Monday, January 2, 2012

Kerala might be God's own country, but He lives in Seychelles: Day 1

ON Christmas afternoon M and I landed in the Seychelles International Airport situated on Mahé island, on the Emirates flight from Dubai. The flight was as uneventful as possible except for the ocean that was right beside the runway which made for one of the most wondrous landing that M & I ever experienced.
We finished the immigration formalities and came out of the airport. The feast for the eyes that awaited us was simply breathtaking - A green carpeted hill with the top covered by clouds. Smell of the warm sea wafted across the airport with the warm breeze swaying the leaves of the trees surrounding the airport. I could almost taste the salt in the air.
5 minutes later, the heavens opened up for a quick shower. We waited, impatiently, for the shuttle to arrive to take us to the pier where we were to take a fast catamaran ferry (Cat Cocos: to the Praslin island (pronounced as Pra-lin island).
A new awareness and a deep respect for sailors emerged in my mind.

The catamaran ride from Mahé island to Praslin is a 45 minute ride. The day was windy and therefore the waters choppy. It was like a combination of being on a roller-coaster and the desert safari that we had done a year back in Dubai. The first fifteen minutes were spent in pure exuberance and thrill of being on a fast catamaran for the first time coupled with the fact that we were in deep sea waters. It was after the fifteen minutes that the mind opened up to new possibilities. The waters were very choppy, and the catamaran moving up and down on the waves, coupled with the fact that there were a lot of people throwing up due to motion/sea sickness, the mind started to wander. Being on a shore and watching the waves and the sea until the horizon, just does not cut it. In the middle of the ocean surrounded by the immense volume of water from all sides, until the eyes can see – a full panoramic 360 degree view, where the waves, are really large, is a completely humbling experience, therefore the new respect for sailors. The waves, when I sit on a shore, given that my feet are planted firmly on terra firma, are not relatively scary. Sitting on a boat, over which I have no control, the sheer size of the ocean and its waves which are so large coupled with it's movement akin to a terrifying monster's body undulating slowly as it breathes in and out, wave after wave, scared the living daylights out of me. The sound of the water splashing as the catamaran scythed through the sea was terrifying. The catamaran that we were sitting on was a big boat and it was being tossed about like it was made of paper, spraying cold water on us sitting on the upper deck, with an impunity that is chilling. Winds blowing hard, waves getting bigger and more powerful didn’t help my rather disturbing thoughts. The remainder of the 30 minutes was spent in silence. I could hear my heart pound in my chest and adrenalin pumping very hard. It was a wonder that neither M nor I threw up. I could feel the rumbling and the churn in my stomach and was beginning to regret eating the French Fries just prior to the ride!
This is an experience neither of us will ever forget and it is a check on one of the few things I had wanted to do in my life – Catamaran ride in deep sea waters.

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