After a long silence, I’m pleased to write again. As always, I am very glad and touched that my readers are worried not to read me regularly enough. I must admit that I was very busy at the end of this school year because of exams (therefore marking), potential moving of the Primary French room and few other tasks. I also felt a bit down because of waiting my results for the DAEFLE but in the end, I…passed the exam!!! Holidays helped me to relieve a bit this anxiety but coming back is like air in Seychelles: hot, humid, suffocating.
Holidays - summer holidays (or austral winter holidays, depending the perspective)
I really enjoyed my long summer holidays. It was sooo good. It is the bright side of teaching, I must say. I think these holidays are more than needed if we do not want teachers to be exhausted and therefore, inefficient.
It has been only a month that we are back and I can see that everybody looks exhausted. I will go back to Reunion Island for a tiny week to see my family. I am really forward to it.
In Europe, we have been to Cadaquès, Catalonia (Spain). Our three days in Salvador Dali’s hometown were nice. We were with my partner’s family and succeeded in reuniting brother and sisters from a very long time. I experienced Tramontana, a strong northern wind (from the Pyrénées Mountains). It reminded me Wellington’s. I swam in 15 degrees water and saw some Mediterranean fishes.
Then we drove back to France and spent a week in Corrèze (centre of France). I really love this region. Landscapes and influences are very diverse.
Then, we took the train to go to la Baule in Brittany. The weather was beautiful and crêpes delicious as usual. I must admit that I prefer Guérande for its atmosphere but we had the chance to discover the charming medieval castle of Blain (with medieval dressed staff please!) and to follow the river channel going from Nantes to Brest.
Our last week in Paris was very quiet. We enjoyed this rest. Apart few catching-ups with family and friends, we walked the streets between les Invalides and the Latin Quarter.
I took the opportunity to see an ophthalmologist in France at the Quinze-Vingt, the national ophthalmology centre. And good news: I am all clear! It is a big relief as I was worried. Few reasons for that: my last check-up was done three years ago but I am meant to be checked every year, I saw some lights (I was probably just tired but we never know and the doctor insisted again in rushing into emergencies in case of suspicion) and poor lifestyle (lack of sleeping and food not fat enough because, yes, you need fat for your brain and your eyes).
The gain of different perspectives
I was very happy to find France less harsh than I thought. I was a bit worried about racism enhanced by recent attacks but no. Summer lightness? Mixed cultures and relationships now more accepted? I do not really know but people sounded a bit more relaxed. I must admit that there was a lot of foreign tourists everywhere we went.
On the other, discussing with some people, we feel a gap growing. The diversity of our experiences is disturbing for some who would like to see us ‘more stable’. But we do not stop to claim to be happy because together and free. It is sometimes way easier to discuss with Anglo-Saxons for whom a professional diversity is considered as fulfilling and gives a wider skills set to a job seeker. It is sometimes very hard to listen to very negative, anxiety-filled criticisms (as they are sterile ant so French). I am not even mentioning those who give us a suspicious look when we say that we are working in Seychelles as they only consider this country as a holiday destination and so, associated only with laziness, which is showing a lack of respect, a narrow mind and anchored clichés).
The freedom of thinking, of facing the reality (the whole processing of a product for instance) and of questioning (of its own way of living, of its ideas, of its certitudes), is very violent for those who prefer to hide into a bubble of comfort and diverse illusions.
I miss a lot people who truly understand me. They are taking me as I am, without judging. I can have a real discussion with them and confront different points of view without being rough toward each other and more than anything, they are supporting me in every circumstance.
I was very happy to meet again my family and friends. In the end, we did not spend a lot of time with each of them, few days and even sometimes only few hours. But these moments were so precious. I felt ‘dipped into love’ in staying with them. I also took the opportunity to do some skypes (as the Internet connexion in Seychelles is quite slow) but on the other hand, it let me sad not to see them in person.
The weather is supposed to be windy and fresh now but we are already suffering from a very humid heat and dark clouds are threatening us every day. It is again a bad news for my shoes! Again, I feel trapped into the wheel of time. I feel like it is Monday and suddenly Friday without having the time to wink. It is not a good feeling. The saddest is that I am going to bed early (8.30pm!!), I am eating properly and I even do sport now but I am feeling stunned by exhaustion from dawn to dusk.
My brother left me Charles Bukowski’s 'Ham on rye’. It was interesting, sometimes raw but interesting. would like to read something else from him.
