Until some time ago, car ownership was not allowed on the small island.
Today, they are still rare.
Daniel was waiting for us at a golf club, the most popular type of vehicle in La Digue, side by side with the bicycle. He welcomes us as we leave the dock where the ferry from Praslin is moored and invites us to board.
With us installed, inaugurates the short trip from the west to the east coast. We advance along a path made of cement blocks that the vegetation wraps around and makes it dark.
Daniel meets all the non-foreigners he comes across, also driving golf carts, bicycles or on foot, and greets them alternately. He greets some with a simple “Allo”, others give a “bozo”, the local creole for “Hello".
Still others see them so regularly that they give them only a sketch of a nod. Five minutes later, we arrived at the lush entrance to the Grande Anse.
Having overcome a persistent hesitation, we agreed on the time when he would pick us up and set out on the short trail that, between coconut trees, led to the beach.
The Wild Beaches of East La Digue
A plaque marks its end and the beginning of the true coastline. The warning it broadcasts alarms as much as it can, in white and red and in five different dialects, starting with Seychellois: “Atansyon: Kouran three dance".
Still, what catches our attention the most is the beauty of the huge beach that stretches both north and south, the white sand, the crystalline sea bathed in blue gradients that fits perfectly into the bay.
And the small peninsulas covered with cliffs that enclose its length, from the sea, which is now without foot, to the verdant edge of the equatorial jungle, which the natives call “pointes".
We had been in the Seychelles for a week.
After the sister islands Mahé and Praslin, such rock formations weren't exactly new. They had, however, an unprecedented harmony of shapes and lines that, together with some intrepid coconut trees and shrubby vegetation, made them unique.
Grande Anse was just the first of the deserted, wild and seductive beaches we explored on that radiant sunny morning. To the north of this, lurked the Petite Anse.
Beyond this minor was Anse Coco.
punchline after punchline, the Perfect Anses of La Digue
Once the sands of each one were finished, the access to the next followed trails that went through small wetlands and climbed to the top of new ones "pointes” both through the rainforest and among the sharp rocks that stand out from it.
Wherever we went, the dampness remained oppressive and, however much water we drank, it slowly distilled.
The jungle grew so unrestrained that it was not always possible to conquer the top of these “pointes” guaranteed us unobstructed views of the bays below. More than once, to achieve them we had to perform stunts on the sharp rocks, sometimes in really precarious balances.
When, finally, we reached points free of rocks or coconut palms, the panoramas of the “handles” rounded, with its colonies of granite pebbles, the blue sea and the bright green jungle left us awestruck.
We went down to the sandy beach of Anse Cocos soaked in sweat.
A sign similar to the one on the Grande Anse signaled more treacherous sea currents, but cooked as we were by the hot chlorophyll of those latitudes, we couldn't resist.
We chose a corner with no apparent abnormalities in the coming and going of the sea and bathed ourselves as that small island in the Seychelles deserved: in absolute ecstasy.
Urged on by the shameful delay that we already had in view of the agreement with Daniel, we completed the return to the Grande Anse in a fifth of the time.
Delayed return to the village of La Digue
When we got there, I had already returned to the village of La Digue.
We recovered our energy in a Creole beach bar in contact with the owners and with a crazy fifty-year-old foreigner who seemed to return there after a few years and who, to the trio's astonishment, treated them as if they were intimate.
Daniel appears with a calm but resigned air. Once again on your ride we return to the almost urban center of the island. In La Passe, we changed from the golf cart to two bikes without gears, as stiff as possible, possibly the worst on the island.
Even in whining mode, we cycled up the north coast.
Right on the first ramp, we saw why several other tourist-cyclists were driving their bicycles on foot.
It is on foot that we reach the edge of the local cemetery, a conglomeration of tombs and white crosses colored by flowers that followed one another over the grass to the highest area of the forest.
Anse Severe and the Urbanized Coast of La Digue
The first French settlers from La Digue landed on the island accompanied by African slaves, starting in 1769.
Many returned to France, but the names of several others can be found in the oldest tombstones we had before us, as in the surnames of the current inhabitants, descendants of the settlers who remained, the slaves that were freed in the meantime and the Asian emigrants who joined them.
We went down from the cemetery again to the Anse Severe's seafront.
We stopped to examine that semi-hidden beach in the shadow of a mighty army of takamaka trees with branches that invaded the sand.
Underneath one of these trees, we found a juice vendor set up behind a stall covered with colorful tropical fruits that she had decorated with pink hibiscus flowers.
A Refreshing Get-together with Dona Alda dos Sumos
We asked how much each juice cost. Alda, the lady, answers us ten euros as if it were nothing. We explain to him that we cannot spend twenty euros out of the blue on two juices.
