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.
Back to school
After a solid rest, I am back to school from two weeks. I’m happy to meet again my students. I took some distance about my mission. I am assisting French teachers and my missions is not to be a teacher following FLE (Français Langue Etrangère – French as a Foreign Language). I am currently studying these methods but I need to adapt them. I need to stay flexible and not to feel failure when it is taking time to see methods applied.
I’m also going back to studying and revisions. I missed my DAEFLE (Diplôme d’Aptitude à l’Enseignement du Français Langue Etrangère – Diploma of Teaching French as a Foreign Language) exam in December 2016 but I am back to fight back and now, I’m feeling more confident. I rebuilt this confidence during the holidays. It was probably too ambitious to try the exam after what happened in Madagascar.
Strenght of teachers
I admire teachers and their work. They give a lot of attention to students.
I see the other side of the mirror today. I always felt miles away of this world, even if my mother was a Early Childhood teacher. My only position was the pupil one.
Talking about perception, it is true that it is fascinating. The day I have been a customer at the restaurant I have been waitressing for a long time in Adelaide, Australia, i twas a real delight. I was sad to read that they closed down. Of course, I always wanted to satisfy, guessing desires but it is something else to change of position and to actually live it.
I am very happy to see my students of the Secondary French club. I meet again the same serious and attentive students. It is a real motivation for me as I know that they are waiting for me as I am waiting for them.
When I discuss with them, I have the impression to open the door onto a new universe and new possibilities.
We do not have a television and I must admit that I do not miss it. It is sometimes surprising for people when we are talking. They usually ask me if I am not feeling about being cut out from the world.
I did not have any in Adelaide for two years and I did not miss it either. I prefer reading, writing, playing music and having more time to do things such as crossed words or a Scrabble. ‘Antique’ activities.
We got a French enigma board game at a night market.
After the last episode (see the previous post), I thought it would be good to know the right thing to do when someone is drowning. I have learnt first aid during my studies in Australia but nothing like the proper way to grab someone unsconscious in the water without choking her or him.
So I contacted the local swimming club and someone is ready to teach me the right thing to do. There is no official certification in Seychelles (anyway, I could probably not do it because of my poor sight) but it is not my interest. It would be only to know how to rescue someone in case of.
In kreol seselwa, they are using the expression ‘soleil carême’ (Lenth sun) to define this burning sun and hellish heat of April. 46 degrees in Australia were a different torture. The high rate of humidity in here is worse for me and it is very difficult to move without sweating.
Unfortunately, I had to give up on ‘Poulet Bicyclette et Cie’. Too harsh for me for now. I will read it later but now, I do not want to read this collection of very rough short stories. I got Victor Hugo’s 'The man who laughs’ (probably not sweeter but at least, a bit diluted).
We uploaded few podcasts and in our selection, a radio program called ‘Temporium’. They are not journalists but it is well done. They are maybe students or even History teachers. They did a series about Victor Hugo and the passion of the presenter made me more curious about his books.
After Victor Hugo’s ‘The man who laughs’, I wanted someting lighter. I took a random book, Katarina Mazetti’s 'The guy from the grave next door’ (poor translation). I was a bit afraid of a cheesy romantism but in the end, it was not that bad. Even if the very last pages left me a bit puzzled… I will reveal the end but I would like to have your opinion about it.
After the end of ‘The guy from the grave next door’, my curiosity was teased and I have found by luck the next episode ‘The family grave’. It was funny as in the end, I did like it. It just took me time to admit it. It was good but it is reinforcing some of my ideas…
I totally ate and enjoyed Daniel Pennac’s ‘School sorrow’ for its vision about school, students, teaching. I also read Philippe Labro’s ‘Falling seven times, stand up eight’. First, i twas too pretentious for me and then, I revised my judgement.
I dived into Patrick Modiano’s ‘Rue des Boutiques Obscures’. My little brother left me French magazines, Fluide Glacial (adult comics) and Echo des Savanes (acidicmagazine). They made my day. We should receive a fantastic mazagine called La Revue Dessinée at the Alliance française, I cannot wait. This magazine is designed as a comics but it is actually reports done by journalists.
A two days escape at La Digue was like a glimpse of paradise. Until the very last moment, Mahé buses rose up stress. It is useless to wake up earlier as buses came only at 7am this day. Unfortunately, we had to be at the boarding gate at 7am. But, fortunately, we had half an hour before really leaving the port.
This weekend was a true meeting with nature. A small boat took us near Coco Island and Félicité Island. We did some snorkelling and admired the beautiful marine fauna. It was amazing! Experienced divers will probably laugh at me but for me, it really was heaven. We have met five almost friendly turtles, all kind of fishes, a ray, two small sharks (“pointes noires”). From the boat, we saw six dolphins gently swimming. The instructor went a bit further without us and came back with octopus. I was fascinated by the color of suckers: almost fluorescent.
