We bussed to Victoria, the capital, on Saturday and spent the morning at the National Museum of History learning all about the history of the islands right from when it was frequented by pirates, through being claimed by France, all the way to independence. Turns out France claimed the islands by putting a Stone Of Possession on a hill. Who knew it was that easy? It helped that the islands were uninhabited I guess, no one to argue. Not that that usually stops a colonising power.
I don’t think you can talk about the history of The Seychelles without talking about slavery. Slaves vastly outnumbered free people. The country’s commerce was built on the back of slaves, they were brought here to work the new spice plantations that were introduced by the French to try and compete with the Dutch. The treatment of the slaves was predictably abhorrent and when slavery was abolished in 1835 all the slave owners did surprised Pikachu face when no one wanted to work for them, not even for money.
The white land owners asked that a tax be introduced so the free people would have to work to earn money to pay it. They ended up bringing in a system where they’d give land to the former slaves where they could live and which they could farm, in return for a few days work. After slavery was abolished, the British took to intercepting Arab slave ships and liberating the people on board. If they were south of the Equator they’d bring them to The Seychelles and it was these people that were eventually employed on the plantations.
We wandered around the capital putting various things into our eyeholes including a Hindu temple, a church, and a market, then buggered off to cram some food into our chops at Marie Antoinette which is a bit famous apparently, I read it was the oldest restaurant in the country. The food was fucking delicious anyway and wasn’t eye-wateringly expensive.
They have several giant tortoises too but in 2001 a wall collapsed on top of them. They all survived but you can very clearly see where their shells were crushed and fractured. They were given antibiotics and roofing tape was used to hold their shells together whilst they healed. Bless them, they must have been in so much pain.
The woman who served us is the granddaughter of the woman whose tortoises they were, it was her grandmother’s restaurant (it’s not clear if she owns the restaurant now or if her grandmother is still with us) and she told us they get baby tortoises every year which they give to Curieuse Island so they can plod free and get neck strokes from tourists.
Well that was pretty much Victoria done then. It’s only a small city and it very much has a large town feel to it. I really liked it. Everything (aside from restaurants) seems to be open half the day on Saturday which is brilliant, and forget showing up on a Sunday. Work life balance for the win. We bussed back to Anse á la Mouche, stock up on beer, and sprawled by the pool for the rest of the afternoon.
Victoria, Mahé, The Seychelles
Stayed at: Alha Villa, Anse á la Mouche, Mahé
Useful shit to know…
- The 11 took us to Victoria, although the 6 also goes all the way to the capital. It’s a slightly longer journey though.
- The National History Museum in Victoria is super interesting and is Rs150 each to get in.
- The Hindu temple and the Cathedral are free to get in but you need to leave your footwear at the door at the former.
- The Marie Antoinette restaurant is really good and, whilst it’s not cheap, prices are on a par with an expensive UK city such as Brighton. In fact the restaurants in Anse á la Mouche are more expensive.
- They do a traditional Creole sharing platter for two people for Rs800 (£51) with about eight things on it but a lot of it is fish which Tarrant won’t touch so we stuck with the Specials.