The lady recognizes that the price is exaggerated and resorts to a plethora of explanations: “you know it's not mine, it belongs to my son and it was the price that he and his wife decided.
Contrary to what most people think, the fruit here in La Digue is expensive, it comes from Mahé at very high prices.” In the meantime we introduced each other. Alda comments what intrigued us the most: “it's not that easy for us to plant fruit around here.
Land is very expensive throughout Seychelles. Each of us has minimal spaces around the houses. What we manage to plant is for the family to consume.” We spent half an hour talking to the lady who relieves us of half of her life's problems.
Sensitized by the company, it offers us the juices we drink, given to more conversation. After the drinks, we return to the bicycles and the winding cement road.
We pedal hard but rehydrated as we reach the tight meander of the far north of the island and go from Anse Severe to Anse Patates.
La Digue Seductive from Patatran to Southeast
Around the village of Patatran, the coast of La Digue, there much smoother than the one facing the great Indian Ocean on the east coast, gets better again.
Dress up in a fabulous palette of navy blues and cyans lingering over the sky. Vertical white skeins cross the sky and above and hide the far horizon.
On the plane below the balcony we could enjoy this fabulous, unique tropical panorama, although comparable to the “The Baths” from the Caribbean island of Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
A reflective white emanated from the sand that the waves of decoration could not wet.
Coconut trees, thirsty for freshness, lean over the sea and leave their silhouettes on the sand, once again delimited by "pointes” elegant granite.
As we skirt the coast from north to west, La Digue's coastline derives little from this pristine setting.
Thomas and Yencel's Mad Fishing
Already pedaling at Anse Gaulettes, we stopped to peek at the activity of two natives who searched the sea, with the water up to their knees. We gestured to them with our curiosity. They tell us to wait a bit. They spend just a minute lying in the water.
When they get up, they show us the result of their demand: an octopus and a cuttlefish freshly caught.
Satisfied with the almost instantaneous prize, they walk out of the water. Even before they leave, one of them still manages to surprise us: “Wait there! They thought it was over.
There's still more.” Dip your hands in the water and remove them already holding a small turtle. “If you want to photograph, be quick!
They get stressed if we hold them out of the water too long.
OK, I'll drop it!" Thomas tells us with Yencel's agreement, sharing easy, sunny laughter as they struggle with the turtle's biting attempts and with the waves that, even measured, unbalanced them.
We leave them to pack the shellfish and continue to pedal ahead. We don't get any further when we drop a bottle of water and have to pull over to the curb.
As we pull ourselves together, the duo walks past us with great fuss. Thomas rides on a pink kid's bike that looks like it came out of some Barbie promotion.
The two wave "goodbye" to us with huge smiles and "bye” shrill below a cloud with a mascot look and misplaced at low height. Thomas shouted at her, showing his big, perfect teeth, even whiter by the contrast to the black skin.
So comical and surreal, the scene reminds us of part of one of those historic Malibu rum TV commercials shot in the Caribbean.
La Digue and its Hyperbolic and Near Jurassic Turtles
We continue down the east coast until we reach the “punchline” from Anse Caiman that separated us from Anse Cocos where we had finished our morning walk.
There, we return once more to the starting point of La Passe, buy groceries at a grocery store that is about to close, and point to Union's now historic copra farm and factory.
In times, this property concentrated the main production of La Digue, coconuts.
Today it is an informal theme park.
It houses the largest and one of the oldest granite boulders on the island, 700 million years old, forty meters high and said to have an area of 4000 m.2 and, at its base, a smelly, noisy colony of giant tortoises from Knife.
Also libidinous, we must say.
Anse Source d'Argent: a La Digue Monumental
We peeked at them and also at the old local cemetery.
We proceeded to the farm outside and arrived at the most famous of the beaches of La Digue: Anse Source d'Argent. We enter its even more eccentric granite stronghold through some of the rocks that so characterize it.
On the other side, we found the low tide as it would be perfect if it were. We enter the sea with care, among corals and submerged algae banks.
And when we get far enough away from the waterfront, we notice the sumptuousness of the scenery ahead.
We see it made up of successive striated and striped rocks, some perched on top of others, the lower ones crowned by coconut palms and surrounded by lush and thriving forest.
During all the time we admire and photograph the landscape, a family of round batfish swims around our legs, checking what they could take advantage of from the turbulence we were causing on the seabed.
Sunset was coming and the ferry to Praslin was leaving in an hour.
Without a scheduled stay in La Digue, we ran to the beach, picked up the bicycles still attached to coconut trees and pedaled at the speed that those pastry shops allowed towards the La Passe dock.
We took the ferry smoothly and still with enough light for one last look at some of La Digue's amazing granite artworks.