This immersion into this world is deeply fascinating and one more time, I find it good as it places human being to a more humble place, at least the one he should sometimes take. Facing the first shark, I must admit adrenaline made my blood running fast once. It was not panic but we could say rush. The second time, it was not fear. Let’s say I was more observing. It was more scared of me then I was from it. We were on shallow waters with lots of currents and it was surely not comfortable. The day after, I kept this feeling of harmony and fascination. It was so beautiful! I did not want to touch fish. It was the very last thing I wanted to do. Simply witnessing these movements of school of fish, like a veil blown by the wind, this school of other fish grazing coral, similar to butterflies sipping nectar on flowers, light glowing on their scales like the opening and closing of wings.
This beauty and peace surrounded me for a while but _unfortunately_, I’m still following my reflexions about human impact on nature. How would you hurt these creatures? I’m not telling about never fishing and eating fish and octopus ever but about organising gloomy industrial fishing, scraping the bottom of the sea, sea and barrier reef pollution. What does it worth to us to think about sharing this magnificent underwater life with our future generations?
Another escape to Saint-Anne Marine Park was quite relaxing. It was a very different experience as we were on a very big catamaran with 50 other fellows. I’m not that bothered by the number (except that some of them took ages to do simple things and were wondering and lost themselves where you cannot lose yourself) but I was more about attitudes. As residents, we benefit good deals and tourists coming in here are mostly quite wealthy. Some attitudes of those people make absolutely no sense for me.
We had a buffet on board for lunch. I did not understand a man sitting on the next table emptying his plate with ‘waste’ (which did not look at all like rubbish to me) and who went back to the buffet to get...exactly the same thing! At this table, they got an extra plate to put their ‘rubbish’ into it. It was forming a little hill. I had to turn back to calm myself and watch beautiful islands...
To mention more positive things than me throwing people over board, we saw a peaceful ray and follow it, not too close to let it breathes. We also saw fishes than we did not see anywhere else.
The Treasure Hunt and the Francophonie
Students from Secondary, part of the “Club de français”, participated to the Treasure Hunt organised by the Alliance française des Seychelles for the Francophonie celebration and the Week of the French Language. We prepared a bit this event in looking for vocabulary about treasure hunt and orientation. I’ve checked French History of the Seychelles and tried to identify French places in Victoria. It is a fantastic History. ‘Pirates of the Carribean’ is a bit pale compared to it.
It is a bit of shame that local History has not a bigger place in the curriculum...
This hunt had been real fun, even if I probably have lost few litres of water running in the hellish heat of the afternoon. Our team, ‘Scorpions’, solved enigmas leading us to the National Library to see the stone attesting of the French possession, to the Pierre Poivre’s bust, to the Bel-Air cemetery where were buried many pirates amongst first French settlers (and a giant!) and to the Ecole française. I wanted to film the students to get good memories but they were running like mad and I was more focused on any potential dangers (crossing roads, keeping the group together...) and not losing my things. Anyway, I did lose my bus pass...
In the end, everybody was happy to participate and was wondering when would be the next one. It was the first time the Alliance was organising something like this and in my opinion, it was a real success. Of course, few were critical (but they are French!) but in general, everybody enjoyed it.
For celebrating the Francophonie, we also did a visit to the Alliance française’s library with ISS students. I’ve seen extremes with one class with misbehaviour and the second one with exemplarity. It is always so enjoyable to teach students who want to learn. I imagine this is the dream of all teachers.
My parents visited me during my holidays and we went together on La Digue and Praslin with the catamaran (see previous post).
After going through turquoise waters of the Saint-Anne Marine Park (among Saint-Anne, Moyenne, Longue and Cerf islands), we went to Praslin. The sea was calm and the pace quiet. It was beautiful to see islands from far. I felt in love with Silhouette’s shape. Something mysterious is calling me onto this island. I’m fascinated by it probably because I know there is a wonderful nature trail crossing primary forest over there...
We anchored in Saint-Anne Bay in Praslin. The night was quiet.
We visited the World Heritage’s Vallée de Mai. We were a bit like Lilliputians walking on a forest. François went back to Mahé for work and we kept on sailing, following Praslin’s shores up to Anse Lazio. We went close to Curieuse Island which looked beautiful, with turquoise waters. We went through our first rain there. My father told me about ‘la risée’. This wind wrinkles the surface of the sea and announces rainy weather, which could be tricky as irregular winds change things for a sailing boat.
We anchored around 4pm in Anse Lazio. My father and I wanted to swim a bit from the boat to the beach. We were about 200 meters from the shore. I had my palms on and my father had my brother’s which are bodyboard ones, shorter than standard ones. There were not a lot of fish. I just saw a turtle when we went back. We were swimming at the same pace but I saw my father swimming on his back. At one point, he asked me to go and get a floater. We were not that far from the boat. I rushed to the boat and asked my mother to throw it at me so I could give it to him. I must admit I was really worried that he collapsed. He felt weak and took several minutes to go back up onto the boat. He told me I ‘saved his life’ but I only gave me a floater.
