We have been in Reunion for three weeks now and unfortunately is time to say farewell. We've met lots of lovely people and made some good friends here.
We launched without incident and all repairs seem satisfactory. The sail went to Ben, here on the handstand, for repair, following damage sustained in Rodreguis which Jon so tenaciously repaired by hand. It still looks fine but with a sail maker handy and reasonable price we think it's better to head on this last leg to Africa with everything in good condition.
On Wednesday we booked a horse ride in Le Grande Etang National Park with Stephanie on 0692328668. Stephanie is the daughter of the owner of the Ferme Equestrian establishment which organizes several different equine tours. Location 21 5.92S 5540.44E She speaks excellent English and organized the ride for us. We chose a 3 hour ride and it was fabulous. Not at all pony trekking! Pretty fresh horses and not beginners horses. They do have beginners horses amongst the 50 horses there but we had asked for something a bit " interesting" and got it! The scenery is spectacular and for 45euro each we were very satisfied.
We met Robert Brian on the ride and he invited us to his palm farm so we called there a few days later and were loaded up with heart of palm which he chopped for us and showed us round his property in St Rose on the eastern side. Barbara and Jim off Contrails had joined us in a car hire for a week and were with us on this and the rest of our fun expeditions.
Our tour of La Reunion was dubbed the Great Epicurean La Reunion Adventure! During the week we went to St Dennis again where we had found a great little patisserie just near the corner of Rue De Pasteur and Rue Juliette Dodu. There is an SFR store just down Pasteur where you can purchase the SIM for your Ipad and phone. Its not easy to get pre-paid here because there are not that many tourist who are not French. Here the French tourists is in France and their phone works just the same. It's 3euro per min for us to call Australia though! Internet is 4 euro per hour whether you are downloading or not. The Do Do bar at the port here has free wi fi if you purchase a beer or wine or food.
St Pierre we had great lunch experience at Belo Horizonte 21 20.56S 55 28.47E good price and good food. The coffee shop on the beach side of main strip, Le Moana made decent coffee and were very friendly.
The marina at St Pierre looks scarey! It's narrow entrance is lined with reef and the turning area is tight. If the wind isn't blowing it might be Ok. Some boats have had nasty frights there.
Here at Le Port it's easy to get in but you do need a car to see anything, and this beautiful island has plenty to see. I think in Pierre you also need a car. At Le Port the parking is easy and right beside your boat!
One day we did the drive around the perimeter, about 90 NM. It's very spectacular when you get to the lava flows which cross the road and flow down to the sea. They are cold now! The church at St Rose has a church which stands in the middle of a lava flow. It split at the front door and went round to join again at the back and flow on! It's a pretty sacred site now and has some interesting colored glass windows depicting the volcano.
The volcano trip was a great day out, starting from Le Port at 6am we drove for 2 hours through the spectacular countryside in the morning light stopping for those must have photos... of cows. The high plains is dairy country. Arriving at the volcano is sudden! You come round another of the 100s of switchback corners and there it is... laid out hundreds of meters below! Vast black desert scattered with rock.
We strolled about the old crater, which you can drive too, and got the photos then headed back towards the east coast to find lunch. It was a Sunday and the volcano was very busy with visitors. We were glad we arrived early.
The drive east to St Benoit is winding and beautiful. Vegetation on this side is tropical. The west is very dry, cactus and scrub.
We visited Robert again to take wine but were duly loaded up with machetes, and many fresh herbs after being served coffee. Not to be outdone we invited him to dinner if he can make it, but he was so busy he dropped in, looked at the boat and dropped off another machete for Contrails, had a quick cup of tea then headed off to St Dennis to visit patients. He'd had a big day of surgery in St Pierre doing implants etc. Robert s a dentist. A lovely guy and we hope to meet again!
Pascal, Myriam, Lisa and Pierre came to an Ozzie BBQ dinner aboard one evening which was loads of fun. Myriams first time on a boat! The children enjoyed the adventure and were also boating novices. We farewell them and wished them Bon voyage as they were flying out to South Africa for holidays.We will meet again.
The biggest day out was to Cilaos in the high mountains. We, Contrails and us, left at 8 am and negotiated the notorious narrow road through stunning mountains, the 400+ switchback turns and some scary single lane dark tunnels! We made it in by 10 am. More eating at Chez Noe, for lunch,opposite the beautiful Tsilaos Hotel in the main street. Pascal had recommended it and we were not disappointed! We spent 5 hours exploring the area and climbed to several lookouts. Short climbs! The big drive home was slower behind several buses, it felt safer!! Definite must do in La Reunion.
There are isolated villages here in deep ravines which can only be accessed in foot! Your feet! Not horse feet! So needless to say we didn't see them. We have it on the good authority of the group of young sailors here, that did do it, that it was worth it! Oh well! Next trip!
As I write we await the return of the sail and are making preparations to depart for Durban on the East South African coast on Friday. Barring unfavorable weather developments. It's 1500 NM, and we are hoping for favorable weather at the notorious Agulas Current, which we have to cross, and which can be very nasty on a bad day!. The boat is in good condition and we've tuned the rig, repaired the sail, replaced the cutlass bearing, had the shaft checked, so there is not much else to do except hope for fair wind and flat seas!
See you in Durban!
La Reunion Photos