With the tensions in Bujumbura over the past week, I needed a break. I still hadn’t recounted the vacation we took before all hell broke loose in the capital. Since today is a day off and security seems okay, here is the account of the trip we took after I returned from Zanzibar.
|Air Seychelles - our plane to Praslin|
Kiran had a week of vacation from school and we were all in need of a break. A couple of months ago we began scouting for a place to go on holiday. Several places in the region came to mind. First and foremost we needed a place that was child-friendly. This rules out more destinations than I would have initially thought. I sometimes stare out the window thinking about my old travel days when I would take a backpack and buy a ticket to someplace I’d barely heard of and just go figure it out as I went.
|out in the middle of the Indian Ocean|
Nowadays, of course, it’s a different story. Things need to be thought through well in advance. Less room for spontaneity.
|where we stayed|
So we thought through a number of destinations in the southern part of Africa. We considered places in Madagascar, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. There are a lot of options but it was a bit like Goldilocks. Some were too expensive. Some were too child unfriendly. Some involved overly complicated logistics. And so forth. Eventually Priya began honing in on the Seychelles. Though it was really on my bucket list, it was a place that I had considered visiting for years. Because it’s often touted as a destination for the rich and famous, I’d always assumed it was outside our reach. In the end, it turned out to be a nice fit and I think it met, if not exceeded, our expectations.
|Kinaya and her mum|
If I’m honest, I’m not really an island guy. I’ve been to a few great island destinations over the years: a half-dozen or so islands in Greece, Cyprus, Mallorca (Spain), Florida Keys, Catalina, Aran Islands (Ireland), Zanzibar and a few other smaller islands off the coast of Tanzania, etc. Anyway, I’ve had some interesting times during these travels but I am far more drawn to mountain destinations. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve lived by water for the last 16 years of my life (minus one year) and I’ve very much enjoyed it. But since I was young, I’ve longed for life in the mountains. Admittedly time at altitude has been rather rare over the past couple of decades.
|Kiran and Hannah|
Anyway, back to sea level. Arriving in the Seychelles felt like arriving in Dar es Salaam as I’ve done so many times. Leaving the cool of the airplane into the heavy, humid air takes some adjustment. Bujumbura is the tropics but it doesn’t have the brutal heat, thankfully.
We were traveling with some friends of ours who have kids around the same ages as ours. It was part of the motivation to combine our vacations. I have to say, it’s a good way to do it. The kids didn’t always get along swimmingly (except when we were swimming/playing at the beach) but it worked out well.
|dinner with a matching t-shirt|
We had a couple hours in the small airport before catching a short flight to the smaller island of Praslin where we would be staying. By the time we arrived at our hotel (cottage) it was dark. We could hear the waves but we couldn’t see much. We checked in, turned on the air conditioning and got ready for bed. There was only a couple hours difference between Burundi and the Seychelles so the adjustment wasn’t too bad. The girls seemed to switch rather easily.
The next six days were spent mixing exploration with hanging out at the beach. We went to the nearby island of la Digue which was stunning. We rented a car and drove around Praslin one day. Etc. It was a good and relaxing time. I realized that Burundi was on the precipice of insecurity and knew that this would be my last break before some tense times. I wanted to take advantage of the time with family and friends.
|Kiran and stunning La Digue|
Before we knew it we were making our way back to Bujumbura. Walking down the steps from the airplane with the family at 1:30am, I felt a heaviness in the air. It was different from the heaviness in the Seychelles. It was the gnawing feeling of what I felt was coming – what I think millions of people were feeling. The insecurity did arrive as planned. So far, however, we’re not sure how bad it’s going to get. I’m just very thankful I was able to sneak in a break with family beforehand.