Saying this, we are now equal. I had to recall him because he forgot but he saved me once. I was 13 or 14 when he grabbed me as I was slipping into the icy water of a mountain pond in Reunion Island. Algae made the stone really slippery and I could not talk because of the thermal shock. We were doing a nature trail and it was really hot.
We were lucky because there were a shark attack in 2013 in Anse Lazio...
The night there was agitated. We had lots of wind and rain. I went on the deck around 11pm and I could see worried silhouettes on other boats. It was so beautiful to see, these ebony waves. Small waves were shaking the boat like thousands of tiny hands.
The next morning, we saw mora rays turning around the boat. My father and the captain were thinking there was maybe a shark around, as they usually stick to them. But then, we saw them stuck onto the hull: we were the shark!
The day after, we went to La Digue, going north of Curieuse. We anchored facing Grand Anse. The night was calm, only punctuated by lightening and light storm.
The next morning, we went on the land. We took the dingy. We could see waves from the boat on the beach but we took our chance and went. Everything was ok, we pulled the dingy high enough for not being carried by the sea. The sea was calm.
We walked from Grand Anse to la Passe and came back by taxi. It was around 4pm. It was quite hot. I had a little swim in these crystal-clear waters. There were few waves but nothing too bad. However, they had a weird movement I saw before in Reunion Island. They were breaking towards the beach but formed a second wave going towards the sea.
Then, it was time to get the dingy back to the sea. We knew we had to wait the good time and push the harder we could. But my mother is not a mountain of muscles and would be closer to a underfed hobbit and mine is not far from it (except the height). My father and the captain had more strength but the waves were powerful. In a spectacular failure, the dingy took water, without returning but a young French guy, witnessing our difficulties, came to give a hand in order to cross the line of waves. When I’m thinking back about this guy, so discreet, not asking anything, just helping out, I’m really grateful to him, to this endangered species of humble and helpful people. My father was alone with the only row on the dingy and was going away from waves in order to avoid going back on the shore. Waves caught me and took me down as I was pushing the dingy. This day, I had my glasses on. I just gave their expensive price few minutes ago (as I’m not covered because of my eyesight is not bad enough, even if I cannot further than 50 cms). I was really afraid of losing them: things would have been really bad for me otherwise. Fortunately, I was quick enough to grab them on time.
I wanted to join my father with the second row as the engine was drown but my mother and the captain thought it was too dangerous to do so. I was really worried that my father felt bad. I could see him rowing and that it was an effort (as walking, pushing the dingy from and into the water). I was worried because of the day before.
So he rowed up to the catamaran for about 200 meters. Once again, I thought I should swim to him. The sea was calm and the water still clear. Then the light started to fade and did not want to take risks (as sharks attack at sunset and waves could go bigger). We had no way of communication with him. People on the beach were watching us and some, according to the captain, were even taking photos and filming.
My father took back the dingy and wanted to come back and collect us. We all agreed that it was a bad idea and that crossing waves was dangerous. We tried to shout but he could not hear us as he was too far. At one point, against my mother and the captain’s will, I swam to him. I couldn’t let him rowing alone. My mother and the captain were afraid of swimming.
Glasses on, I swam. Not too fast, as I know stress can significantly strength, but quicker enough as I did not know about his health condition. I came up onto the dingy and rowed to go back to the catamaran, a bit against my father’s will. Once on board, we tried to contact another catamaran staying in the next bay, Petite Anse. We put the talkie onto the emergency frequency, 16. We sent a message in French and English. Nothing at all.
I asked my father which signs we are supposed to do in case of emergency, things to know. He showed me signs to do. I did them towards the other boat. Nothing at all.
I finally took my mobile phone, which is really water-resistant. I called the taxi driver. I still had his number on a tiny bit of paper, which, fortunately, did not join fish during the waves crossing. I explained the situation in French first. Then, he passed me someone else so I explained again the situation in English. Then I passed the phone to my father which explained the situation in Mauritian creol...in vain.
Looking back at the situation, I’m feeling lucky to know at least three languages. I would have been much harder if I was speaking only Russian for example...
Of course, I tried to discourage my father to go back on the dingy and go again towards the beach...in vain. I kept on waving my hands at the cata staying in Petite Anse. I even thought they saw me at one point as a dingy came to them. No answer. At this moment, I think I’m really lucky not to have something really dramatic such as a heart attack or someone victim of a shark attack on board. Non-assistance to people in danger will not be use in front of a tribunal then...
A fishing boat with tourists finally appeared. He is answering to my signs (finally!!) and come closer to me. I’m explaining to them the situation. They went to see my father and dragged him to the catamaran as my mother and the captain disappeared from the shore...
We did not really know what to do.
In the end, a small fishing boat came straight at us and on board there was... my mother and the captain! The captain offered them money to go back on the catamaran. Fishermen told us not to stay there as it could be dangerous. We stayed in Petite Anse for the night.
After this episode, a contact from the French embassy told that Grand Anse was the most dangerous place in La Digue because of waves...