I’m back to Victor Hugo with ‘Ninety three’. Those times, I have been so tired that my reading pace is very slow. But now, I have more time to dedicate to reading as we have a surprise in Seychelles.
Plague in Seychelles
The first ‘case’ of plague in Seychelles was recorded about a month ago. A basketball trainer died of plague back from a trip to Madagascar, where his team went to play for a match. All the team had been placed in quarantine.
The second ‘case’ (I’m keeping brackets as there are imported cases, non-local) was recorded few days ago. A man, coming back from Madagascar, was meant to stay home as he had suspicious symptoms. Unfortunately, this man went to a party on last Friday evening in a restaurant in Victoria, the Chilli Bar. This restaurant usually held parties and that night, it held three at the same time. One was ours, the International School Seychelles Teachers’ party. The other parties were meant to end before ours as the premises are not very big and sound systems very efficient. Guests from the other party had to go through ours to access the toilets so we’ve seen few of them.
Tuesday evening, I received a message from a friend and I thought that it was a joke. The school will be closed for 6 days from Wednesday to prevent the plague. I had to go the next morning at 9am at a medical centre in town to receive a treatment. Other colleagues confirmed it. I did not sleep well that night as I did not know if I will be given pills or injection and knowing as well as ridiculously sensitive I can be sometimes (allergy to an anti-malaria treatment and incredible reaction to a common vitamin tablet).
Plague is a big thing. It was not ‘just’ about food poisoning, even if it could be lethal as well in some cases. We are talking about pulmonary plague, the one which decimate in 24 to 72 hours. Therefore, it is awakening a powerful medieval imaginary, full of mountains of corpses in the streets, improvised stakes and polyphonic groans. So we become a bit paranoid, being attentive to any cough. Any swallow become then suspicious.
Wednesday morning, I was shocked to see colleagues with paper masks. Everybody was between fear and humour to take some distance with the situation. I was even more shocked when medical staff was in medical overalls, handing things from a distance to avoid any contact. But it is something that I completely understand. It is just a big mirror, sending back our image of potential plague victims.
Until now, I do not have any symptoms. Everybody present at the party that night, including myself, were worried about our closest partners and family not receiving the same treatment as we had. We did not have detail about incubation and contagion as well. The doctor who received me was abrupt and also insulted me because I was asking a simple question. Then I did not want to ask him any other question. I know doctors see a lot of hard things (even if they never faced a plague epidemic in Seychelles for sure) but I think there is a way of staying professional and correct when people _potential sick people_ are asking questions. Anyway…
From this moment, other schools closed down for few days, just in case. The sick man is in hospital. I do not know if he is recovering or if it is getting worse but we do know that his wife and child are also developing the plague.
I have to stay home for more three days, trying to avoid a maximum to go out and of course, any crowded place. I have an antibiotic treatment.
Wednesday, I went by bus in town. Colleagues living in my area kindly drove me back home but I was a bit worried about taking the bus again next week. Well, we will see…
However, I received a call and a visit from the medical centre today for a follow up. They came to my house and check my temperature. They said they would do it for the next 6 days. The government put in place a follow up: I received a text message about the launching of hotline to get information about the plague.
Individual responsibility and individualism
This situation is asking a lot of questions. Did this man acted in a responsible manner? Did he think about the risk he was taking for his family and friends, and even to his whole country in case of a real epidemic? And if we are not following instructions given, are we individually conscious about the risk for the others? Nothing is stopping us to close our door and to go for a walk. Who is checking if we do not have any friends or family visiting? What do we need to raise individual consciousness?
Perversion of political systems lies here. As in Madagascar and other post-socialist and post-communist lands, individualism is spreading and hitting as a disease. For too long under the heavy weight of collectivism, the individual is losing his temper and do not care about risks, mutual assistance and other collaborative concepts. Too frustrated and teased by the illusion of shiny capitalism, humans are burning their wings and their souls in the fire of consumerism and selfishness.
On the contrary, we saw in Australia, land of ultra-capitalism, impressive community guardians. But do we need to go to the extremes to find peers? For now, unfortunately, I cannot argue with this hypothesis.
Today, individual responsibility sounds to be an idea too rarely understood and applied by locals and expats. Fortunately for me, I’m hanging out with conscious ones. But others can sometimes make me feel very sad.