To the heavy lows of feeling like the rest of the world is just passing us by. When did we realise that this was not right for us? I'm not sure, it was a feeling that crept over us, despite our efforts to keep it at bay and find happiness here.
It wasn't an easy decision. I saw other families living here and doing so well.
To go as far as leaving half way through a contract and again packing up and heading into the unknown was no easy feat.
It was one of those mornings after yet another long evening debate on "what is it that we are looking for?", "is the grass really greener elsewhere?", "should we go back to Switzerland?", "what is it that we so lack here?". There were no clear answers, just an underlying feeling that no matter what we tried we were not able to face coming back here after the summer holiday to start another school year here. All of this despite meeting some wonderful people and overall enjoying the general rhythm of life here.
I'd always told Matt I wanted to be a stay at home mum, I'd been dreaming of it for almost 10 years. I grew up with a mum at home and I loved the idea of offering that homeliness and stability to my kids. The teacher in me also relished the prospect of accompanying my little one through a number of learning experiences and adventures. To go to "l'école de la vie" as Andre Stern puts it. Not home schooling, not un-schooling but living a purposeful life filled with encounters and challenges and opportunities for growth. I imagined us visiting a fishing community, the local market, exploring a tea or banana plantation or wandering through the local farmers fields. I had hoped to meet other local mums and together learn to cook local dishes or share life hacks. I wanted to discover new and unknown local instruments and learn to dance the local moves. We'd be out on the boats visiting nearby islands and exploring the flora and fauna. Learning to swim and collecting shells. Maybe buying some local fabric and making a tent out in the garden. Tasting tropical fruit off a beach-side stand. Smiling to bystanders and waving to the tropical sea birds.
I thought I had a realistic vision of what living in a new culture with a toddler was going to be like, I knew it could be hard, different and downright exhausting at times. Away from friends and family. But I was pretty certain I could handle that if I felt fulfilled in other ways.
But as Matthew so cleverly put one day, "You wanted to be a stay at home mum, but thats what you got and unfortunately you lost everything else in the process".
On top of the fact that I was rather bored and lonely I had to deal with the various struggles of living in the tropics. I was prepared for insects and stuffy climates. But no running water from 8h20 till 14h for weeks. No hot water on tap, ever. Power cuts at night and during the day which meant no cooking, no cold water, freezer is melting and AC/fans are off. Quality of food and prices were at polar opposites. No local markets from which we can buy local fruit and vegetables and speak to a farmer. Just cheap processed snacks or expensive imported goods. We can't afford boat trips to other islands. There are no mother-toddler groups or even enough mothers to create one with. There is no village to visit or traditional culture to learn from. There is no play park that is suitable. No museum or historical sites to go to. A house which is so unbearably hot and adjacent to a swamp infested with mosquitoes.
So each day I just tried to create something for us to do. I never thought it could be so hard. I knew I would be living in a new culture and climate but I thought I might have the opposite problem of being overstimulated, wishing for some peace and quiet. But here it's Monday 8h30 and I'm already out of ideas of what to do...
I had to admit, this was just not going to work for us.
Crazy but true.
So all we can do now is hope to find somewhere where we can be happy both professionally and personally. Whether that means returning to Switzerland or finding another school somewhere else in the world. I will still cherish this time here in the Seychelles and would definitely recommend a holiday here to anyone seeking sun and relaxation. It truly is beautiful and seems to be what paradise is made of. But for our little family looking to put down roots and create a life off-the-grid and closer to nature, this was not the right move.
ps. Life here can and does work for many families so I would like to stress that this blog is a summary of my own experience in the conditions which I have as a stay at home mum. It has been a very rich and complex time of learning for me, all the details of which I did not want to cover in this article. If you're interested learning more about our time here, the good stuff and the bad,don't hesitate to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.