Despite all this agitation, I’m really happy to be on holidays and the sweet rest. I finally know the joy of sleeping in and beach escapades. I had the chance to see rays jumping out of the water and doing big splashes. According to scientists, they are doing so to attract females but it is only hypothesis...
The future of Teaching French in Seychelles
I had the chance to go to a meeting about Teaching French in Seychelles at the University of Seychelles. An extract from a Courteline’s theatre play by students reactivated my nostalgia of acting. I’m missing this thrill.
Teaching French is a challenge in Seychelles. The language is not the youth favourite one. Some of them even fear it. Young and older Seychellois are afraid of doing mistakes when speaking. Teachers know they need help in training. Maybe it was at a time associated to more rigid Church teaching...Moreover, the country went totally English with the Commonwealth...
However, kreol Seselwa is clearly French-based, as it’s syntax shows. Few English words here and there.
I came across an interesting discover when chatting with a Mauritian living here. He told me that colours are not the same in Seselwa. My surprise was complete when he asked a Seychellois working closer to come and talk about this difference.
First, he showed her grey bench and asked her which colour it was. She said: ‘Cend’, which I could guess what the kreol version of the French ‘cendres’ (ashes). Then, she said ‘gris’ (grey in French) when he showed a brown leather bag (I was quite confused at this point) and then ‘rouz’ (rouge in French so red) when he pointed at my skin, as for any mixed complexion. But the more intriguing is that when Seychellois speak English, colours are going back to ‘normal’ (in the end, it is just a point of view, right?).
I have to check that my Kreol-speaking students are not confused with colours!
I read Åke Edwardson’s ‘Shadow and Sun’. I was quite dark so I asked my favourite librarian a recommendation. So I read Franz Bartelt’s ‘Le fémur de Rimbaud’.
I read a very interesting series of comics about cathares called ‘Le Dernier Cathare’ (The Last Cathare). Realling interesting.
I went to the National Library and I was surprised to find a really and expensive French selection. I’ve borrowed Florent Couao-Zotti’s ‘Poulet-bicyclette et Cie’. They have heaps of French-speaking African authors. It reminds me a poster seen at the Alliance française about the Young French-speaking Writer or something like this. If lots of countries had one figure participants, Bénin had about 44!
The National Library premises were just renovated and it is really nice. And the membership is free!
My contract with the Département de la Réunion was just renewed and I’m really happy about it! I will have the chance to enjoy Seychelles for one more year!
We spend a quiet life here in Seychelles. I’m still enjoying tropical weather and I’m lucky to have a job. It will soon be the Week of the French Language and the Francophonie celebration. The Alliance française des Seychelles is organising a Treasure Hunt and I’m really happy to participate with my students from the club de français (secondary). They are very excited and me too!! The Alliance is also organising activities on the 20th March, day of the Francophonie celebration. I hope to see some of my students overthere...
I’m still caught in a fast pace at school. Managing both primary and secondary at the same time is not easy. I feel like I cannot really concentrate on a specific one. I feel like I don’t have enough time and distance to face everything. Primary can be exhausting sometimes. It is not that all secondary classes are quiet but I prefer to deal with them. I admire my colleagues, which deserve a big clap.
With tiredness and the feeling of time flying, eternal questions about my choice and uncommon life come back like mosquitoes. I know I should not fall into this easy trap. I had the chance to meet people who gave me the strength to go beyond these pressures of the occidental society.These people are occidental themselves but their point of view about life is so original. I’ve not seen them for a long time and the explanation of my weakening probably lies in it. But still, I’m from this world and it is difficult to completely cut the mooring ropes. And I have to do with people thinking this way...
I feel like psychological exhaustion alters my perception and doubt is slowly eating me. Did I make the right choice? Why I fail (what is success)? What do I like in the end?
The impact of the attack in Madagascar was maybe underestimated, Australia and New-Zealand mourning not digested... But I feel a little better reading the website Retourenfrance.fr, especially about expats (and other categories of migrants) coming back in France, their professional life and identity.
Something is weird to me in the morning on my way to school. I see big and small trucks full of workers standing like cattle in open-skies skips. I’m not sure someone would care about these people in case of incident.
A Seychelloise told me that it was a common practice to sit at the back of a truck in Seychelles but only few people, usually from the family or friends. But in mornings, they are usually Indians, standing straight and could be up to 20 in small trucks.
The sea call
My father came to visit me. He is co-skipper on a sailing boat which crossed the Indian ocean. They left from Thailand and came to the Seychelles via Sri Lanka, where they quickly stopped. I went on board and I must admit that it is waking up my taste for adventure! My father was in the merchant navy for few years and he wanted to go back sailing.
This life on a boat looks quite tempting. Of course, you have to buy the boat, to pay for the maintenance, organise subsistence but it should be incredible to see land from the sea, to see sea birds and more than anything, to see glowing plankton at night. My father told me about it and it looks as magical as glowing worms in Tasmania...
