I've never seen him wearing shoes; Ange, the lovely man in the blue house. He says that his natural shoes are much better. That he enjoys feeling the ground to his skin and staying in direct contact with the nature. Last time he travelled to the main island he even forgot to bring them. I bet he did perfectly fine barefoot.
We first met Ange when we arrived at North Island, a small paradise island in the Seychelles' archipelago. He was one of many who met us at the beach, so we didn't really notice him by then. He’s not the type of person who stands out in a crowd. He was quite busy during our first few days on the island. We were told that he was the man we were going to spend a lot of time with, but unfortunately, we didn't really get the chance to talk to him. Also, he's not very fond of breakfast and prefer to save his dinner for later. So we didn't meet him very often at the bistro.
A few days into our stay, when we had learnt the routines, he offered us lift to West Beach for our daily turtle beach patrol. Of course we said yes, happy to avoid the 20 minutes walk at five o'clock in the morning. We managed to squeeze in five people in his small electrical buggy. He dropped us at the beach, went to do a little work himself and then came back to pick us up when we were finished. Along the way back and forth we finally had a chance to get to know this man a little better. We immediately realised that this man we had met is an extraordinary person.
Ange is the pool guy on North Island, doing all the maintenance work to the villa pools and the main pool. Or as he says; taking care of his babies. He works the weirdest hours you can imagine. A few hours here and there summing up to a full day's work within 24 hours or so. Since we first met Ange we've spent many late nights together with him at the beach, looking for sea turtles. When we went home to go to bed, he went to put chlorine in the pools. Next morning, he was up early to take us to the morning beach patrol.
Ange is probably the most generous and compassionate person I’ve met. He's genuinely happy when other people are happy. Simple as that! He speaks about how he wants to help people solving their problems, and I know for sure he really means it, although he cannot carry the problems for them. He makes is sound so easy and obvious. He really makes you wonder why people are complicating their lives so much.
I have no idea where he gets all his energy from. He claims that he gets it from the nature itself. That the nature and the island has given him so much and he now wants to give back. And he does! Not only to the island, but also to all the people around him. Every single minute he is up to something. Except his pool job he is spending time, probably equivalent to a full-time job, with the environmental department, working with turtles and tortoises. And in some crazy way he manages to also find time for shell craftwork. Not to mention the bird watching and the close to infinite number of sunsets he’s photographed.
Betty the bat. She had a weak wing so Ange took care of her until she left by herself.
The last hatchling from a hatched nest. It was stuck in the sand. Ange brought it to the sea.
He's born at the beautiful island La Digue and has spent the main part of his life working on different more or less remote islands in the Seychelles. I asked him how it comes that he left La Digue and ended up at North Island. He told me about that time, some 20 years ago, when he was working as a skipper on a dive boat and about the first time he put his bare foot on North Island's white sand. He described the feeling of finding home and said that he knew for sure that he was going to come back. 10 years later, he started working on the island.
Serving coconuts on the beach.
He still has a strong connection to Mahe, the main island, where he lived for a couple of years: his house where his daughter now stays. The house he proudly says is one of the achievement of his life. Thanks to the house he could offer his daughter a good home when she was young. Now she's grown up and is just about to go to university.
He's been on North Island for 10 years now. Staying in the same house in the Blue Village, hidden behind the maintenance yard, the entire time. He showed us where the key is hidden and let us know that we are always welcome. His home is our home.
The blue house is like a workshop for seashell craftwork. Ange creates beautiful bracelets and necklaces out of beads and seashells. He has these tools that look like dentist drills and can produce small creations like turtles and birds out of shells he finds on the beach. One of our last days on the island he just managed to finalise two small geckos to some kids who were visiting as guests. They so much wanted to bring a gecko home, which is of course not possible. Now they could bring a beautiful memory of the gecko instead.
Necklaces he made for us while we were on the island.
If it wasn't for Ange our stay on North Island would not have been the same. It's thanks to him all those late nights on the beach turned into such a memorable experience. You know the sort of experience you remember as a feeling of a good time rather than a specific event.
We used to pick up dinner at 5.30 pm, then headed straight to the beach to eat while watching the sunset. Ange usually disappeared for a moment while we ate. Only to come back to show us some amazing sunset photos. Sometimes he went away for a while to do some work with the pools. When the evening became night and the bar at the north end of the beach closed, we headed to that part of the beach and sat down on a blanket in the sand. We watched the stars, hoping for a sea turtle to enter the beach. Sometimes he brought yoghurt for dessert. It may sound simple but after weeks on an island with close to zero opportunities for shopping and a diet consisting of fish curry and rise, a yoghurt dessert is highly appreciated.
The first sea turtle we saw was entirely thanks to Ange. We were planning to sleep longer one morning but woke up when the phone rang a few minutes after 5. Ange was up early and had spotted a turtle on the beach. Usually they come up during the night but this one was a little late. With the risk to miss her, as she could soon go back to the water, he jumped into his buggy to go and pick us up because he really wanted us to see her. We managed to be back in time.
We did experience a few sea turtles coming to the beach during our time on the island. And although Ange must have seen hundreds of them you could see his eyes shine of joy every single time. Whenever we saw a turtle he was the one crawling around in the sand trying to get close enough to see what she was up to. He recently started to help with tagging of untagged turtles coming to North Island. All turtles tagged in the Seychelles are given an ID starting with SXX and then a two numbers. The first one he tagged during our stay was SXX0757/SXX0758. Ange named her Ida. It's one of those special moment we will remember. If anyone happens to see her, please let us know.
Documenting a wounded sea turtle.
His love and passion for the Seychelles' nature is beyond what I have experienced from any other person before. When we were about to leave he thanked us for our contribution to his island and the energy and inspiration had given him. I don't think that were even close to the amount inspiration he gave us.
Digging a nest for tortoise eggs which had to be relocated.
It's amazing to see a person being so much at home. He has been to a few places in Africa and to Europe visiting relatives. But he doesn't think he will leave the Seychelles again. He's planning to take vacation for a week or two soon. But that is so he can spend more time exploring the island and looking for nesting White-tailed Tropicbirds. I really wish that I will find my spot someday, just like Ange has found his spot in the world.
Thank you so much for this time Ange! We'll see you when we see you!