NOTE: Despite the date of publishing, this piece is/was written (for posterity) in late January 2021. This blog, and its sister site (www.pengoingsouth.com) are intended primarily as our own record of our adventures, while also hopefully providing some news, education and entertainment to friends, family and anyone else who stumbles across it. So I’ve written this to record our situation as of 26/01/2021 and it will join our archive, to be read back over sometime many years from now when we have come through the other side of whatever lies ahead. B: ever the historian. Now, to business:
As the popular historian Dan Snow comments: anniversaries and key dates cause us to “pause to reflect on the passing of time, even though there is nothing different about that day to any others”. He’s right, of course, and the end of the calendar year 2020 was a prime example of that. Traditionally, New Year’s Eve is a large social occasion to say a fond farewell to the year just gone and to welcome in the year ahead. This year, Covid19 (well, I made it 5 lines before it came up!) removed much that we could consider normal for the New Year (as it has with so many aspects of our life). Still, we pause and reflect nonetheless.
We, like most people, haven’t had the 2020 that we might have come to expect. Having a baby in late 2019 wasn’t a smooth and straightforward journey for us (I won’t go into it here) and so we began 2020 as we ended it: unexpectedly stranded in Ireland when we should have been at our home in the Falkland Islands. After a prolonged 5 months away, we did manage to return to our charming little house in the Falkland Islands, but the remote island medical care (among other factors) meant that we weren’t able to stay. We had a few months to pack up our belongings, say our difficult goodbyes and bid a fond farewell to the islands and people that we have grown to adore. It was during our months in the Falkland Islands that the global situation declined and it became increasingly clear that Covid19 wasn’t going to make life smooth.
What should (and what could) we do once we were in a position to travel? How do two people with a new baby follow 5 years in the Falkland Islands? These were the questions that we faced while navigating the myriad other problems that 2020 was presenting society with.
Unable to meet up with family, unable to travel around the country and unable to see the many friends that we have missed after spending so long away, we concluded that we may as well be in a different country again. So that’s just what we concluded! We knew we liked small island life, but it was also time for something a little different. We were also keen to see some sun after spending three winters in a row (as a result of the poor timing of our trans-hemispherical migration). Most importantly, if I was to re-enter the classroom after two years out of it, I was keen to find the right professional fit.
After a thorough search, I was fortunate enough to find and secure a post in another Commonwealth archipelago! This time, a little further North and with far fewer penguins: we are bound for the Seychelles!
We set about completing the familiar (from the Falklands) paperwork and medicals needed (all relatively straightforward: no typhus, syphilis or tuberculosis here thank you very much)! And now, we wait…
Thus far, our knowledge and experience of the Seychelles is limited to what we can glean from conversations, books and this here internet. There are some fairly striking contrasts with the Falklands, but it seems there is also a lot of overlap. We have experience of former-colonial small island nations and the way things work on them and so we have been pleased to already find some familiarity: the ever-friendly population, limited internet and a more relaxed attitude to that which you might find in our former homes in, say, London and the Home Counties.
There’s not too much more to say at this juncture as we have yet to receive a final flight date. We have to wait for the mixture of government permits and Covid19 travel restrictions to be navigated, all while the Seychelles undergo the first major change of government that they have had in several decades. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be addressing some history in glorious detail soon enough! Patience, my fellow historians!
At the time that I was recruited, the islands had managed to remain Covid-free and society was continuing to function in an enviably normal way. Since then, even their strict quarantine measures have not been able to fully control such a contagious virus and some community transmission has occurred. As a result, the islands are in lockdown while the vaccination programme attempts to contain the virus as quickly as possible. In all fairness, with a population of just over 90,000, they’re reporting that 18,000+ of the most at-risk have been vaccinated already so they’re doing better than most countries right now! Still, without full coverage, travel remains tricky and it hasn’t been made any easier by our own unfortunate brush with Covid19 (we are fine, thank you; fully recovered). We’ll all need a negative PCR test to get on a plane, for a start, and that can take some time after recovery so that’s yet another waiting game. We remain resilient, adaptable and excited to begin the next chapter of our lives in a new and, perhaps, unusual location.
As before with Pengoing South, we would like to maintain this blog during our time and it truly helps us to stay motivated to know that people are logging on, reading, enjoying and participating in it so please do comment (on here or through other media) and feed back with your thoughts, suggestions and ideas to help keep us working on it. When I figure out the new layout, I’ll add an email subscribe box for you to automatically stay up to date with all of our posts. Until then, thank you for logging on, reading this far and welcoming Pen Going East to the World Wide Web.
B, H & J