I understand his will of facing natural elements. It should be great to feel like one with the sea. In a tempest or when the weather is good and that the boat is sliding on a smooth sea, we only are a tiny shell, a drop of this very same ocean...
The Malagasy bond
I sometimes have some news from Madagascar but a recent one was really filling me with joy. I was supervising trainees when I was working for the Centre de Presse Malagasy in Antananarivo. One of them wrote to me about very good news: he passed her exams, has a Master with Honours and the jury congratulations! I am so happy for her!! She is a hard worker, devoted person, which deserves this success! Future Malagasy businesswoman, I wish her the best for her future!
She thanked me for my advices and support but I did not do anything. I’m just sharing her joy!
But it is very sad to hear bad news such as the country was hit by a cyclone (Enowa) and did a lot of damages. Unfortunately, it is like this in the Indian Ocean. Every cyclone is finishing its route in Madagascar...
My reading pace went a bit down those days. Formats changed. I came back a bit to my little sin, comics. I read few albums of a collection about World War One, ‘1914-1918’ and a good comics about French sorcery, ‘Charmes fous’.
I alsoread Antoine Abel’s ‘Une tortue se rappelle...’ (Memories of a turtle), an avant-garde ecological tale written in 1975! I’m just starting Fred Vargas’s ‘Dans les bois éternels’.
Fish, fish, fish
We went South and visited Anse Intendance (very windy, lots of currents, quite dangerous). We did snorkelling in Anse Royale in late afternoon. Usually, we snorkel between 10am and 2pm. I think we did not see the same fishes at that time. I saw sea horses. They are not so easy to spot as they look like seaweed when swimming.
My partner was lucky to see a ray.
I was on the beach watching our things, more preoccupied about jet skis coming very close to swimmers.
We had again more rain. It is tough on shoes. One of my pairs just torn out. Glues disappear with heat and humidity finish leather sandals.
In the bus, when you’re standing, sitting people get your bags in an absolute silence. First, of course, our fears of being stolen make us widen eyes. But bags given back, always in silence, teach you to trust. This strange exchange is made without words but also without look.
Buses accept standing passengers and you could stay like this for a while. You had to quickly grab something quickly to hold firmly (the driver let you few seconds before starting brutally); I almost felt my shoulder going out in a curve recently...!
Students’ joy is a great delight. In the end, can we really be happy alone? Happiness is in sharing.
On the other hand, I’ve been really disappointed by some students behaviour when showing videos about why learning French. I should not but I took it personally. It is not my patriotism which was hurt (maybe...) but it was just a shame to see that some Seychellois denigrate a part of themselves. They are not aware that they are more French than they think. Their History and genes are French.
I’ve finished Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Light that Failed’ and it was a good surprise. Even if I’m not really into war descriptions, this novel offered way more than just adventure. I took this book, almost by chance at the Alliance française’s library. I enjoyed reading ‘The Jungle Book’ in its original version (in English) recently. I thought that another Kipling would not be that risky to read. I was not expecting to come across one of the theme that follows me for a moment now and which feeds one of my biggest fear.
I did not believe into destiny when I was younger. I refused the idea that ‘things were written’. But recurrent coincidences happening changed my point of view. Without thinking that your path is already done and that you cannot escape it, I realise that I’ve seen Lars Von Trier’s ‘Dancer in the Dark’ and ‘The Lobster’, in which the theme of blindness is developed. Just like some of my favourite songs, The Smashing Pumpkins’s ‘Porcelina of the Vast Oceans’.
With ‘The Light that Failed’ (a war press correspondent-painter suddenly turning blind), I fear to find clues towards a fate.
I’ve not seen an optometrist for a while and the risk is still there. I fear so much this eternal night. From something like 10 years, this Damocles sword is threatening to fall. My retinas, full of holes and repaired, could give up one day. Panic first shook me. Then I tried to take some distance with it, to see the bright side of the situation. It turns the septic/melancholic girl I was into someone who loves life and who wants to enjoy it. I still want to enjoy it but I know that I could lose and it scares me.
‘Bettý’ was quite surprising and in line with the reputation of Scandinavians and Icelanders.
There is a strange fashion in Seychelles : perfuming. The association of Indian Ocean and perfume leads me to Mayotte, also known as ‘The Perfume Island’ for its great variety of aromatic flowers and plants. I had the chance to confirm it when I was hiking in nature over there and being enchanted by sweet and delicate flora fragrances.
In here, I loved vegetal scents on the way to Anse Major, along a nature trail. It brought us on a tropical forest and then to coastal path among giant curvy granite blocks and falls.
However, the closer we get from the humans, the more aggressive it can be. My nose has been attacked few times. These words are chosen as there is nothing else I can compare this terrible smell of old perfume of which only stays the alcohol meant to fix it. These attacks happened in the bus in the morning and sometimes even on the street when I was unfortunate enough to cross this heavy halo. I thought you did not need to be a specialist to know that perfume can go off with heat and that in here, you cannot really escape it _except living with air conditioning, which is the case of some people but I blame them when they have to go out on the street_. I fear the worst as I’ve been told few times that heat will be serious from March. I was disgusted enough by the contact of the sweaty moist of the skin contact of the person sitting next to me in the bus...
