Seychelles in January 2003


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Moyenne Island and Brendon Grimshaw

One of the memorable experiences was the encounter with Brendon Grimshaw on the Moyenne Island. Moyenne Island is for most of the visitors one of many beautiful Seychelles islands. It is a part of the St. Anne National Marine Park, about an hour by boat from the capital Victoria. We were about 15 tourists, who set out on a day-long excursion to the St. Anne Marine Park. After the mandatory trip in the glass-bottom boat, with coral and fish everywhere behind the windows, half of the group got off on Moyenne and we continued a little way further to dive from the boat. We then later also touched down on Moyenne.
The island was purchased in 1962 by an Englishman, Brendon Grimshaw, for 8.000 pounds, and it is still in his ownership. The message board said that the island facilities are closed today. I went to the toilets. On the path leading to it, two Japanese were photographing some tortoises. An older English-speaking gentleman approached us and we started to chat. About the tortoises first, then about where we were from. Another English couple appeared on the path, and our Englishman yelled something at them with a Yorkshire accent, for neither he nor they were English, they were from Yorkshire.
The questions and answers continued, and I slowly realized that this older gentleman actually was Brendon Grimshaw. He told us how a tortoise can bite: " has no teeth, but those are nasty gums, it will not let go until it finds that it is not edible. It is painful, but one will have to wait until it lets go, or the victim himself will tear off a piece of his own flesh." He said how it had happened while filming something for the BBC. I was envious of the BBC for their easy job. They only had to turn on the camera and let Mr. Grimshaw talk. The topic did not matter. It might be about a day when, before he had any electricity, from the mainland, and without him knowing anything about it, they hooked him up by cable to the telephone network. He was a very charismatic personality. Mostly he spoke about the island - with humour, but full of love for the island, like it was a family member. Not father and son, but more like brothers. I felt like Mr. Grimshaw was not merely human being, but the Chosen One to speak for and represent Nature. Like He was the Island.
Cover of a book about Brendon and more
The island, which is covered by a thick tropical forest, was bare of higher vegetation when he bought it. There were no trees. He planted everything himself. He addressed the tortoises which moved about our feet by name, like his own children.
"Don't go along the end of the path or you'll fall into the ditch and we'll have to pull you out." He talked about the various trees, "this bread-tree was planted by my father, those trees were two hundred saplings of teak tree which they wanted to throw away, they were mine if I came and got it. Look, what a forest became of those."

When we walked along the path to the boat, we could not see him anymore, but he continued with his Yorkshire ramblings and leg-pulling. On the island there is one small graveyard where two pirates are buried, with a space for just one more grave.

Last modified January 2005
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