Residence Eden (St Augustin) 21/01 to 24/01/16

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Residence Eden is highly recommended for everybody wishing to recharge their batteries, get away from stresses of the ‘ real world’, get back to the basics of human interaction and raw natural beauty. Here, you can sift the wants of ‘western’ life from the needs of existence and feel totally rejuvenated and lighter for doing so. We were welcomed with exquisitely scented flower necklaces, a refreshing drink and complimentary sarongs. Nothing quite beats relaxing on a warm, moon-lit evening,to the gentle rush of the waves and the islanders harmonising in the background on their guitars. Oh, and blue lagoon and Pino colada cocktails flowing from the bar.

The owner saunters past with two ring-tailed lemurs balanced on his shoulders, like this is everyday beach wear. The village of the locals is part of the resort and they work here, herd their goats along the beach twice a day, playing guitar as they walk and fish the waters to provide fresh seafood for the restaurant.

Dogs ( much to our delight), are scattered around. They greet everybody with furiously wagging tails and accompany the guests for walks along the beach and kayaking, and relax with us on the deck, watching the sun set each evening. Last night, 4 of them slept wrapped up into tight little balls on the deck of our unit – giving us a sense of security, companionship and acceptance. There are also cats and kittens stalking flies, each other and their own tails, somersaulting in play and slightly apprehensive of our presence…aloof…as most cats are.

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We went for a long walk along the beach this morning at 6am before it got too hot. The water was cool and refreshing on our feet. Yesterday, when we took a quick dip it was warmer. There is a natural reef along the length of the beach that keeps the sharks out ( we hope). When walking along the beach, crabs of all sizes scatter before our feet. Larger crabs sit in big holes and wave an over-sized pincer at you if you approach or if you cast a threatening shadow over their burrows. Last night we saw the dogs chasing them along the beach and digging holes in order to grab an evening snack.

The friendly locals are always busy. Clearing the beach, doing maintenance, checking crawfish pots, hauling the daily fresh water drums off the boats to supply the village and restaurant and preparing food. Yesterday we watched the arrival of an older lady on a village boat. A crowd rushed down to greet her and support her up the beach. Maybe she was a bit wobbly from a long sea trip!

The resort is decorated with gifts from the sea – beautiful shells, driftwood wind chimes and bits of coral that have washed up on the beach. Buddha sits everywhere – statues, carved into lamps and in various forms of tapestries and artwork – smiling placidly and peacefully at everything and everyone. Beaded cushions in bright oranges and reds adorn our beds and everything is natural wood, rock, cool clay and sweet-smelling thatch.

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The food has been as divine as the surroundings. Despite being a mostly seafood restaurant that provides everything from oysters, to crab, to fish and crayfish, the owners very kindly put together a delicious vegan menu especially for us and fed us so much we have had to ask for smaller portions. Roasted aubergine, scrumptious veggie, noodle and seaweed soup, hot flavoursome veggie pie and a potatoe and veggie bake. Grilled stuffed apples, coconut ,peach and cinnamon ice cream and freshly baked breads. We have also asked to skip lunch today as we are lying around in the sun, burning minimal energy other than to turn the page of a book…or to roll over…or to slap on some sunblock. I was hoping to get off the plane in Auckland, tanned and thinner…..I will be tanned. 99% of our food has been fresh, natural and preservative and chemical free. If it wasn’t for our sneaky supermarket stops to purchase chips and chocolate…and the odd Coke, we would have done a complete detox. We have also been getting plenty of sleep and have not watched tv since we have been in the country. Neither have we missed it! Most importantly, stress levels have plummeted considerably. We have just been notified that our internal flight to Tana on the 25th has changed for the 3rd time since booking, but our tour company has been on the ball with regards to keeping us fully posted, so stress doesn’t really feature.

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The villagers here fished up the 2nd live coelacanth ever caught. The first was apparently caught off South Africa and the 3rd in the Comoros. This is a prehistoric fish that has evolved limb-like structures and pseudo-lungs in order to become a land dweller. When water levels rose, it returned to the sea where it now inhabits deep trenches. Unfortunately, the coelacanth was too far gone to return to the sea so it was hauled on land. The resort-owner contacted a museum in South Africa who didn’t show much interest in receiving it, but when they frantically contacted him back, offering a special flight to fly the specimen over there..he refused. He now has it preserved in a special tank in his restaurant and has turned down more than a few offers for it.

Tomorrow, we get driven to Tulear and then go for a short trip to see the baobabs in Reniala ( Reserve of Domergue). So far, we have had amazing weather and when it has rained, it has never interfered with our adventure. We have been extremely blessed to have had this experience and I have been lucky to share such unforgettable memories with my beautiful daughters. When I visit again, ( and I will) I would like to come with my partner, Jeff as there is so much romance in the silent desert painted pink in the sunset and the beaches to nowhere. In the shear exhilaration of the energy in the rainforest and the chaos of the cities that it is almost a sin to waste it.