On the contrary and unfortunately, these perfume addicts do not know about hormone disruptors presence and that daily aspersion could give men a proper breast and stimulate hair growing for female on the torso...I discovered this information a while ago, when I was working for a health and nutrition website, Santé la Vie. It was a great chance to work for this media freed from pressures. Unfortunately, economic censorship and auto-censorship is common, big drug companies threaten and/or buy media but we were free and able to lead investigations as we wanted.
Still about buses, I like to observe people and more than anything, witness civics on this environment. I knew Parisian wilderness, Australian order, Malagasy politeness and now, I’m facing Seychelles non-civics. You may find my words tough and could blame me for such a easy and quick judgment from someone who just arrived few weeks ago (a month and half now). But, twice, I’ve given my seat to elders and no one was ready to do so. This idea of these persons not having consideration is very difficult to picture for me. But I need to balance my speech as someone surprised me in pushing herself a bit to offer me a bit of room on the bench seat. In buses, you have bench seats for 2 and ones for 3. Usually, people sit when they want and never move after, except to get down. You do not squeeze for the new comers to have some room and sit. They have to stand or to try to find a way through, sometimes meeting sitting people’s knees.
The adjective fixed means something in here.
Absence of civics is intriguing; polystyrene take-away boxes are thrown just next to bins and plastic waste happily thrown by teenagers in buses in the end of the afternoon. So, thought _or more absence of thinking_ of these absurd people is not comprehensive for me. Who would defecate next to toilets?
My partner and I are oftenly picking up waste on the beach (industrial cakes wrapping and other plastic waste that turtles might choke with), keeping them until the next bin. To see such waste in pristine nature is such a disgrace. How can people do that?
This revolt boiling in me is not for me; it is for future generations which will not be able to see what I see and to do what I’m doing today. The very first and most important step of this process of awareness stands in behaviour and individual responsibility.
But as for everything, you have one thing and its contrary. The Kindness, consciousness, environmental practices of my colleague are giving me hope. This woman from Praslin is a great woman. We are sharing this will of creating the minimum waste and offering many lives to objects. Her ingenuity is surprising; she created chemises with cereals boxes that could be easily displayed in trendy shops. And her generosity is lavishing me on soursops, mangoes and other sweets.
Our snorkelling adventures led us to see incredible fishes. We saw the whole spectre of the rainbow, including fluorescent and deep colours. We swam into a giant aquarium, few meters away from the shore, in Port Launay. It was a breathtaking beauty. Calm and balance filled in my being. These creatures were moving without any fear, some of them were even curious about us. I was thinking back of Le Clézio’s ‘Chercheur d’or’, when he describes Saint-Branbon island, a place where creatures were not fearing men and came to them. A terrible description of men killing turtles which coming to them...
How can we end this beauty? Who are we to do so? Without scourging ourselvers or hoping mankind’s ending, can we hope for a balance and a minimum of respect?
I recently watched a wide audience movie, a comedy. This 2016 movie was summarizing the spirit of the times with regular teasings, nasty friends (almost bad) and more than anything, putting down any form of respect. It had an interesting message about the use and abuse of ethics in marketing but that was it. No depth. Sure, mainstream is not meant to deliver intellectual debate. But without falling into the ‘it was better before’, comedies were more clever and bringing more interesting messages, even in the 80’s. How did we fall into this? This decadence, this baseness, this poverty?
...and vegetal beauty
Even if civics is not common into it, I must admit that the Seychelles public transport network is efficient and affordable. For only 5 rupees (standard fare), you can go from North to South and go onto stunning roads. Victoria-Port Launay via Sans-souci is just amazing. We left the heavy coastal heat to go up into the freshness of tropical forest. I love to dive into this luxuriant nature so quickly in here. These tropical undergrowth are like a freshness oasis. This winding road is the beginning of many nature trails on my to-do list. The surrounds of the Morne Blanc are beautiful and this green horizon makes me think of Indiana Jones’s adventures.
As usually, my head is working like a machine to fight fatality. Of course, I’m limited: time, capacities, everything. But Esperance flame is there. And my mission about education is shining like a star. I will not change the world. I’m only trying to plant seeds. I’m trying to transmit what I can: quotes, authors ‘names, songs titles, movies, comics...To draw a ‘treasure map’ for these students thirsty of learning, discovering and pushing their own boundaries.
I ate Katherine Pancol’s ‘Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles’. I read all the other episodes of this series and I was the first one last. It is not the first time I’m reading a cycle the wrong way. My first was Anne Rice’s Vampire cycle. I started with the Tale of the Body Thief (and in English please!). I love so much this author.
I took Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Light that Failed’ and Arnaldur Indridason’s ’Bettý’.
