OUR FIRST WEEK ON MAHE
Moving to Mahe was a total last-minute decision for us. We were backpacking through Eastern Europe with the kids when David received the call. It didn’t take us long to decide. Do you want to move to a beautiful tropical island? Err… Yes, we do. We headed back home, packed up our stuff, and within a few weeks were flying out to the Seychelles.
SEYCHELLES (BRADT TRAVEL GUIDE)
This new sixth edition of Bradt's Seychelles has been fully updated and remains the only travel guide giving comprehensive information on the biodiversity of the islands and updates on the conservation efforts in an easy to read format (over 40% of the Seychelles land is under environmental protection).
Being such a last-minute decision there were lots of things we never really thought about bringing. Read more on this in our upcoming article on What to bring with you when moving to Mahe. It also meant that we weren’t totally prepared for our arrival and the first few weeks here were a whirlwind. Getting to know a new culture and a new way of life. Finding the shops, working out how best to get around. Looking back there’s lots of things we would have done differently, but we had tried to carry out some research, there just wasn’t much online. Hence why we set up bohofmilyworld for the Seychelles, to help other newbies to the island. Below is a review of our first week here and some ideas on how to make your first week here smoother than ours.
Housing. We had organised a place in advance and arranged to take it for one month. We were down in fairyland (Anse Royal), and although it was great having a place to stay, a month probably dragged on a little and we really wanted to get moving into somewhere earlier to feel more settled. We also didn’t love the area (aside from the spectacular beach). With hindsight we probably should have just booked a Hotel/Airbnb for a week or two, with an option of extending it should we wish, but also an option to move out if we found somewhere. As we discussed in our article Budget Seychelles there are plenty of real estate sites, however, we found that word of mouth was best and there’s plenty of accommodation to go around and suit your budget. We opted for a moderately priced place in the north of the island which is our favourite spot.
Getting around. We organised a car hire in advance, which again was great with kids. The public transport system is actually pretty good, but we arrived with 7 suitcases and taxis are notoriously expensive. Luckily, we also had someone we knew come to help transport our baggage. So, having a car was great, but expensive. You’re looking at around 150 Euros a week, which I guess isn’t too bad, but for long term is a little costly, so we set about searching for a car to buy. Cars here are expensive, but apparently don’t depreciate too much. It’s also expensive to get parts, as many of them are shipped from the Middle East, so people told us to either get a Daihatsu or a Hyundai, as both have garages here and parts are easier to come by. We opted for a second-hand Daihatsu Terios, probably the most common vehicle on the island, and paid 60,000 Rupees for it. Facebook is your best option for second hand cars and there are many groups you can join, including Used Cars, New Cars , Parts & accessories, For Sale in seychelles. However, it turns out that traffic on Mahe is brutal, especially at rush hour, and you can spend an awful lot of time in the car so we also bought a second hand scooter for getting around quicker (and kid-less). We paid 20,000 Rupees for this. As we said, the bus system is also pretty good, depending on where you live and where you want to get too. It can get really busy and you often find yourself crammed in and sweating (there’s no aircon), but a nice breeze sweeps through the pen windows. As Natalie points out in Budget Seychelles, the bus is only 7 Rupees, great deal.
Mobile Phone Sims. There is a Cable and Wireless and Airtel kiosk at the airport where you can pick up a SIM. We went with Cable. There’s a variety of packages for calls and data and you can just pick what suits. If you want to change to a monthly payment plan you can in any of the mobile providers officers that are scattered around the island, and you can also top up online. Most people we know just stick with the pay and go option as monthly plans can run notoriously high. It’s expensive and at first e were having to top up frequently but we just learnt to turn of mobile data and use Wi-Fi as much as possible.
Money. The Seychelles Rupee is a closed currency so you can only get money once in the country. There are two bank machines at the airport, and if you arrive early enough there a currency exchange place. Currently the Rupee is just under 15 to 11 Euro. (150 Rupees = 10 Euros), as of February 2020).
Groceries. Groceries are expensive, so get used to it. Especially if you want certain luxury items. However, you can shop cheaply if you’re careful. Local products tend to be cheaper and you can try and haggle at the markets and with the roadside vendors, but to be honest, if you’re clearly not a local, they generally overcharge. What we’ve found best is finding people we know who have items such as eggs, vegetables, etc., and trading or buying from them. We try to eat as fresh as possible, so this works great for us anyway. In our first week we didn’t really know where to go to buy anything. You can read more about where to buy items in our article Where to buy what you need on Mahe. However, your best start is STC, ISPC and Spar (On Eden Island). The local “Indian” shops are pretty good for basic items and are generally cheaper than the larger supermarkets. ISPC has a great 50% discount section if you’re planning on eating vegetables, diary or meat that night. We also struggled with drinking water for a while, having to continually buy water. Read more about our water solutions in our article on Where to buy what you need on Mahe.
Getting used to a different culture and way of life. The Seychelles is in Africa, but doesn’t totally feel like Africa, nor do many people consider it to be “African”. It definitely has more of a Caribbean vibe. Nevertheless, if you’re coming from Europe it can be a bit of a culture shock. Many of the houses have bars on the windows and there’s lots of petty theft. In our first week we really felt unsafe and unsure. However, we put a lot of this down to the warnings we were given prior to our arrival and in general, haven’t seen or experienced anything majorly bad. The area we were initially staying was a little sketchy, and as you may know there’s a big heroin problem on the island, so lots of people just mooching around high. There’s also a big drinking culture on the island and lots of open consumption of alcohol, (and unfortunately lots of empty beer bottles, beer caps and broken glass) which after while you come accustomed too, but at first can be a little off-putting. However, where we live now is much better and we’ve slowly adapted to Mahe life.
Bringing things with you. Seven suitcases sounds like a lot, but not when you’re moving as a family. The rest of our belongings are in a shipment, but that’s another story. 3 months and still waiting. There are definitely some items we packed and didn’t need, and others we shipped and could have done with bringing.
Household items. As with points 6 and 7. Moving to a new country there are always things you need to buy. STC and ISPC provide a range of household items, however, as mentioned, things are expensive here. See our blog on Where to buy what you want on Mahe for more details of where to buy essential household items.