After the initial ups and downs of leaving there and arriving here we are finally in a position to say that we know where we are on the map! I also feel like I know this little nation much more intimately then many of its visitors do. So many tourists swing in and out of these little islands without truly getting a feel for what this little country is about. I'm no expert but in half a year of living here in I feel I have a pretty good idea of Praslin is.
We live on the "local" end of the island (Anse Kerlan), we drive, we pay insurance and utility bills, we have bank accounts, we go food shopping, use the local doctors, work here, sleep here.... in many aspects we live like local Seychellois do. We've made a point of doing our best to blend in, and our financial situation doesn't allow us to act like tourists anyway. I am aware that we have a far more comfortable life then a portion of the population, but you would be wrong thinking that it is only expats who live comfortably. Many Seychellois here in Praslin, though not rich, have what they need to live a comfortable life.
An exception would be friends like these lovely guys at our local supermarket, young Indian men working abroad (UAE, Seychelles, Malaysia) to support families back home. But their stories are for another time!
In Switzerland in the 80's we were just on the cusp of the americanisation of our culture. Globalisation was around the corner and the American dream was starting to trickle down into our hopes, homes and meals. My mother battled against me wanting pancakes for breakfast instead of cereal. She stood fast when I begged for brownies and a coke instead of biscuits and water for tea. But those lessons stayed with me and although I love brownies and I enjoy pancakes for breakfast I am grateful that she kept us healthy through the temptation.
We weren't poor growing up, we had the choice. We had an economy that supported local agriculture, that maintained the right to affordable food and that did not use subtle propaganda and less subtle giant bilboards to convince us to eat crap.
But here people are vulnerable. Vulnerable to change. Vulnerable to the western dream, to status, to convenience, "to progress". 20 years ago the Seychellois diet was made up primarily of locally grown breadfruit, cabbage, moringa, pumpkin, coconut, fish and rice. There is a wide choice of tropical fruit grown here such as noni fruit, pomegranate, bananas, mangos, avocados, jamalac (like a pear), jackfruit...the list goes on. Though there is no grain or cereal agriculture on Praslin there is an import of rice, lentils and other grains from India and S.Africa.
But with globalisation and the arrival of technology came, as in most places, the pressure to adhere to western ideals. Sodas, crisps, juices, pizza, hot dogs, donuts, spaghetti, fish sticks. All of these have come to replace the traditional meals .
The difference with Praslin is that this change came along so fast and with such force that the people were not able to set up the necessary infrastructures to deal with adequate education around diet and exercises. But equally to put in place a system to deal with the issue of waste management. How can such a small island handle millions of single use plastic bags, juice boxes, take away boxes, pizza boxes, beer cans, beer bottles and crisp packets.
The population of the island is 9000 people. Add a couple thousand more tourists on to that and you still aren't really talking big city. This is a small island. But the rubbish issue is a big one.
Noting us recycled or reused or upcycled or composted here. Nothing.
And the problm doesn't stop there. It's one thing not recycling or sorting out waste but it's a whole other problem when your shops are full of made in china-plastic-won't last more than 6months goods.
We bought an umbrella, used it once, it snapped. We bought a blender after 5 months we noticed some of the plastic had come off and was being served to us in micro portions through our smoothies. The high chair we bought for Sky is coming undone and will also have to be dumped soon. Our salad bowl has cracked. The yoga matts crumble under our feet after barely 4months.
Our ice try cracked in three places the first time we tried to get ice out... the mop bucket broke as I pressed the mop into it... the dustpan broke in half and pieces are falling off the side of it...
I don't want to contribute to this wasteful lifestyle. I can't. It just gets under my skin to know that each time we purchase something with a wrapper or made with unsustainable material, it's going to end up leaking and decomposing into the soil here.
How can we come to places that cannot recycle glass when we know that glass can be recycled endlessly without losing its quality?
How can we stand by sell cheap toys and kitchen appliances to families only to then see them thrown into a pile behind the airport a few months later.
How can we support a system that allows young mothers to eat deep fried samosas and soda for lunch everyday instead of reintroducing and supporting locally grown fruit and vegetables?
How can people be paying 1300euros a night in a hotel and not question the impact of their holiday on a local community?
..and how do I explain to that little-island-Mowgli son of mine that our lifestyle, no matter how we try, is destroying the very nature we love so much?