From the ‘Jardin du Roy’, I preferred ‘Le Garçon Boucher’.
Playing piano was as good as swimming _finally!_. First impressed by the high volume of this study piano, I then let my hands running onto the keyboard. It is funny to play piano in such itinerant manner. Pianos are like people. First, we meet. I’m playing to know how it is going. Sometimes they are a bit old and even sick (just like in my post about Prospect Road piano in Adelaide, Australia). And then, we start to engage a conversation: I’m playing more and it is saying me more things. And then, we discuss and harmony is giving me goose pump. I love differences I’ve found in every single one of them. It is like a character trait. For detuned ones, it is giving them an old-fashion charm that could even led us to go to a specific style, tack piano. I’m always sad to leave them...like people who I had a good chat with. As they all inspired me a different way. It is funny. They have like a secret melody, only revealed to players who dare to touch them, these study pianos left aside.
Buses in here remind me of Harry Potter’s, rushing with madness. We can still see them but they are driving so fast.
Choir Festival – Seychelles voices
I volunteered for the Choir Festival, organised by our school, the International Seychelles School. I was in charge of opening and closing the curtain, a great responsibility. I had the chance to watch the show for backstage. I was delighted by the National Choir of Seychelles. Members of the choir told me they recently went to Reunion Island and that Reunionese came in here.
Trip to Baie Lazare
It was really paradise on Earth. Transparent water, thin sand, everything was there. Weekends are the occasion to go to the beach and enjoy the Beauty of Seychelles. We feel like on holidays for two days. These escapes offer an incredible quality of life. My only regret is not to be able to explore the island by bicycle. It is way too dangerous to ride a bicycle in here because of the traffic and narrow roads.
I’ve finished Le Clézio’s ‘Le chercheur d’or’ and I really enjoyed it. It was a beautiful book. The turtle’s massacre was really difficult to read. The worst is that it is still happening in some places.
I’m now diving into Britain author Philippe Le Gall’s ‘Le Jardin du Roy’. The first novel is a bit...weird.
Sweetness of living
I don’t think there are small pleasures here but only pleasures. I love to taste the vieille (local fish) fish flesh, such a delicate flesh...At the market, I find similar vegetables and fruits to Reunion Island: chouchous, brèdes (leaves like spinach), taro and other bananas. Prices are decent and allow living normally. I was thinking back about my Parisian miserable life, about the fact that I will not be able to go ever backwards and accept to live in a 10m2 flat, counting my money to buy pasta with tomato paste.
We cannot say life is easy in Seychelles. Like everywhere, we have to work for living and Seychelles’s economy is dependant from the global economy but if you live without great expectations, life is sweet.
The taste of everyday life
Days are going quickly. They are full but I feel like time is flying (supersonic speed). Or I’m enjoying too much this experience and good times are quickly spent. Because, it is true, I love everything. I love morning’s quietness, landscape going so fast in the bus, horizon made of bread tree giant and serrated leaves, interest of students which are intrigued by the sentence I wrote on the board and that I did not explained (on purpose, to test their curiosity), the music of the kreol Seselwa (which I mainly understand, even if I still cannot get all of it). Everyday life has such a lovely taste for me...
A lot of nationalities are represented on the islands. The whole world is close. It reminds me of a very nice couple welcoming us in Auckland via AirBnB. I remember that they told us they couldn’t travel for now so they had the whole world at their place. I think I would love to follow this path when I will stop travelling.
Yes, I confess, I love hiding details for curious students, letting information like stones on the wisest ones. I always loved secrets, enigmas and surprises. So I really enjoyed myself in bringing partners to unknown destinations, hiding messages into unexpected places. I’m trying to give back what life is generally offering me: good surprises. Of course, I had bad moments but I’m grateful for my fate in general. I’m not to blame: I’m in good health (touching wood), I’m doing things that I like or I’m finding some interest for, I’m not wanted by gangs and I don’t have astronomic debts.
But most important, the little bit of way achieved did not turned me bitter or blasé. On the contrary, I keep my astonishment ability intact. I even fall in love again and again, especially of French language. I always loved it but teaching it, transmitting it is drawing me a new perspective.
Mahé is like a green bower, luxuriant nature. I had the chance to go for a visit at the Jardin de l’Ambassadeur, Kot Man-Ya and it was amazing. This former Ambassador of Seychelles (France and United States of America) is living his passion for few years now.
I’ve been told about this slower pace in Seychelles. I would not say slow. Slow comparing to? What for this occidental frenetic race? Where is it going? Of course, there are areas which need to be fast-paced like health for instance. But except those areas, why running towards devouring consumerism? Yes, life is easy in here, with sun, fertile ground and regular rain. But even under other skies, why did we break this obvious bond with nature?
I was at a friend’s at Beau Belle. I like this place. Weather is easily changing, going to sunny to rain and then rain to sunny in 10 minutes. I like this place because it is like a giant invisible hand caressing tree leaves like we caress children’s hair. It a soft movement and leaves are gently swinging, like in slow motion. This movement is fascinating. Just like the dark bit of forest hanging on a big hill across. Trees are giant because of the absence of cyclones in the area.
