WHERE TO BUY WHAT YOU NEED ON MAHE.
As we discussed in our article on Our first week on Mahe, getting to know where to shop when you first move to a place is always a work-in-progress. There aren’t really any articles dedicated to helping with this so below we’ve tried to outline where to buy the things you need.
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Organic Produce. One of the most important things for us is avoiding harmful chemicals in our food, so we always strive to buy organically, which isn’t always easy in the Seychelles. However, we have found two organic farms, Geffroys (in Anse Royal) and a little independent farm (in Port Launay) where you’re able to pick up some great fruit and vegetables. You can read more about the types of fruit and vegetables you can buy here in our article on the fruits and vegetables of the Seychelles. There are also lots independent sellers (on the roadside, or by the side of the Market) who sell produce from their garden. There’s clearly no guarantee that they don’t use chemicals, you just have to go with instinct. As discussed in our article on Our first week on Mahe, we found that after time you met people who had fruit and vegetables in their garden and were willing to trade or sell. (We have 3 mango trees, a starfruit tree, a neem tree and a cinnamon leaf tree. We’ve also planted a range of seeds and now have our own mini (but expanding) garden). The Seychellois ingeniously use seaweed as a natural insect repellent, as well as other methods, such as leaving some stagnant urine in a bottle (It actually works!). For non-grocery items there is a great organic shop called Island Thyme in Victoria who ship organic produce over from Denis Island. They have items such as meet, eggs, bread, cakes, milk, and also have a range of organic produce like coffee and coconut oil. STC has an aisle dedicated to organic produce (as mentioned in our article on Our first week on Mahe), and you can pick up Organic olive oils, vinegars, pasta, rice, herbs and spices, amongst a range of others. They also sell Raw Milk, which isn’t organic, but is touted to have many, many benefits.
Fruits and Vegetables. If protecting yourself from harmful chemicals and carcinogenic toxins isn’t a concern, then there’s loads of options for non-organic produce. STC and ISPC have a big range of fruit and vegetables and there’s also an abundance of roadside traders who you can haggle with. Some are more legit than others. Sir Selwyn Market is a great spot for fresh fruit and vegetables, but best to hit it early morning. You can also skirt the edges of the market where independent traders sell their wares. Just ensure you wash everything thoroughly in vinegar.
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. STC, ISPC and Spar (On Eden Island) are the main supermarkets and you can pick up everything you need (or at least what’s available). They can be a bit pricier and you an easily rack up a large bill. 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. In the end it’s a case of visiting all the different spots and getting to know what sells what you need. We tend to use the “Indian” shops for basic dried goods, cleaners, etc. and then the bigger supermarkets for things we can’t buy elsewhere. As we try to live as sustainably as possible, we try and make a lot of our own products, such as cleaning products, toothpaste, laundry powder, sun cream, body lotions, etc. It’s amazing what you can do with vinegar, baking soda, essential oils and other easily acquired items. We’ll be blogging about this soon, so keep an eye out.
Water. You can risk drinking the tap water as technically its clean, but we don’t, and I don’t know anybody who does. We did plan on fitting our water filter system to the taps (which we brought with us), but this is becoming an issue with getting the right fixtures), so we at first opted for refills. There a re bunch of companies who do water refills, including Val Riche, and you can take your large plastic bottles and have them filled up. As a family of four this can be quite an expense, so as many locals do we headed to the hills. There are a number of spots on the island where you can refill with natural spring water (This is what the refill sites use, they just filter and clean it), and we started using this for refills. However, after a particularly stormy week we headed home with 8 fairly green bottles of water (caused by the heavy rainfalls), and were put off so we headed back to the refill stations. It was only by coincidence that Natalie came across an ingenious system of getting the quality of water we desired through humidity. That’s right, humidity. Now we have a few issues with water. Firstly, we don’t like to reuse and store things in plastic, which is basically what you have to do with the water refills. And secondly, we don’t like not knowing what’s being put into our water, after all, it’s what our family consumes the most of during a day. So now we have a machine that turns the Seychelles’ humidity into fresh water. Now we’re no scientists, and if you want to know more about the air to water system we can put you in touch with the right people. However the basic idea is that as atmospheric humidity condenses, it falls as rain. The machine replicates this process of condensation by simulating the dew point, which allows it to make water continuously using a dehumidification technique to extract and condense moisture in the air to produce purified drinking water. The machine runs the water through a purification process (reverse osmosis) and out comes delicious fresh water. Amazing right? The only downside is the cost, which is more than the refill sites, and the machine probably isn’t great for the environment. However, for the time being (and until we get the right parts for our under the sink filtration system) it’s our best option for clean, uncontaminated water.
Household Items. STC and ISPC sell all sorts of household items, although they’re both fairly expensive. An average bedsheet can cost you 30 Euros. DIY (just behind ISPC) is a great place for household/gardening items, tools and kids’ toys, but again, it’s fairly expensive. There are countless “Chinese” and “Indian” shops all over the island where you can buy items way cheaper, but possibly of a lesser quality. There are also many hardware stores (There’s a big one at the entrance to Providence) to pick up screws, nails, tools, plumbing, etc. There’s a few nicer shops where you can pick up some great items, such as Second Coming in Providence and a local shop that sells some beautiful items on the corner of Market Street and Albert Street. There’s a few Facebook groups dedicated to selling items, but people generally are out to make a profit and the Port Authority has sporadic auctions of items they’ve procured. (We bought some nice curtains, two mattresses and some other bits and bobs for pretty cheap). However, in general we’d recommend bringing everything with you. As we will discuss in our article on what to bring with you to the Seychelles, with hindsight we wish we’d spent a little more on shipping and brought items we had donated, thinking we’d just pick up new ones when we arrive, as ultimately we even ended up not being able to find certain items, finding but there being too expensive so not getting them, or indeed getting them and paying too much, or buying cheap items that inevitably broke. So, bring as much as you can. You can always sell it on if you don’t need it, or when you leave, there’s a huge market for second-hand goods due to the expense of items here on the island.
Clothes. Honestly, we’ve not seen anywhere that we’d choose to buy clothes from, aside maybe from happening across an independent artist/designer and as mentioned above, Second Coming has some great imported pieces. We brought clothes with us, which is fine for now, but as the kids grow it’s hard to find nice pieces. Previously in Europe we’d shop at the Charity Shops and picked some real bargains. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing here. Some people use online sites, Amazon ships a few items here, but shipping in general can be expensive or unreliable. The last package from my parents took 3 months to arrive. Most people are reliant on family bringing items over or taking trips away and filling up. It’s only a short hop over to India where you can find some real clothing bargains. You can also take a cheap flight from India to Thailand here they have some great clothing markets. See our upcoming article on our Top 10 Favourite Markets. Anyway, we live on a beautiful tropical island and it’s too hot for clothes. Our kids spend most of their time naked. So as long as you have a few light items, then everything little thing is gonna’ be alright.
Cars/Scooters. As we discussed in our article Our first week on Mahe, cars are expensive. If you’re in the market for a new car, head down to Providence highway where you most of the showrooms are based. However, if you are in the market for a new car then you probably wouldn’t be perusing a budget living website, so mostly head to Facebook or through word of mouth. See the above article for more details on buying a car/scooter.
So, in summary, buying anything here is expensive. Bring what you can and make friends with people who can supply you with produce. Live frugally and minimalisticly. It is, after all, an island, so try to live as close to the earth and as naturally as possible.
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).