If I had a dollar (or 13 Seychellois rupees!) for every time someone referred to the Seychelles as "Paradise" I'd be rich!! Well maybe not rich, but you get my point! The image of palm trees on the beach, turquoise water, coconuts and tin drums come to mind when you think of the tropics. And I get that. We have most of that here, bar the tin drum, that's a Caribbean thing, here the acoustic guitar and accordion take center stage.
Paradise is a cross-cultural reference to a place between earth and heaven, a garden of eden, a place of happiness and abundance. The tropics are indeed associated with lush forests, ripe fruit, fish in the waters and a slow and luxurious rhythm of life. So yes, at first glance the Seychelles fits thats profile.
We spend so much of our life chasing a dream or an idea of a 'Good life' that it can be very uncomfortable once you have attained certain aspects of that dream. Is it ok to say "cool I've made it" or I'm happy to have achieved this? Matt and I have a recurring joke when we catch ourselves experiencing amazing life moments, like sunsets or Sky growing up, we'll say "Hashtag perfect life!" and wink to each other. But almost in a joking manner, almost as if to take the edge of the fact that we are truly touched by this incredible moment in our life. There is almost a dis-ease about being fully present and appreciating the fact that we are happy and grateful. It seems it was always so much easier and more socially acceptable to complain about life and grumble about this or that...
Firstly it's really bl**dy hot... and humid. Don't get me wrong I'm the first one to want to be outside as much as possible, especially with Sky being such an adventurer. But when you're already breaking into a sweat at 7h30am.. you know you're not going to be spending the whole day exploring and messing around at the beach. Indoors and AC sounds like a much better plan! And for most people a long day at work doesn't end with a trip to the beach but with a quiet drink watching the sunset ..or watching TV.
Life here is also far more expensive than we had understood, despite being warned that it was costly. Matt gets an equivalent of 4x a local salary and we are struggling to get by on our current lifestyle. We are probably making some classic newbie mistakes, for sure we need to change some habits that are left over from our time in Switzerland but it makes me think it must be really tough for local families. The cost of food is high so meals need to be basic, buying juices and ice creams are a real treat. Running the AC at the house is a luxury as is running a car. If you want a new set of bed sheets or cushions for the couch you need to budget it and save up. It's a whole other way of seeing life than the tourists paying the price of a meal for a cappuccino at the local expat shop (guilty!)
So I find myself being caught between two worlds. In the past I've been fortunate enough to go on holidays where I have been the one with the disposable income and the carefree-daily-fun so I know what it's like and here I am able to indulge in that occasionally. But I am a resident and living here long term on a comparably low budget, I can't afford the activities aimed at tourists and I have to watch my weekly spending for food and gas (we've started graphing our weekly expenses... ugh!). I'm also becoming more acquainted with people who I know will never be able to leave this island and who cannot take part in any of the touristy thrills. Lovely people who love the beach and the coconuts trees and the reggae music but unlike us don't have the option of going any where else. Even a flight to South Africa is unaffordable so imagine Europe or the US.
So is paradise still paradise if you are unable to leave?
The lady in front of me on the bus the other day was playing with her Iphone and when she locked it, the screen saver picture came up and it was of a mountain prairie with a huge alpine peak in the background, something from the Alps or from the west coast of Canada. It was a glorious photo and it got me wondering.. did she choose that photo or was it a stock photo that her phone had selected at random?
Is she dreaming of glacial streams and delicate alpine daisies?
Is this her idea of paradise?