Nature is beautiful in here that I would like to paint it…
Love of work
I am still enjoying my work. I feel that I have so much to develop, starting with myself. I quickly jumped into my position and I didn’t have much time to prepare the curriculum. I’m taking the year in the middle of the year, during the second term. At least I could start at the beginning of the term! I’m a bit stressed about timing as I feel that I won’t have enough time to build projects. But no room for fatalism! I’m always working in collaboration with teachers and we will have two clubs de français; one for primary and the other for secondary. For primary, we will work on French sounds (phonetics but also songs and vocabulary, on pupils’ request). For secondary, we will try to work around drama.
It could sometimes be like sport to have 12 classes with very different levels but it is just a matter of time. But as a first true teaching experience, it is really something!
Time is flying, both at school (it is very frustrating sometimes, we would like to spend more time with some students to go further) and outside. A day is spent so quickly. I didn’t even have the time to go for a swim at the Roche Caïman swimming pool, next to the school. I’m walking everyday but I would really love to have a good physical activity.
I’ve landed into a postcard. The island is beautiful, people very nice. The only ‘weak’ point is the weather. It is the rainy season and I’m feeling like in a jungle. Fog is sticking to the mountains and rain curtains sometimes stretch. The temperature is hot and we feel as if there was no point in taking showers.
Pleasure and respect
It is a great chance for me and in general to teach in an international school. I was dreaming of speaking English again and my dream came true as we teach French in English (no play on words or tricks there). It is a certain approach, which, in the end, is completely fitting my experiences. I love to use my different skills at the same time. Speaking two languages quickly and in at the same time requires a lot of concentration. I’m really impressed by these teachers who speak three languages (English, French and Seychellois creol) but moreover, who are working with very different levels (from total beginner to bilingual student).
Seychellois creol looks first quite similar to Mauritian creol and very different to Reunionnese creol. I had the chance to be exposed to Mauritian creol because of my father and to have been immerged into Reunionnese creol. But the greatest part is that I have been able to practice English. Reunionnese creol is based mostly on French and Malagasy words whereas Mauritian and Seychellois creols are ‘turning into French’ and ‘into creol’ English words. I can more or less guess what we are talking about but no guarantee here as pronunciation can leave some dark areas in my understanding of the subject.
Teaching, very first human investment
Teaching is a great new adventure to me. In France, I must admit that it looks very heavy to me as a former student and as potential teacher. But these specific contexts of teaching (Teaching French in another language) fascinate and attract me a lot.
It is a shame for French education. It was previously of a great quality, very rich. But unfortunately, today, many things are undone and it is very sad as we were given great tools to face life, even if we couldn’t understand the objective of some exercises and even, subjects.
My different trips (Australia, Madagascar and now Seychelles) lead me to think more in depth about education of the spine of a society. Some people, reading those lines, will think that it is of course, so obvious but it took me time to understand this urgent need to invest in priority in education and to involve myself. Education seems like human agriculture to me. We plant seeds, hoping the crops will be good. Of course, we have to work around unexpected events but we try.
Formula 1 bus
I’m taking every day the bus to go to the bus terminal, downtown. Then, I’m walking. I love walking, especially in the morning. The light in the morning is magical, making everything beautiful. It is turning everything into a masterpiece.
You have to firmly grab your seat or anything as bus drivers are probably Fast and Furious fans...
I’ve kept my good habits and I borrowed books from the Alliance française des Seychelles. I got local author Antoine Abel’s ‘Coco sec’. I also took J.M.G. Le Clézio’s ‘Le chercheur d’or’. I love this author. He’s got a unique way of talking about Mauritius. When he is mentioning the island, it looks like a dreamy land. And I also took a French comic, Etienne Davodeau’s ‘Lulu Femme Nue’, published by Futuropolis (I love what they are doing).
So close, so far
I’m living in Anse Etoile, a poetical name. It is a very quiet place with a very green horizon. Strange but true, something is reminding me French Antillas here. I did a short trip to Guadeloupe a while ago and I’ve found something Caribbean in places and people.
I'm few days away from the departure and I cannot wait!
I succeeded in getting strenght back these last weeks, standing back from the Malagasy incident and appreciating my chance of still being part of the Coopération.
I was considering my professional life these days and smiling thinking about what Anglo-saxons and French think about it. In the end, I have whole life experiences, that's it. When I'm leaving, I'm embracing the experience. I think I like to 'put my hands in a country's guts'. I had the opportunity to write a guide for French expats in Australia and it lead me to this vision. Unfortunately, the editor did not publish my work as he thought it was not in line with what they wanted (but the whole book was written!). But this work helped me asking myself pertinent questions about the foreign country I'm living in, my home countries (as binational) and standing back about life in general.
A new aventure will start and I cannot wait for it to start!