, the giant fruit bats that fly during the day as well as at night. Little faces really like a fox, with huge leathery wings and tiny little claws. Rather creepy, however fascinating.
That's our first several days in the Seychelles. We're acclimating to being in a time zone just about halfway around the world from what our bodies were used to.
So, more blogging to come as we explore further! And here's a map for reference: