De-husk a coconut? Living museum in Seychelles inserts visitors into island nation’s heritage
The aim of the museum is to protect and conserve Seychelles' tradition and unique way of life. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A traditional museum on Praslin – the second-most populated island of Seychelles, is giving visitors the chance to experience and live the island nation's heritage.
The Praslin museum is the first museum on the island and is owned by Steve Esther. Esther said that the aim of the museum is to protect and conserve the Seychelles' tradition and unique way of life.
“Visitors can come and discover about our history, how people use to live in the old days, as well as see plants including those with are endemic and others with medicinal virtues,” said Esther.
Apart from showcasing the island nation traditions the museum, “is used to show visitors the culture. In the garden fruit bats – a local delicacy -- can be seen. And tourists get to sample citronelle tea or enjoy local fruit juice,” explained Esther.
|Visitors get the chance to participate in activities such as coconut de-husking, and other traditional activities. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Local and tropical fruit trees can be seen in the garden. The fruits are used to make juices which visitors get to enjoy. The citronelle tea is made from the citronelle which Esther has grown.
Depending on the group of tourists visiting his museum, Esther uses either English or French, and at times even both, to share his knowledge on the heritage of Seychelles – a group of islands in the western Indian Ocean that are often referred to as a melting pot of cultures.
Esther, who has a background in landscaping, said that it took two years to conceptualise the museum. According to Esther his establishment is unique as it gives visitors a totally different experience but one which is 100 percent Seychellois.
“We are not like the museums on Mahe, this is a living museum. In our traditional kitchen made from Latanier leaves and locally available wood, tourists can participate in cooking activities such as grilling the breadfruit on open fires and smoking the fish the traditional way known as pwason boukannen,” said Esther.
|According to Esther his establishment is unique as it gives visitors a totally different experience but one which is 100 percent Seychellois. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Located not far from the traditional kitchen is an outdoor men’s and ladies’ room. Hanging on their doors are either the coco de mer nut or the catkin-like inflorescence from the male tree, illustration who should use which room.
Visitors also get the chance to participate in activities such as coconut de-husking, and other traditional activities which give a taste of the island traditions. The amount and length of activities organised for the visitors depend on the duration of their tour and the size of the group.
“Every day we have tourists who come to the museum. So, I am open 7 days a week. It is mostly the destination management company Creole Travel which sends clients to us. But with the cruise ship season, we also get many visitors. They get to learn our traditions and for me, I get to relive how my grandparents lived,” said Esther.
The museum located in the sub-district of Cote D’Or, exhibits a variety of photographs and artifacts including old tools as well as traditional musical instruments.