Takamaka, the word is definitely free of fricative consonants, something I would expect to hear as the title of a high energy afro-beats song. If the world was meant to dance to the name of a rum, I think that it would be Takamaka, Seychelles’ signature island drink. What would the lyrics and flow sound like? I imagine either Diamond or Wizkid singing it, even better, both of them, ‘Takamaka my baby o, Taka o Maka, Takamaka toto.’ but I disgress!
Takamaka tastes nothing like its name sounds like, it is smooth and soft on the tongue. The high alcohol content doesn’t add a bite to the drink either. There is little heat and while the name suggests an imagination of effervescence and pop, Takamaka delivers a pleasant surprise instead and like many things in life reminds you not to judge a book by its cover.
My first sip of this drink was on my second island in Seychelles, Praslin. If God was a view, Praslin would be it! I woke up on my hillside chalet to the sound of waves, tropical trees and birds singing. Really, it was like a scene from a Disney movie as a friend described one of my videos from the trip. I have learnt to start my days early and end them late so as to see as much as I can at locations, so a 6am walk down the hills to the beach was in order.
On getting there a man shouted at me, ‘Hey! Beautiful, come here do you want to go on boat tours?’ I mean I hate men shouting, ‘Hey beautiful!’ you know? It rarely ever ends as well as they suggest it does in the movies. That said, I was in Disney movie mental mode and that was one of the best decisions I ever made – to go with the flow and talk to Nyalle (pronounced like Nile).
‘I will come, but you shouldn’t just yell, ‘Hey beautiful!’ at women walking alone on the beach. It is intimidating and too personal.’, I tell him.
‘Oh sorry, I wasn’t trying to do that. I just wanted to catch your attention with something nice. My name is Nyalle, I do boat tours of Praslin and Curriese Island. Do you also want to go to Anse Lazio? I can organise that too!’
He sounds sorry and sincere so I go and sit next to him at his little beachside office that is basically a reclining pool bed next to a beach swing with a small table loaded with green coconuts.
Nyalle walks me through a shopping list of all the tours and activities I can do, he then pauses, ‘Are you travelling alone?’
I hate this question when I solo travel, because sometimes it leads to the inevitable ‘I can be your boyfriend we travel together.’ or if it is women, ‘I have a nice brother and you are so pretty, you should meet him.’ or you meet the judgmental and close minded type that launch into speeches about why women should not travel alone or why it is wrong to be so ‘independent’ that you don’t need people-read, a man. Nyalle, however, has other plans. ‘You need to find a rich man to pay for all your trips. If I looked like you, I would be rich.’ He then points to an island, ‘You see that island, it is a private island. If I looked like you, that would be my island. I mean, what do you even do in Kenya?’
‘I work for an NGO.’ I tell him.
‘You are wasting time, you are wasting your life! You need to get someone, maybe you will even love them but what you need to do with your life is get them to give you a good life. But what do I know? Anyways, for today, I recommend you go to Curiese Island, I have called my taxi driver he will take you to Anse Lazio too and then you can walk around Praslin after. But make sure you think about what I said about the private island, okay? Also here, drink this, it is Takamaka. No one has even given you Takamaka and you have been in Seychelles for two days? You are doing life wrong Noni.’
And that is how I had my first sip of Takamaka!
If you are ever in Praslin, please go down to the beach next to Berjaya and say hi to Nyalle from me and let him organise your day/s on the islands! He is a riot and great fun!
My other tips while on holiday in Seychelles? Seychelles is really safe to walk around alone at any time so it made my solo trip easy to navigate. Make sure you land early Sunday morning in Mahe. Everyone takes the day off to fish, party and eat on the beaches. In every little beach you will find parties, pop up kiosks with cocktail bars, coconut bars and seafood curry and seafood kebabs. People here are super friendly too so dance, eat and chat away with everyone you meet. While in Mahe, take a walk in Victoria. Africa’s smallest capital city.
Visit the temple and have lunch at Marie Antoinette, spend hours exploring this gorgeous Creole restaurant and enjoy its tortoises. If you go in the afternoon you get to see Abraham the large male tortoise mate too! Take a ferry to Praslin and visit Curriese Island and Anse Lazio. While at Anse Lazio, head over to Chevalier Bay to eat and have a shower in the open overlooking a small river filled with palms by the beach.
Take a ferry to La Digue and while there cycle round the island, visit a vanilla farm, ride past Notre Dame church, swim at the beaches, enjoy the beach bars with small private island views and local Takamaka cocktails and when you cycle back post rum cocktails make sure to avoid hitting the chickens crossing the roads!
This Island brought my shine and I fell in love with it.